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Yesterday's Election Was Important, Even If You Didn't Vote

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The turnout might not have been great for both voters and poll workers alike in yesterday's primary election, but the results are in for some pretty important races that will determine who will rep us in Congress, on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, in the top spot in the sheriff's department and in the second largest city in the county.

The Los Angeles Times has some nice up-to-date graphics on the preliminary results from races that are a little easier to sift through than the county clerk's page. Here are some of the races we followed:

  • Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell came very close to outright winning the race for county sheriff. But since he only won 49.15% of the vote, he'll be heading to a runoff against the controversial former undersheriff Paul Tanaka who distantly trailed with 14.74% of the vote. The top spot in the department opened up when former Sheriff Lee Baca stepped down this January because of scandal after scandal after scandal in the department that culminated in a federal crackdown. When a reporter from the LA Weekly tried to attend Paul Tanaka's celebration party (which for the record are usually open), he was initially booted out by some very protective supporters. "You're trespassing," said another, who identified himself only as a Marine combat veteran.
  • The race to replace Henry Waxman, who has represented the Westside in Congress for 40 years, was fierce. It looks like Dems split the vote in a crowded race of 18 candidates, because Republican Elan Carr came in on top with 21.49% of the vote in a reliably liberal district. He was narrowly trailed by State Senator Ted Lieu. You would think a campaign song by Alanis Morrissette and being the best-selling author of New Age-y books would take you far on the Westside, but alas Marianne Williamson came in fourth with 12.95% of the vote. Former Los Angeles mayoral candidate and city council woman Wendy Greuel also didn't make it to the run-off with 16.77% of the vote.
  • Californians went for both of the propositions on the ballot. 65.4% voters said yes to Proposition 41, which authorizes $600 million in bonds to help provide affordable housing for veterans and their families. 61.5% of voters said yes to Proposition 42, which will (hopefully) make it easier for citizens to request information from their local governments. The law asks local governments instead of the state to foot the bill for California Public Records Act. First Amendment champion Peter Scheer told the Weekly, "They can no longer say 'Oh, we're not going to do it today because the state's not reimbursing us.The biggest difference will be local governments will be required to comply with these transparency laws and open meetings laws and they will no longer have the excuse that they have today, to opt out of those laws."
  • The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is one of the most powerful local institutions, and there are two open seats on either side of the county. Well, not any more: Hilda Solis, a former labor secretary in the Obama administration, handily won with 70.32% of the vote for the first district that covers 246 square miles of Eastern Los Angeles County. Sheila Kuehl, a former child actress and a state senator, snagged 36.18%. She'll be facing off against Bobby Shriver, a bona fide member of the Kennedy clan, who won 28.8% of the vote in a Westside and Valley district previously repped by Zev Yaroslavsky.
  • Long Beach has a new mayor for the first time since 2006. Robert Garcia, currently an adjunct faculty member at USC, represents a lot of firsts for the city: he's the youngest, first openly gay and Latino mayor. His opponent former NFL player Damon Dunn conceded after Garcia won 52.1% of the vote. It wasn't smooth sailing in local precincts, though: some ran out of ballots and at least one voter was sent on to another precinct.
  • Sandra Fluke, who is probably most famous for making Rush Limbaugh foam at the mouth for having the gall to suggest the government cover birth control, is headed to a run-off to represent the South Bay in the state senate seat most recently occupied by Ted Lieu. She won 19.7% of the vote, trailing Ben Allen, a Santa Monica school board member, who won 21.82% of the vote.

Long Beach was far from the only one area with problematic precincts. Voter turnout was low—preliminary results (which could change) show 13.19% of voters turned up—and some ballots and poll workers didn't show up either. Loyola Marymount University’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles sent students out to polling sites to keep track of the problems. Here's some of what they found:

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