[Image courtesy of electionlineWeekly]
Today marks the last Friday of summer – on the calendar if not the meteorological charts – and electionlineWeekly’s Mindy Moretti is in the spirit with a look at a polling place where it’s almost always summer:
A few tables and chairs, voting equipment, signage and dedicated volunteers — polling places across the country all contain similar elements, but what makes them unique is where they are located.
With this weekend marking the unofficial end to summer, we thought we’d profile a polling place where summer never ends.
Los Angeles County is home to many unique polling places, from remote islands only accessible by boat to garages to a hotel, but without out a doubt one of the most unique is at the lifeguard station in Venice Beach.
To be clear, the polling place isn’t located in the picturesque lifeguard tower – it’s in the lifeguard headquarters [above], but it is still at the beach where voters cast their ballots with the sound of waves crashing in the background and the scent of suntan lotion lingering in the air.
Los Angeles County lifeguards are a division of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and while fire stations are used as polling places nationwide, this is the only polling place at a lifeguard station electionline is aware of.
According to Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters Dean Logan, the polling place has been in use for about 14 years now — some 40+ elections.
On average, there are approximately 2,600 registered voters eligible to vote at this polling place during major elections and voter turnout is typically 17 percent (on average).
Since the polling place is located at the beach does it have a different dress code than other polling places? Logan said no, so even if you’re not wearing shoes or a shirt, you’ll get service.
“Other than adhering to no ‘electioneering’ laws — e.g. visible display of candidate names, logos, ballot measures on shirts, buttons, etc. — there are no established rules about attire at the polling place,” Logan said.
Surprisingly, the Venice Beach polling place is actually one of the more difficult polling places to staff on Election Day.
“The precincts placed in this polling place are considered ‘hard to recruit’ precincts, which result in recruiting poll workers outside of precinct,” Logan said.
With a polling place located at the beach, one could think this is ripe for all sorts of problems. Sand in the voting machines, carnauba wax on ballots, the possibilities are endless, but Logan said they have not experienced any problems like that at the site and the only complaint they have on file was about a problem with a drain cover in the sidewalk leading up to the entrance of the polling place.
“There is nothing we can think of that is unique about this polling place other that its located at the beach,” Logan said.
Thanks to Mindy for this farewell to summer (and hello to election season?) … The blog will, like many of you, take Labor Day off but we’ll be back next Tuesday September 8!