Casting my vote, or trying to, in June

| June 30, 2022 | 0 Comments

On Monday afternoon, June 6, I was sitting comfortably in my apartment with my mail-in ballot, marking my preferred candidates in anticipation of voting in-person the next day. As I filled in the last dot on the final page, I took a satisfied breath — until I realized I hadn’t marked anything for the City of Los Angeles mayor’s race.

I went back through the mail-in ballot, assuming I had somehow missed that section. And … no, I hadn’t. It wasn’t there. I immediately texted a good friend who lived close by, and asked him where the mayor’s race was on his ballot. “Page 2,” he replied. That’s odd; it wasn’t, on mine.

I then scanned my sample ballot as well as other mailed election material piled next to me on the couch, including a postcard making recommendations for Culver City residents — which of course excluded the Los Angeles mayor’s race.

I should mention here that I live in that little pocket of Mar Vista that is surrounded on three sides by Culver City, including immediately across the street, but which has been part of Los Angeles as long as I’ve lived here — 20 years!

Slightly concerned, I assumed that all would be made clear or corrected when I went to the polling place the following day.
On Tuesday, I was welcomed by friendly masked faces thanking me for voting and preparing to make my visit hassle-free. I warned the gentleman scanning the code on my ballot envelope that none of my official literature included the mayor’s race. He found that odd, since he lived in my same ZIP Code, and he wished me luck in the voting booth.

Purple area shows Los Angeles Council District 11. White area is Culver City. Map courtesy of the Los Angeles County Registrar

Off I went, going through the same motions I had the previous day, only this time making a true impact with my vote — and I came to the last page of the electronic ballot and again had not been given the chance to vote for mayor.

I stepped away from the booth, my ballot un-cast, and a poll worker quickly came by to help — assuming I was unfamiliar with the next step in the voting procedure.

Long story short, we destroyed that ballot; a supervisor put in a call to the County Registrar facility in Norwalk; I was given a phone number to call to straighten out my situation; and I went home disappointed.

The number I was given was a 10-digit version of 311, and after 20 minutes on hold, I told my problem to someone who gave me a new phone number to call, which turned out to be the County Registrar’s office itself. Great! Progress!

I explained myself to the lady on the other end of the line: I live in Mar Vista, not Culver City. My official address is in Los Angeles, with a Los Angeles ZIP Code. My ballot — as well as those of my neighbors in my apartment building — for some reason does not include the mayor’s race nor, come to think of it, the race for my council district representative. “What do I have to do to get a ballot that includes the Los Angeles mayor’s race?”

Her answer consisted of one word: “Move.” With my address entered into her computer, she informed me that, somehow, based on the most recent census data (and her perceived lack of census-completion by my neighbors), my neighborhood was now considered part of Culver City in some jurisdictions and for some services or utilities, and part of Los Angeles for others. “There are some areas in Los Angeles that aren’t eligible to vote,” she basically told me.

I obviously wasn’t going to get this straightened out in time to cast an accurate ballot, so I went back to vote in-person as best as I could.

Back home, I quickly tracked down my Los Angeles city councilmember, Mike Bonin, through Facebook. I messaged him to let him know that his constituents were unable to vote for his seat or for mayor, even though Bonin lives just a few minutes away from me.

To my surprise, Bonin replied within the hour, agreeing that my situation was indeed strange. He checked city records and confirmed that my neighborhood was definitely included as part of Los Angeles in ZIMAS, the city’s online database and, yet, my neighbors and I were not listed in his district’s “voter file.” The councilmember suggested that the county made an error in drawing its precinct maps, and he told me he would reach out to the County.

When next I heard from him, he said he learned that the County Registrar’s personnel were still busy counting ballots, but that he and they would be in contact again.

My last report from Councilmember Bonin came on June 18, when he told me: “The Registrar confirms you and I were both right, and you and a few households were misassigned as not being in Los Angeles. They say they fixed the maps and records.” He also provided me with the email address for County Registrar Dean Logan, so I wrote.

In response to a few questions that I posed to him, Mr. Logan said, “I can tell you that the situation was very narrow and limited. Unfortunately, it occurred during the redistricting process. As soon as it was identified, it was corrected, and we appreciate you and the Councilmember bringing it to our attention.”

Tom Hofer is the Larchmont Chronicle’s Art Director.

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Category: Real Estate

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