South LA voters hit the polls

A voter in South L.A. shows off her ballot stub. |

A voter in South L.A. shows off her ballot stub. | Foursquare / Yessenia

What issues were important to South L.A. voters in the mid-term elections? Priyanka Deo visited the Hoover Recreation Community Center on Tuesday to chat with people at the polls in a piece for Annenberg Radio News:

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OPINION: Meet Compton’s mayoral candidate Aja Brown

By Melissa Hebert

Aja Brown is a second-generation resident of Compton who has entered the municipal elections for Mayor of the City of Compton. Brown has an extensive background in planning and has experience working for Compton’s redevelopment agency.

imageAja Brown

Please state your name and time as a resident in the City of Compton, and which district you reside in?
Aja Brown, second-generation Compton resident. I reside in District 2.

What makes you qualified to run for the seat you wish to fill?
I have over 10 years of community development and economic development experience working with the municipalities of Gardena, Inglewood, Pasadena (former Planning Commissioner) and the City of Compton’s redevelopment agency. I am an urban planner by educational training. I graduated from the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, Planning and Development, and hold a B.S. in Policy, Planning and Development and a Master’s in Planning – emphasis Economic Development. [Read more…]

Organized campaigns monitor voter fraud at election polls


Listen to the audio story:


Voters can call the Election Protection Hotline to seek free, confidential, non-partisan advice about registration and voting.

Sandra Thompson, an attorney and “captain” at the Los Angeles call center office, explains that when voters run into problems, the organization activates their mobile voter unit. She specifies that most of the problems the office has encountered are similar to the ones encountered in 2008, consisting mainly of voter registration. There are also incidents where many people, especially Latinos, have been inundated by Robocalls with misinformation.

To get in touch with the Election Protection Hotline, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Reporters’ Notebooks: South L.A. heads to the polls


Leimert Park: Christ the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church
Leimert Park: Transfiguration Catholic Church
Leimert Park: Los Angeles Fire Station No. 34
Watts: Watts Towers Arts Center
West Adams: Roger Williams Baptist Church
South Central: Walker Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church
University Park: Los Angeles Fire Station No. 15
Watts: F. Griffith Joyner Elementary School
South Central: St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
Baldwin Hills: The Village Green

Christ the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Leimert Park
By Kaitlin Parker

imageAt first glance, it was hard to tell Christ the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church served as a polling station this morning. Around 7:30 a.m., there were no lines and no shortage of parking spaces in the church lot.

But as the minutes ticked by, people did arrive, largely a younger and middle-aged crowd, many on their way to work. All of the voters who stopped by between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. were African American. Many voted straight ticket Democratic.

In terms of the propositions, voters felt the strongest about Proposition 19, the ballot measure that would legalize marijuana in the state of California. Those who voted “yes” were enthusiastic in their support, and those who voted “no” were just as strong in their disapproval.

One woman emerged from the church pushing her mother in a wheelchair. On the five candidates and issues addressed in our exit poll, mother and daughter voted the same except for Prop 19. The daughter was for it, but the mother was against it.

“I think it’s a generational thing,” the younger woman explained. “But it’s OK. We agree on more than we disagree on.”

When asked about Proposition 23, several people had to look at their voter’s guide to see how they had voted. Prop 23 would suspend the Global Warming Act of 2006 until unemployment drops below 5.5 percent.

Transfiguration Catholic Church, Leimert Park
By Kaitlin Parker

imageA little after 8 a.m. at the polling center at Transfiguration Catholic Church, a lot of people were coming and going. Many of them were not voting, however, at least not at this location.

Transfiguration is also attached to a school, and several parents dropped their kids off for the day, and were headed to a different assigned polling place to vote.

Once the school day began, the rush of parents slowed, and a calm fell over the courtyard that served as the entranceway to the polling area.

Several community members eventually began to show up and cast their ballots. The voters here were an older African American population.

Everyone who participated in our quick, 10-person exit poll voted for Jerry Brown for governor and Barbara Boxer for Senate. Only one person participating in the poll voted for Steve Cooley for attorney general. The other nine voters went with Democrat Kamala Harris.

