Patricia Nell Warren

Super Snooze-Day in L.A.

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | February 05, 2008 12:39 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, Politics
Tags: Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday in California didn't get off to a great start -- at least at one polling place in Los Angeles, where election officials were evidently snoozing at the switch. A friend of mine whose voting mailer told him to vote at the "Los Angeles Tennis Center" couldn't find it. The address on his voter pamphlet was 325 S. La Cienega. The Mapquest device in his car said it was located on the corner of Blackburn and La Cienega. He had gotten up early so he could vote before going to work, and he was driving desperately up and down La Cienega, getting more anxious by the minute, because he didn't want to get fired.

Finally, around 7:30 a.m., my friend called me on his cellphone, and I got Mapquest up on my laptop screen. It too put the address at Blackburn, but there was no such address actually there on the street.

Finally my furious friend explored on down La Cienega, through heavy traffic, and found the address south of Wilshire. For those who believe Mapquest is the Word of God, it was wrong. And the real name of the polling place was the Beverly Hills Tennis Club. It took him five minutes to notice the tiny sign, hardly visible, and only in Spanish, indicating that it was a polling place. The outside parking lot was closed -- no clear indication where voters could park without getting a ticket. After my friend blundered around and found the designated parking underground, he went inside.

By now it was 8 a.m. and the polling place had supposedly been operating for an hour. But no voters were there -- probably because other voters were trying to find it. The place was in chaos -- the polling crew had obviously not been there at 7 a.m. -- they were just setting up tables. Crew for one table, the Yellow Table, hadn't shown up yet (they were evidently lost too). My friend was supposed to vote at the Yellow Table, so technically he was out of luck, because the Yellow people had their voter-listing ledgers with them.

One of the other tables offered to help him out, and looked through all their own ledgers. Fortunately they found him listed at an old address which he had already tried to update. He was able to prove his current address because he had his voting pamphlet with him. So he got to vote.

My friend left the polling place boiling mad, and swearing he would write letters to everybody in the world about this sham of democracy in action. "It's Super Tuesday, for chrissake," he fumed at me in his cellphone. "You'd think they would be better prepared."

I'm voting later today, at the same polling place. At least I'll know where it is!

Sure, it was just one polling station, and maybe a couple hundred L.A. voters who didn't vote because they couldn't find the place...or because their table crew weren't there. But a couple hundred votes could be enough to tip the balance on a delegate, and a delegate could decide a party's candidate. And if this is any example of how the polling system in L.A. is currently being operated, then the chaos may be more widespread.

Just another dreary example of how, and why, our country -- and our government -- is snoozing its way down the toilet.

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I had a similar mis-hap in Long Beach. But I sorta expected it. I figured it all out and voted. What a great day.

I found your site through BlogCatalog and was really glad I did. I look forward to visiting your site more often-- it's definitely worth the CTRL+D!

So did you have a problem voting?

Nope. By the time I got there, around 1:30 p.m., everybody was there and everything was running smoothly.

Except the fancy machine that is supposed to read the push-pen ballots wasn't working...the one that makes sure ballots wind up with the ink imprints on the back. So they were having to hand-verify every ballot by having the voter look at the back and verify that the round dots were there.

Chalk up one more failure for high tech.

With all this drama, one would think that substantial reform would be around the corner....

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 6, 2008 8:35 PM

because he didn't want to get fired.

It's my understanding that California (or is it federal?) law requires that employers give employees time off to vote...

Yes, that is true. But my friend apparently didn't want to push it with his employer.