Hours in Line? Voters Say It's Worth It

Voter turnout in Los Angeles County was on pace to set a record Tuesday, with 38.107 percent of the county's 4.3 million registered voters casting ballots as of noon.

Morning showers across Southern California didn't stop people from waiting in line for their chance to vote.

"This is my first time. It feels great," voter James Lee said, despite waiting two hours in line.  In South LA, Harold Goosby called the wait part of his duty, saying "I always vote here, I don't mind waiting as long as it takes."

LA County is the nation's single largest voting district with a record-shattering 4.3 million voters -- more voters than in 30 states.  This year, a majority of the impact of that vote may very well fall on the minority vote.  In LA County, 13% of registered voters are African-American and 10% are Latino, according to the New Frontier Democratic Club and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

"The minority vote is key in this election," says Danny Bakewell, Jr., editor of the LA Sentinel, the state's largest and oldest African-American newspaper.  "You can can feel the energy," he adds, "for the first time we all feel like we have a say in these elections."

And with the anticipated record turnout came some unanticipated trouble early on this morning.  A suitcase holding recording devices was stolen from a Granda Hills Church.  Electrical power went out at a church in Crenshaw, forcing voters to cast their votes in the adjacent parking lot.

Dean Logan, the registrar for La County, says a replacement suitcase was being sent to the San Fernando Valley and the Deaprtment of Water and Power was on its way to Crenshaw. 

"What everyone must remember," Logan reasoned, "voting is still taking place everywhere in La County."

It took the LA Department of Water and Power four hours to restore electricity to the Smyrna Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Mid-City.  Poll workers there had moved the booths outside into the parking lot and some voters had volunteered to bring in candles to light up the conference room if the rain hadn't stopped.

"I'm voting with reservations," said Andrew Gouche, a voter in Mid-City, "but I'm trusting it'll all work out."

Poll workers said the concern had to do with the recording device for ballots: wihtout power, voters were asked to take extra time to make sure they marked their ballots correctly as the machine would not be able to do it for them.  Blind voters requiring assistance with audio ballots were a concern, too, but poll workers say they were lucky no one needed it before the power was restored with generators.

"It's an important day and I want to be a part of it," Andrea Jones said as she arrived at the Registrar's office in Norwalk. Andrea Jones is a performer in the touring company of the Broadway musical, "The Lion King."  Two flights from Kansas City canceled before her plane finally touched down.  She came straight from the airport to vote.

The line to vote may feel longer than the plane trip from Kansas City but Andrea says she doesn't mind.  "It's worth it. I wouldn't forgive myself if I wasn't here to vote.  It's incredible," she said.

Nancy Goosby in South LA agrees, "I'm here to make history for my children and my grandchildren."

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