The propositions were not nearly as unanimous. Proposition 19 appears to be a dividing issue. Six people voted for it and four against it. For Proposition 23, three voted in favor and seven against it.

As in other Leimert Park polling places, most voters knew exactly what Prop 19 is and how they voted. Many had strong feelings about Prop 23 as well, but just as many had to consult their voter guides.

Los Angeles Fire Station No. 34, Leimert Park
By Kaitlin Parker

imageA small line crept toward the front of the garage and polling station at Los Angeles Fire Station No. 34 this morning. Although the building was not crowded, there were a minimal number of voting booths and only two people to work the front registration table. Voters waited their turn and then worked their way through the voting process, many emerging confidently and with smiles.

“Whitman is not gonna win,” proclaimed a man named Oneil, wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt.

“I don’t usually vote,” he said. “But this time I had to get out and make a difference. Whitman hates unions, and I’ve got a union job with the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority).”

If the quick exit polls at Leimert Park polling centers are any indication, Oneil is right.

One person said she voted for Whitman, but didn’t care about that race. She was just trying to get down the ballot so she could vote yes on Proposition 19.

There was a large range of ages voting at the Fire Station. Younger and older voters patiently waited their turns. The crowd was largely African American, but a few Latino and white community members were in line as well.

Of the voters we spoke to at the Fire Station, votes were almost evenly split in regards to Proposition 19. People here had stronger feelings about Proposition 23 though, and only one person surveyed voted for it.

One woman who had strong feelings against Proposition 23 is also a Green Party member. She voted for Green Party Candidates in all the races in which they were running.

“But please,” she said. “Don’t tell my mother.”

Her mother emerged a few moments later, having voted for all Democrats. Mother and daughter both voted yes on Prop 19 and no on Prop 23.

Watts Towers Arts Center, Watts
By: Christine Trang

By noon Tuesday, about 90 Watts residents voted in the midterm elections at the Watts Towers Arts Center on East 107th Street. Just outside the polling place, the “Voters Bill of Rights” appeared in about five different languages. A print out of the American flag was placed on the front door, while another hung in front of the center.

Gail Elder, a Watts resident, worked at one of the tables inside the polling place. She said one of her main concerns in this election is the amount of money cut from programs she thinks are most important, including those for disabled children and the elder.

“I think there are ways to bring money back to the state,” Elder added. “If we just had the community help us with jobs that people are normally paid to do, that might loosen up some money elsewhere to create more jobs for other things.”

One Watts resident said he is not 100 percent happy with his options on this year’s ballot, but he still exercised his right to vote.

“I had to use the process of elimination,” Billy Dunaway said.

Many voted democratic, but Pastor Willie Green, a Watts resident, said he voted republican because the party “closely followed what is in the Bible.”

“People are pulling so many stunts in this election, including the taking of votes from illegal immigrants,” Green added. “We are also in a place where our president is trying to change us into a socialist nation. He wants to model our country after a European country.”

Elder gives her thoughts on Proposition 19 and budget cuts to certain programs that affect her, her family and people she knows:

Roger Williams Baptist Church, West Adams
By Emily Frost

By 11 a.m., registrars at Roger Williams Baptist Church on Adams Boulevard, just off Vermont Avenue in West Adams, had seen 69 voters. They’d opened at 7 a.m. and would close at 8 p.m. They weren’t sure how many people they’d see — but the atmosphere was quiet mid-day and had been all morning. Voters were a mix of students and residents from all racial backgrounds.

Two representatives from Election Protection reported that everything at this polling place checked out. And even though political signs were allowed beyond 100 feet of the church, there were no representatives one from any race or proposition.

All of the voters I spoke with were confused about Proposition 23, which if passed would repeal the Global Warming Act of 2006. Voters who had voted democratic and progressive down the ticket were confused about whether they should vote for or against Prop 23. If they wanted emissions reduced, they asked me — was that yes or no? Many couldn’t remember what the proposition was about or how they’d voted.

Angel Conners, a West Adams resident, said she was voting because it was her way to “voice my choice.”

Anne Hudson, another resident, was surprised by the idea that this mid-term election was more remarkable than others or would bring out more voters: “I vote all the time,” she laughed, “ALL the time!”

Tommy Williams, a USC student, said he expected a larger turnout from younger voters. This was his second voting opportunity since 2008.

