Silver Lake— Neighborhood Council (NC) elections were in full swing on Saturday, May 14 at the Micheltorena Street Elementary School Auditorium off Sunset Blvd, with voting polls working steadily from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Voters as well as NC candidates and incumbents were interviewed on the sidewalk amid the crowd of community members who hung-out on the school lawn enjoying the voter turnout.
Incumbent and candidate for an at-large seat, Ann-Marie Johnson estimated about 1,000 voter-participants including those who voted on-line. “We started reaching out to our constituents in early April,” Anne-Marie said. “I must have passed out 3, 500 flyers. We did email blasts, and had private ‘meet and greet’ in peoples homes.”
Taryn Poole a new candidate for a region seat said that the NC voting process makes you feel proud to be a Silver Laker, Californian, and American. “It makes you feel better because you’re helping push for decisions for your own neighborhood,” Taryn said. “I can be high tech but chose to be low tech and stand in line.” It took her about 15 minutes to get through the line while getting a chance to talk with neighbors.
In addition, resident Geeta Badkar shared that the voting went well; she filled out the preliminary voting sheet then stepped-in to vote. Next, Genelly Levin president of the Silver Lake Improvement Association remarked that she was very familiar with the process. “If everyone abides by the rules it does work,“ she said.
By noon, the sidewalk in front of the school was packed with people, while at the voting polls, a rush of people waited in line. Resident Betsy Smith Isroelite explained that for the sake of efficiency they [City Clerks Office or Department of Neighborhood Empowerment] could’ve had more poll workers on site or a separate line for those who registered online. “So people won’t be held so long,” she said. “I had to wait an hour to vote and lots of people left.” She closed by adding that this was the first year of on-line voting and that “there are issues to be worked out.”
A candidate, who abstained from giving his name, seemed to pinpoint the on-line problem. “A lot of people didn’t get verification emails, and a lot of people didn’t get the email with the link to the ballot. In many cases the email with the link went into peoples’ spam folders. This was a big, big problem,” he stressed.
The online voting process was a challenge, explained a voter who also declined to give her name. “If you don’t PDF all of your utility bills and other things to show that you live here— or if you don’t have a scanner —you can’t register online,” she said. “Other than that, the process was fine because you can register in person.”
Johnson further expressed that she would’ve rather that they [City Clerks or Department of Neighborhood Empowerment] had experimented with online voting with a smaller population. “We had a lot of problems not getting confirmations with people registering online,” she expressed. On the other hand, she foresees that in the future the election process will go a lot smoother.
It was slightly past 1:00 p. m. when I stopped by the voting polls. The NC Elections Administrator Jay Handal was present supervising the voting center’s final routines. Mr. Handal explained that at 1:00 p.m. everyone who was in line made a circle and those in the circle “get to stay and vote.”
“ Anyone who comes running in after 1:00 p. m. does not get to vote,” he said. “Voters had the opportunity to register and vote online over the past 21 days.”