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Voter suppression! Voter suppression!

June 3, 2008 |  4:53 pm

Billjohnsonclose

So as I'm getting ready to vote this morning, I look through my pile of literature from the state and county to make sure the address of my polling place is the same as usual. The only current piece of mail I find is an absentee voter pack, which does not contain the address and which I then throw away. I head down to the usual polling place and find it's open for business.

But when they check me out on the rolls, I discover I'm marked down as the recipient of an absentee ballot, and thus ineligible for a real ballot. It turns out that the absentee ballot I threw in a dumpster an hour before was the only ballot I was allowed, and I was supposed to drop that off at the polling place. The kind folks at the polling place provided me with a provisional ballot and I was required to fill out a bunch of personal information, including the last four digits of my social. (Is there any activity left in America that does not require you to bear the mark of the beast?)

ManonbikeThe trick is that I never requested a vote-by-mail ballot, and would never vote by mail under any circumstances. I vote out of a sentimental attachment to dying ways of life, for the tiny bit of satisfaction I get from taking the trip to the polling place, seeing all the earnest oldsters behind the folding table and going through the rituals of our democratic charade. What could be more pointless than voting absentee, where you miss out on the whole Four-Freedoms vibe of the activity? Today I even brought my camera to get some nice election-day pics, but since I remained the only voter in the Hollywood Neighborhood City Hall throughout my ballot brouhaha, that didn't amount to much. Still, here are some shots of folks hanging out in and around Hollywood.

Twowomen_2 My questions: 1) Why would I have received an absentee ballot when I didn't request one? The poll workers, who were pretty clearly hoping I would just leave, said it was probably a mixup. On the page that had my name, I and one other person had been marked down as having received a vote-by-mail ballot, so it doesn't seem to be that common to order them. (I wouldn't even know how to order one, let alone how to get off the vote-by-mail list that I seem to be on now.)

2) What are the odds that my provisional ballot will get counted? This is one of the lowest-impact elections I can recall, and as indicated above I'm not a big believer in elections, government or democracy, so I won't get exercised either way, but in her list of reasons for giving provisional ballots, Secretary of State Debra Bowen says I'm entitled to have my vote counted:

  • Records indicate that the voter requested an absentee ballot and the voter fails to turn in the absentee ballot at the polls on Election Day. The Elections Official’s Office will check the records, and if the voter did not vote an absentee ballot, the voter’s provisional ballot will be counted.

Of course, that's if some sneaky dumpster-diver didn't grab my absentee ballot, fill it out and hand-deliver it sometime today! Seems like a lot of trouble to go to just to commit vote fraud, but you never know. Did I mention that more people seem to be on bikes these days?

Womanonbike

I love it when you can actually see in your daily life the evidence of one of these big news stories we're always writing about (oil price spike hits Angelenos hardest!). Maybe it's just my imagination, but traffic has seemed a lot lighter in recent weeks, and my slow route in this morning took me past hundreds of alt.transporation users:

Phoneandbus

See? It's the market, not smart growth or urban planning or any other government activity, that is actually getting people out of their cars. Which is another reason I have to keep harping about this ballot business. Election day is one of the few times that I actually get out and around in the morning, before reporting to the impenetrable fortress of the L.A. Times building. If I haven't got a polling place to go to, I'll be cutting myself off from the wellspring of my success, from the common man.

And speaking of the common man, that first picture above is several weeks old: The Bill Johnson poster became progressively more covered with graffiti and finally vanished entirely from its place at the corner of Beverly and Commonwealth. I wish I could say the graffiti indicated knowledge of our extensive Johnson coverage, but it was all just regular tagging.

Happy election day.

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