Election Snippets

Elections, as with all other human endeavors produce interesting anecdotes and insights– serious, sad, or just plain funny. So, I thought I’d share;

It seems I have been committed to buying a family dinner. Why? Because as one of the volunteers helping with my campaign’s Burbank-election-day GOTV (get out the vote) efforts waited to drive the couple to City Hall to vote, dinner got burnt;

Then we have the door-knocks that yield people, usually elderly Armenia’s, who dearly want to vote, but don’t know how. That’s easy to remedy. But to understand the depth of this desire, consider:

– the woman, still in mourning after her husband’s recent death, who voted despite her obvious grief. Then, she asked me to see to getting his name off the voter rolls, handing me his ballot.

– a couple, with the husband recently returned home from open heart surgery, voting in his recovery bed and the wife, still recovering from eye surgery, voting with only one good eye.
– the family who’d lost a son just ten days earlier, with the mom afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and the dad seriously vision-impaired, the last still making the trip to City Hall to cast a ballot.

There was the woman who was afraid to open her door. Her neighbors attributed that behavior to the constant diet of warnings dispensed by the management of the senior building in which they resided.

Let’s move for a moment to something I noticed during the March 3 election affecting much, though far from all, of Los Angeles County. It is an election run by the City of LA, consolidating many other elections, of smaller cities sharing school and community college board district jurisdictions with the big city. I think this story speaks to how extensively the economy’s downturn has affected people.

I was working as an “inspector reservist” (IR) dispatcher. This means I am stationed at a location with people trained to cover for poll workers who don’t show up, or are late, resulting in polling places not opening, and impacts on people’s ability to cast their ballots. It’s not the first time I’ve done this, as an employee of the LA City Clerk, one of whose divisions runs this election. Most of our department’s employees get pressed into other-than-usual service on election days. After this long and tedious introduction, here comes the point. Previously, even many IRs wouldn’t show up, despite having committed to doing so and even spending their time in training for the job. This time, no shows constituted a much smaller proportion. In addition, there were fewer calls for this pool of back-up manpower.

Back to the Burbank election, we have the frustration caused by missing ballots. Did the Post Office not deliver them? (Remember, Burbank’s election is all-mail) did the voter unknowingly toss them in the circular file? The envelopes might seem to be junk mail for someone not anticipating its arrival. Or, did it go, with all the other important mail, to the son/daughter who’s helping the parent with weak English skills, then get forgotten. However, I must say that most of the elderly Armenia’s we encountered tended to have an awareness that “this is something important.” They just didn’t know what to do with it.

More on the frustration front; One woman I encountered in the hall of a senior building was incensed that some of her neighbors wouldn’t take the trouble to vote. She even suspected some of them were lying to her, claiming to have voted, when they really hadn’t. I think she’s now on board with the idea of running a voter registration drive in her building!

But the most unusual story I have is one couple’s filing system. I discovered it when only one of the (unopened) ballot envelopes was by the TV-remote. My request for the other led the woman of the home to walk towards the entrance door, lift the corner of a throw-rug resting atop the carpeting, and retrieve the other envelope–in pristine shape! Other pieces of mail were neatly arrayed under that carpet. An interesting filing system;

If you’d like to contribute to this pool of stories, please come out on my (or any other) campaign trail. I guarantee you’ll have eye-opening experiences and a tremendous sense of satisfaction, not to mention doing your civic and Armenian duty.

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