On Tuesday, Los Angeles County voters went to the polls in what has turned into a very different election day compared to years past.
Both the Globe and other media outlets have noticed a startling trend on election day in LA County: voting sites are reporting things to be eerily calm. The Globe visited several voting sites around LA County, all of which remained line-less, with volunteers available for assistance at each center, a direct contradiction to the chaos and lines that plagued voting centers across the county during the primary vote in March.
During a visit to a Glendale polling place, the normal cants of candidate and issue supporters was instead replaced with silence. The long lines usually trailing out were non-existent. A voting volunteer had actually been assigned to corral people in to the front because so many people were missing where exactly to vote because of the absence of so many people.
“This is the busiest we’ve been all day,” said a volunteer at a Glendale voting center, showing off several dozen booths with only 4 people using them. “I was excited. This is my first time volunteering, and all it has been is a few people walking in, not the mad rush I thought was going to happen.
At another polling place in Pasadena, the Globe was shown the booths in the high school gymnasium. Out of a few dozen, there were only six voters.
“We’re expecting to get busier tonight,” said the Pasadena volunteer. “I used to help out in LA, and opening on election day was like Black Friday sometimes, especially in 2008. This year we had three people waiting outside today when we opened. With how many people are voting this year in the election, it’s amazing. If it were any other year, you’d see a line outside right now most likely. It’d look like the DMV.”
11.2 million out of 21 million registered voters have already voted in California before Tuesday
The presence of COVID-19, the state issuing by-mail ballots to every voter, the state asking for people to vote early, and the addition of numerous polling places, including well-known landmarks such as Dodger Stadium and the Pantages Theater, have all helped greatly reduce the number of voters out and about on election day. Out of roughly 21 million voters in California, 11.2 million had voted before Tuesday. In LA County, over half the number of eligible voters had voted before Tuesday.
“Half the people we’ve called have said they already voted,” explained phone poller Marcus Kingsley to the Globe. “We’ve been having to go after undecided voters to get the latest numbers on them, and it’s been hard getting good data because we are not used to so many people having already voted. Usually by late October it’s 15%. 20%. But COVID and the mail-ins changed everything.
“Even elderly voters, our most reliable ones, have said they already voted. That has never happened before. So you encountering ghost towns today, that makes total sense. People have voted already. Done and done.”
While many places in California had reported long lines during the March primary, LA County became infamous for their long lines, slow processing, broken voting machines, and waits that could take hours.
The Globe asked some voters why they had voted in person today rather than by mail.
“I prefer voting in person,” explained voter Charlene Harris. “It’s part of the experience COVID or no COVID.”
Another, Louis Rincon of Pasadena, said “I don’t trust the mail. By voting in person, I know it went in. I don’t want them discounting my ballot because of a signature issue or something.”
No major lines have yet to be reported on as of yet on Tuesday, although election officials have been warning of an evening surge of voters caused by people getting out of work or failing to vote early.
California Globe will report all day Election Day with results from around the state.
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