Walker Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church, South Central
By Raquel Estupinan

Voters from South Central Los Angeles came to the Walker Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church to cast their votes on Tuesday. At about 11:45 a.m., there was a steady flow of people trickling in with each voting booth occupied.

Poll organizer Ana Garcia said it had been busy all day.

The voters at this time were mostly elderly citizens, but there were a few middle-aged and younger folks.

“I feel so old doing this,” said first-time voter Jamie Aguilar, 19.

Aguilar said he was confused before voting, and still was after voting. “The candidates didn’t have much to say about how they’re going to change Sacramento,” Aguilar said.

Of the 10 voters interviewed, only one identified as Republican.

imageIsaid Nieto said he wanted to vote for “someone who would direct California in the right way,” so he voted for Meg Whitman because of her “business experience and power.”

“My respect is for Barbara Boxer, but she has to take some time to relax,” Nieto said.

An elderly African American woman who was voting asked another voter for assistance. The other voter told her to “pick Democrat.”

Maria de Jesus Medina, who voted for Jerry Brown, could not remember anyone else she voted for. But she did remember choosing a name on the ballot that sounded Latino, Medina said.

During this lunch hour at Walker Temple, it appeared to be the trend to vote against Propositions 19 and 23.

Ramon Hernandez was against Proposition 19. “It’s not okay. We have a lot of problems right now, it would bring more problems,” Hernandez said.

“I know too many people who smoke. I don’t think people should be high going to work. They will abuse it,” George Davis said about Proposition 19.

Only one person of the 10 interviewed voted in support of Proposition 23. Those against, including Aguilar, said they cared about remedying pollution.

Aguilar said Assembly Bill 32—which Proposition 23 aims to postpone—is “a valuable and effective law,” and that in the current economy, reducing the employment rate to 5.5 percent is “impossible.”

El Santo Nino Community Center, South Central
By Raquel Estupinan

imageProposition 19 brought many voters who might not usually vote out to the polls, said Fernando Sarabia, a Los Angeles resident who has been doing poll work for four years.

This afternoon voters at El Santo Nino Community Center on E. 23rd St. voted for what they believed was important. The crowd was mostly older and Hispanic.

All except one of the eight interviewed voters identified as democrats and voted against the measure to legalize marijuana.

Jose Lopez, who gave up smoking 20 years ago, came out to the polls to vote no on Proposition 19 because he says “it’s a drug”

As for Proposition 23, Lopez said he did not remember if he voted yes or no. “It doesn’t matter. They could do whatever they want,” Lopez said.

Other voters had different motives. First-time voter Luciano Morales said he came out to vote because his professor offered it as extra credit. His friend who had already voted by mail waited outside for him.

Morales said he had previously not voted because he believes that his vote “doesn’t make a difference anyway.” And although he said his sister filled out the “cheat sheet” for how he should vote, she left Proposition 19 up to him.

image“Why would I want it to become legal? I’m thinking about future generations,” Morales said. “I believe it’s not right. It’s going to affect the kids.”

Even though Morales also voted against Proposition 23—the measure to postpone the state’s clean energy regulations—only because his sister advised him to, he read about the initiative right after voting, and said that the issue, again, “goes back to the kids,” referring to how pollution affects children in his community.

Jay Tipton also looked to others for suggestions on who to vote for. He voted democrat and voted according to the suggestions of the NAACP.

“I needed help with the judges. Nobody knows who they are. I didn’t know what they stood for,” Tipton said.

In contrast, Manuel Cedillo, who was exiting the polling site, said he would like to vote but cannot because he is undocumented. Cedillos has lived in the U.S. for 25 years. If he were allowed to vote, Cedillo said he would vote against Proposition 19 because he believes it is a drug.

Another voter opposed Proposition 19. Hiram Grisson said that legalizing marijuana would only create more issues for the state to deal with. As for Proposition 23, Grisson said, “We need clean air. Companies go to the extreme.”

Los Angeles Fire Station No. 15, University Park
By Holly Butcher

F. Griffith Joyner Elementary School, Watts
By Catherine Cloutier

image“I had to do my civic duty and vote. It’s voting day,” said Rodney Askew outside of the polling place at F. Griffith Joyner Elementary School at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

“Get your vote on,” he added.

