As the California primary unfolded, South L.A. residents submitted their ballots and cast their votes. Technical difficulties and long lines at some voting locations in the region didn’t stop people from exercising their voting rights. According to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Office, by mid-afternoon nearly 600,000 Los Angelinos had cast their ballot for this year’s Democratic nominee.
GREATER PAGE TEMPLE
Early Tuesday morning, small groups of South L.A. residents gathered at the Greater Page Temple Church of God in Christ where they were greeted by voting clerks and led to a series of yellow stations to cast their vote. After voting, residents exited the building with smiles on their faces, sporting American flag stickers with the words “I voted” on them. This was just one of more than 50 voting locations in South L.A. voters could utilize.
According to Simone Nathanson, the person leading the polling place at the church, the voting polls were set up since Feb. 29. Nathanson said they were expecting more than 150 voters for Super Tuesday.
David Piedo, a 63-year-old resident of West Adams who works with SecondCall.org, said he has been voting since he turned 18, because he feels it is part of his responsibility to his community.
“With the Obama campaign, people came out, and it’s really important now,” Piedo said. “Democrats do more social reform for the people.”
Adrian Reyes, a 19-year-old from South L.A., was proud to vote for the first time because he said he wants a president who will promote change.
“We’ve got to get rid of [Trump],” said Reyes, who cast his ballot for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. “He’s pretty much stepping all over the Constitution.”
EXPOSITION PARK LIBRARY
The line wrapped around the lobby of Exposition Park Library, as community members shuffled through the pages of their voter guides. The quiet atmosphere allowed voters to reflect upon their electoral choices. As voters approached the front of the door to vote, the power went out in the entire building. Shortly after, power was restored, and a few people sighed with relief. However, the line slowed as the power outage had caused half of the machines to stop working.
For many voters, this was their first time voting using an electronic ballot. L.A. resident Greg Sideman said the process was quick and easy to understand, but it wasn’t without its mishaps.
“It's kind of funny that they still print on paper ballots. There was some trouble, the lights went off, and then it seemed like the system rebooted, so it slowed things down for a few minutes,” Sideman said. “But overall, it was pretty simple.”
Terina Keresoma, a media representative at the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Office, confirmed the reports of technical difficulties, stating that the problem originated with the city and had been fixed.
“The power outage has been resolved, and that had to do with the city, not our office,” said Keresoma said.
Ethelinda Edior, an L.A. resident who has voted by mail in the past, decided to stop by the library to vote in person.
“If you're a citizen and you live here, you want the best for your country,” Edior said. “You're supposed to show your power.”
BALDWIN HILLS CRENSHAW PLAZA
Another poll location in South L.A. was at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Shopping Center, where shoppers were able to quickly vote on their way into the mall.
David de Gracia, a 49-year-old Leimert Park resident, said he has worked as a clerk at various polling locations around Los Angeles. Although de Gracia only worked Monday and Tuesday, he said that the polling station has been open for the past 11 days and that roughly 250 voters had passed through so far.
“Some people just need a little bit of a prompt, but everyone kind of leaves happy and liking the system, so it’s really good to hear,” said de Gracia of the new voting system.
Denice Rawls, a 62-year-old resident of South L.A., said that the new technology was extremely convenient.
“If you don't show up and stand up, then you can't make a difference, and you can't be accountable for change,” Rawls said.
Chaimer Williams, a 47-year-old substitute teacher from the area, stopped by to cast his ballot and said he believes that while the process can be difficult, it’s important to vote in every election to be represented.
“It's a privilege that I don't think everybody takes advantage of, but I like to have my voice heard,” Williams said. “I like to complain, so in order to complain I had to try to do my part.”
HUMPHREY HEALTH CENTER
More than thirty people lined up outside a conference room at the Hubert H. Humphrey Comprehensive Health Center. Within the relatively small voting room, there were only five electronic machines for people to cast their votes, and one of them was broken. Voters, most of whom were middle-aged, had to wait for almost an hour before casting their ballots.
The poll workers walked voters through the process of using the new voting technology, step-by-step. Some poll workers were bilingual, helping voters who were not fluent in English navigate the process.
Volunteers also taught residents waiting in line about using the county’s interactive sample ballot. Despite efforts to keep residents engaged, a group of three people left the polls due to the long line.
Gustavo Velez, a 25-year-old South L.A. resident, said he came to vote because he wanted to advocate for himself and the community. He said this was not his first time voting, and he was dissatisfied with the voting center’s lack of resources and long wait.
“I’ve been to other voting polls [in] L.A. County, and they have way more machines to vote,” Velez said. “It’s a very slow process with a very long line … It’s been an-hour wait.”
NORMANDIE SENIOR HOUSING
With 15 electronic machines available for voters, Normandie Senior Housing served as a convenient polling center for South L.A. residents to cast votes. The line was about 10 to 15 people long, leaving voters to wait no more than 15 minutes. The volunteers used iPads to check voters in, explaining to them how to use the new machines.
Traveon House, a 38-year-old resident from South L.A., said he came to the polling center to vote because he wanted to be involved in the voting process.
“I'm learning about issues and understanding that as long as your vote is counted, then you can say that I've contributed toward something positive,” House said.
House said that if polling centers were as convenient and efficient as this one, it would encourage more residents to participate in the voting process.
“I think the more convenient they make it, [and] the more polling stations that are put up in close proximity to people's areas of living, it'll encourage people to get out and actually participate in the process, which is awesome,” House said.
Also at the location was Irvin Monrroy, a 23-year-old South L.A. resident, who said the whole process of casting his vote on the electronic machine only took five minutes. He added that voting is a means to hold the government accountable.
“Ever since I took a political science class, I realized that you have to vote and you have to be aware of what’s happening in our government,” Monrroy said. “If you really don’t control what’s happening, then nothing gets done.”
MANUAL ARTS HIGH SCHOOL
Three sets of open purple double doors welcomed voters to the auditorium of Manual Arts High School in Vermont Square. Voters filled the 14 voting stations lined up along the center of the room and those waiting to cast their vote joined a line leading out the door onto the top steps at the front of the building. Poll workers said early voting brought 58 voters to the polls the day before, a number that they said had already been surpassed by midday on Super Tuesday.
Carlos Navas, 62, of Historic South Central, visited the high school that morning to vote in the Democratic primary. He took a bus a few blocks further than his usual polling place at Trinity Elementary School, preferring the quick ride to the usual walk.
Navas said that this election season has left him thinking a lot about how national changes will affect other Latinos in his community, recalling stories of friends and acquaintances who struggled to cross the border. He's made sure to vote during every election since 2008, after he became a citizen.
“I want change,” Navas said in Spanish. “I want them to give amnesty to the undocumented and to the DACA and Dreamers as well, [they] are the future here in Los Angeles.”