What Voters Are Seeing — And Feeling — On Election Day
Based on reporting by Mariana Dale, Frank Stoltze, Carla Javier, Sharon McNary and Jill Replogle.
Whatever their beliefs or political affiliations, voters across Southern California are turning out at the polls to cast their votes in the big 2020 election.
At the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office in Norwalk, Dewayne Brandon, 26, who had come from Watts with his wife and two children, said it was his first time voting.
"I came to Norwalk to get something else but I'm like, 'You know what? I might as well just vote right now because my vote counts,'" Brandon said.
He said the process was simple and he felt comfortable with the extra safety precautions that had been put in place due to the coronavirus.
Carlos Albizures, who is originally from Guatemala and now lives in Norwalk, also found the process easy. In fact, he knocked a few items off his to-do list. He got a COVID-19 test, went to the library and then voted. Albizures moved to California from New York only a few months ago and felt it was important to cast his vote so he decided to do it in person at the Registrar's Office in Norwalk.
"We make the difference. People have to understand that every single vote counts and if we want authorities to lead us to a better life, that's the way to do it," Albizures said.
Albizures said he felt safe and election workers did a good job of maintaining safety standards.
If you want to vote but haven't registered yet, YOU CAN STILL VOTE! That's what Maryam Danishwar did.
She lives in the San Fernando Valley but came down to Norwalk so she could register for in-person voting on Election Day. She was concerned about potential issues with mail-in voting and she was recently naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Danishwar was born in Afghanistan and came to the United States when she was 9.
She was pleasantly surprised by how swift and efficient the process was.
"It was very simple, very easy," Danishwar said. "They were directing you where to go. Very socially distant, very safe. You go upstairs. It was a very quick process. It took me about 10, 15 minutes to register and get my vote in. If anyone hasn't voted, you should go vote. It's easier than going to the bathroom."
Lyle Nixon, who was taking one of his regular walks around the Forum in Inglewood, said he voted four days ago at a church near his house. He said he normally focuses on local issues but this time, it was all about the national — specifically, Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"The 200,000 plus deaths, that should have never happened," Nixon said "[Trump] needs to go. He had a chance. He had four years to learn. He should have been trying to learn. He's not trying to learn."
Nixon said he has two neighbors and several relatives who have died from COVID-19.
At the Forum, metal fabricator Parker Legaspi said he also came for one reason: "I just didn't want Trump in office anymore."
He had filled out his ballot at home and came to drop off his ballot. "To me, I feel like … [we're] almost on the brink of civil war. Two parties and their supporters are each almost getting violent to each other over their political views. It's almost like the Civil War era."
In Orange County, sisters Anh and Trinh Luu, who live in Stanton and Tustin, respectively showed up early at the Orange County Registrar's Office this morning to cast their votes for Donald Trump.
"Four more years for Trump! We love Trump. He's the greatest president ever in American history, Anh said.
Candice (she didn't want to give her last name), said she came to vote in person because she was worried about her mail-in ballot making it safely to the Registrar’s office and wanted to make sure her vote would be counted.
"This is the most important vote of our lifetime, probably, so I wanted to make sure I got in and was able to do it," she said.
Anissa Suncin, 26, who lives in Lynwood, said she votes in every election and has been doing mail-in voting since long before the pandemic. She came today with Carmen Murillo to drop off their mail-in ballots.
They had initially gone somewhere else, "but there was nobody there looking at the box or anything," Murillo said, so they decided the Registrar's Office in Norwalk wold be safer.
"It's really easy," Suncin said. "I know a lot of people don't like voting because they think it's more difficult, but doing the mail-in ballot is really easy. Even coming in to vote at the poll is easy, especially now that it's digital. I just want [people] to know that it's easy and it doesn't take a lot of your time."
UCLA law student Cece Bobbitt said she cast her ballot a day after she received it in the mail. She said the university had given all law students the day off to encourage them to volunteer for the election, so she signed up to be a poll monitor.
Bobbitt had already visited two polling places in Castaic before LAist/KPCC caught up with her at a voting location in Santa Clarita. She said she was there to make sure the rules are followed and no one who wants to vote is turned away.
She was most interested in Prop 22 and the District Attorney's race. "I think it was important as a law student who will be hopefully working in those courts in a few years to be abel to exercise my voice and pick a district attorney that I think is better," Bobbitt said.
She's also watching the presidential race closely.
"Although California votes don't matter, I think that every popular vote that Joe Biden gets is going to help him in he aftermath of this election because we're not quite sure what Trump is going to do, if he's going to concede if Joe Biden wins," Bobbitt said.
In Beverly Hills, Cheyenne Yousefia, also a law student, came to drop off her ballot. She said it had taken her only 20 minutes to fill out but she had spent several days researching various issues and talking to friends.
"I believe that they're more pivotal and more critical for local voters to partake and to engage in the local elections because they do determine more what we will experience," Yousefia said.
Also in Beverly Hills, Ariel Rofeim, who was once an intern in the Obama White House and attends Brooklyn Law School in New York, said he's been a lifelong Democrat but has some serious reservations about the party's policies. Rofeim said he is concerned about the state of our domestic and international policy.
"Seeing how the Democrats have sort of chosen to go about by showing the injustices that do happen in this country is something that I have really strongly felt against," Rofeim says. "Seeing all these businesses board up, seeing all the things that are going on, for me, I don't feel like that's the most effective way to show that point."
Regardless of political outlook, as Anissa Suncin said, "I want my voice to be heard. Even though some people don't feel like it's heard, it is and it counts. It's our civic duty, we have our right to vote and I think it's important to vote."
L.A. County was looking to recruit nearly 17,000 poll workers to help the election run smoothly. The vote center at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita was staffed, in part, by high school students.
Samea Derrick, 17, said she’s been following the news lately, especially as it pertains to climate change and LGBTQ issues.
“I've found that it pertains to me. So I really care what happens in this election. And I knew that because of COVID, a lot of election workers are usually seniors and a lot of seniors want to stay home right now, which is perfectly understandable. So I thought there would be a shortage. That's why I wanted to volunteer.”
Bryant Bolen, 27, went to the Ramon Garcia Recreation Center in Boyle Heights right after work to vote for the first time. He said “togetherness” was one of the driving forces behind his vote.
“Our country is kind of dividing each other slowly but surely,” he said. “I feel like we’re all divided, especially the parties … this is a country that’s supposed to be together, and we need to go ahead and get to that and stick to that.”
It was also the first time voting for 19-year-old Klein Sanchez, who said “we all need a vote if we all want change.”
“We need to get up and do something, make a difference if we can," he said.
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