Unfortunately, “getting your vote on” was not a popular trend at the elementary school in Watts, just blocks from the Jordan Downs Public Housing Development.

Local residents trickled into the school, as the sun beat down on its concrete entrance. It was unseasonably warm for early November, and several passersby commented on the excessive heat.

A few people who passed the threshold of the polling place proved not to be voters at all. Many were simply parents picking up their children from school.

Juana Lopez did not vote on Tuesday because she does not have United States citizenship. Originally from Guatemala, Lopez said she wanted to gain American citizenship not so she could vote but so she could learn English in school.

Those that did vote did so democratically. Instead of addressing particular candidates, one voter simply said, “I voted Democrat.”

“California hasn’t been stable in about eight years now,” Askew said. “So with Brown, he knows how to balance the budget so it won’t take him too long to balance it. Then, people can get save their jobs and they won’t have to cut too much funding.”

Only one of 10 voters surveyed voted for Carly Fiorina for Senate. No one voted for Meg Whitman for governor.

The one race that was close among voters at Joyner Elementary was that of Proposition 19. The voters polled were divided by at 5-4 margin.

Askew voted against Proposition 19. “If you legalize marijuana that’s going to make things like drunk driving happen. It’s crazy. That’s a no brainer.”

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, South Central
By Raquel Estupinan

imageA large crowd of all ages gathered at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on E. 34th St. in Los Angeles to vote. For some voters that were just arriving from work, 5:30 p.m. was the soonest they could make it to the polls.

Voter Ana Gonzalez, who supported green party candidates, was the anomaly from the 14 people interviewed. She said she read about the candidates and the initiatives and chose to vote for whom and what she thought could improve the state.

Gonzalez said she voted for United States Senatorial Candidate Duane Roberts of the Green Party because the description under his name said he was a community volunteer.

The voters were mostly of Latino descent and Spanish-speaking. Throughout the day in South Central Los Angeles polling sites, Proposition 19 continued to be a popular initiative.

Gonzalez was also one of four who voted “yes” on Proposition 19. “When something’s prohibited, people want to use it more,” Gonzalez said.

imageAnother voter, Ana Fernandez, said that Proposition 19 has its pros and cons, but she voted against it. “It would be good to legalize it to prevent violence, but it’s bad for the youth,” Fernandez said. “It would be bad because legalizing it would make it easier to get.”

One couple came to vote, but only one was eligible. Filiberto Acosta waited outside while his wife voted.

Acosta is undocumented and has lived in the United States for 30 years. He said that if he were a citizen, he would vote for Jerry Brown and vote against Proposition 19 because “it’s not a good idea.”

A few voters said they were unclear about what was on the ballot, but they still made it a point to come out and vote.

“I just picked whatever,” Blanca Camacho said. Camacho voted for both democratic and republican candidates.

“We did our patriotic duty,” Paul Thornhill told his son as they exited the polling site.

The Village Green, Baldwin Hills
By Emily Henry

imagePoll workers and community members alike were surprised by the after-work rush at the Village Green polling station. From 5:30pm until around 7pm, a line packed the small lobby. One woman, who said she had been a resident of the Village Green community for more than 30 years, commented that it was the most people she had ever seen at the polling station.

The predominantly African-American crowd seemed to vote overwhelmingly Democratic, according to our exit survey. However, sharing voting preferences about Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana caused concern for some. One woman with her pre-teen son declined to say aloud that she had voted in favor of Prop. 19 and instead pointed at her ballot pamphlet to indicate her choice. Support for Prop. 19 outweighed opposition by a small margin at the Village Green polling station in Baldwin Hills. One poll worker upon hearing that Proposition 19 was failing in California commented that he was extremely surprised and had thought it would be an easy pass.

Proposition 23, which would have over-turned certain climate laws, seemed difficult to recall for many voters exiting the polls. However, the majority seemed to vote against Prop. 23, reflecting the state-wide trend.

Of the 30 voters polled concerning the gubernatorial race, only one person voted for Meg Whitman. There were 28 votes for Jerry Brown and one for Libertarian candidate Dale Ogden.