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This letter was originally sent to Secretary of State Debra Bowen by local poll worker Marge Piane.
I was a poll worker for the election this past Tuesday. I’ve done the job of “inspector”—basically in charge of the set-up, running and packing up of the polling place—for quite a few years. Of course, in that time there have been a few minor problems, but none that would prevent a voter from exercising his or her right to vote.
This year, however, I am convinced that many voters in my neighborhood were effectively disenfranchised. I was amazed when I saw my close neighbors arriving at the polling place that shared my location, at 3981 San Rafael Avenue in Los Angeles.
Glassell Park voters who live in Precinct 9006313A were required to travel up into the hills of Mount Washington to find a location that is not served by any public transportation, and is well beyond walking distance from any home in that precinct—let alone the fact that it would be an uphill hike.
Therefore, any voter from Precinct 9006313A who did not have a car or access to a ride could not cast a ballot at Mount Washington Elementary School.
As a poll worker I know that any voter can vote provisionally at any polling place. However, I also know that many voters don’t trust that a ballot cast provisionally will actually be counted; most voters want their ballots to be included in the count they will see reported on election night; and in local races, like for State Assembly candidates, it’s important to vote in your assigned precinct.
One voter arrived in my polling place and said, “It’s so nice not to have to drive to the flats to vote.” She was happy. I was appalled. All people who live in the hills (as I do in Glassell Park) must travel “to the flats” to get on a freeway or go to a grocery store. They are familiar with the streets and public buildings. Many people who live in “the flats” have never been in the hills.
Given the reams of paper taken up with laws about voting rights, polling place layout, multi-lingual materials and handicapped access, how is it possible something as basic as easy access for all voters is not required?