warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

LA County: Less Voters Cast Their Ballots On Election Day

Sam Dorn, Evan Budrovich, Jacob Freedman |
March 5, 2013 | 7:45 p.m. PST

Staff Writers

An empty polling station in South Los Angeles. (Aaron Liu/Neon Tommy)
An empty polling station in South Los Angeles. (Aaron Liu/Neon Tommy)
Los Angeles County voters are continuing to show up, just less and less in person. The government is doing little to change that.

In Beverly Hills’ 30th precinct, just 7.4 percent of votes had been cast in person before 3 p.m.. The rest were cast as long as two weeks ago, through mail-in ballots, according to volunteer poll worker Kent Kornmeyer of Beverly Hills. A veteran poll worker, Kornmeyer estimates that this is his 35th election working at the polls since the year 2000.

“We’ve gotten about 160 ballots so far today, but we don’t think we’ll reach what we expected, which was 300 voters,” Kornmeyer said. While the voter turnout has been low, the precinct has received around 2,000 mail-in votes as of last Thursday.

What explains the decline in day-of voters? Another poll worker suggested several causes including: the cloudy skies that scared away voters, and the fact that mayoral elections draw less of a voter turnout than federal or statewide elections. The larger issue, however, was a vastly underpublicized change in voting location.

For the first time in recent memory, the precinct consolidated its three polling stations from the previous election into one small room at the La Cienega Park Civic Center. The change was primarily due to the lower expected turnout as well as the difficulty of securing space for an entire day. Furthermore, given the consolidation of polling locations, it made sense to place the polling center more accessible to everyone. 

Now, residents arriving to the three locations that previously hosted polling stations last November - The Beverly Hills Tennis Center, Horace Mann School and Beverly Hills Audi- find themselves in the wrong place. Voting has now become far more of a hassle for residents living in close proximity to the former polling locations.

While the sample ballot sent to all registered voters in the district did contain the new address, Kornmeyer confirmed that no special effort was spent on publicizing the change. Many voters who neglected to read the fine print on the sample ballot ended up having an irritating surprise today.

Further complicating matters is that the 18th precint voters have a polling station right on the northern border of the 30th precint, leading 30th precint voters to think they can vote in the 18th. “People always want to go to the one (station) closest to them,” Kornmeyer said.

As we were exiting the premises, seven voters walked in, ready to cast their ballots and continue the democratic process.

Reach reporter Sam Dorn here.

Reach reporter Evan Budrovich here.

Reach reporter Jacob Freedman here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.