Early voting off to a ‘slow and steady’ start

You’ve probably spent the last few weeks tossing mailers into the recycling bin and fielding text messages from cheerful volunteers, but campaign season is finally winding down and Election Day is upon us.

All Vote Centers across LA County will be operational for early voting as of Saturday, Nov. 5, but a select number of centers have been open for extended early voting beginning one week earlier on Saturday, Oct. 29

Among those is one in Santa Monica: the Vote Center at St. Anne’s Church on Colorado and 20th Street. There, a dedicated team of poll workers and volunteers has been hard at work checking in voters, answering questions and wiping down vote machines; so far, no hiccups have been reported.

“It’s a pretty straightforward, well-thought-out process,” Vote Center lead Jasper Brannon said when asked about set-up and operations at St Anne’s.

Brannon, whose day job is working on the government and legislative affairs team for the LA County Office of Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office, said voters have been coming in “slow and steady” since the Vote Center first opened last Saturday morning. He also said voters have been a mix of ages with no clear demographic showing up in higher numbers. “It has been really chill,” he said, adding that everyone he has interacted with, voters and volunteers alike, has been “kind” and “super positive” throughout the week the center has been open so far.

The same seems to ring true countywide.

LA County Office of Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk senior information specialist Mike Sanchez reported no issues with voting had come into the office as of Tuesday afternoon when the Daily Press went to print.

“Voting activities have been smooth and steady, and I am not currently aware of any issues impacting the voting process,” Sanchez wrote in an email.

One voter casting a ballot at St. Anne’s on Wednesday afternoon was Sawtelle resident Kristin Rowles, who said she was grateful to have the opportunity to vote early and feel safe at the Vote Centers around LA County.

“I’m also a mom of three teenagers,” Rowles said — a high school sophomore, a high school senior and a college freshman. “My kids are watching. I just feel like it’s super important — maybe the most important election of our lives right now.”

To prepare, Rowles said she and her husband spent time reviewing voter guides and weighing candidates and ballot measures so they would be prepared to cast votes on the lengthy ballot featuring around 50 races.

Rowles and the other voters who came and went from St Anne’s on Wednesday were some of the roughly 15,000 Vote Center voters who have participated in this election so far — though that number is dwarfed by the 626,400 vote by mail ballots Sanchez reported have been received across LA County as the election has been underway.

Beginning on Saturday, additional Vote Centers will open daily from 10 am to 7 pm Saturday through Monday and 7 am to 8 pm on Election Day at Roosevelt Elementary on Montana Avenue, National Typewriter Company on Euclid, Joslyn Park on Kensington Road, Professional Development Learning Center on 4th Street, Marine Park on Marine Street, Santa Monica College on Pico Boulevard, Virginia Avenue Park on Virginia Avenue and Grant Elementary School on Pearl Street, as well as numerous Vote Centers all over LA County. The Vote Center at St Anne’s will also remain open through Election Day.

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