Santa Monica Lookout
Santa Monica City Clerk Ready for High Voter Turnout
By Jason Islas
November 2, 2012 -- “Election day is the longest day ever,” said Sarah Gorman, Santa Monica's new city clerk and self-described election geek.
With over 63,000 registered voters in a city of about 90,000 -- and almost a 90 percent turn out last presidential election -- Santa Monica is the place to be for an election geek.
“I'm impressed with the level of engagement of the people,” she said. “It's terrific from a clerk's perspective.
This year, with President Barack Obama up for reelection and two open seats on Santa Monica's City Council, it's likely that participation will reach similar levels.
In order to help residents have easier access to information, the City Clerk's office launched smvote.org, a Santa Monican's one-stop-shop for the 2012 election.
“We wanted to have one place where members of the public could get their information,” Gorman said.
The new site, which is accessible from mobile devices as well as computers, lets viewers peruse candidates by picture, read their statements, get info on ballot measures, look at campaign finance disclosure statements and find their polling station.
Santa Monica, a city that is approximately 8 square miles, will have about 40 polling
stations spread throughout the city's 54 precincts on November 6, including Lincoln Middle School, the Montana Branch Library, the Church in Ocean Park, Virginia Avenue Park and Santa Monica City Hall.
Gorman will be in the office from when the polls open at 7:00 a.m. until after they close, at 8:00 p.m. and though the polling stations are overseen by county officials, Gorman's office will be taking calls.
“We're here to support residents,” she said, which usually means helping them find their polling places.
With polling stations spread throughout the city, they ought to be generally accessible to most people, but “for people who may not be able to leave their vehicles,” the county does allow for curbside voting, according to Efrain Escobedo with the L.A. County Clerk's office.
Residents who have mobility issues can pull up to the curb at a polling station and request that a ballot be brought to them.
Of Santa Monica's 63,588 registered voters, 20,423 are permanent vote-by-mail voters, Escobedo said.
“We've received over 468,000 mail-in ballots” for all of L.A. County, he said. In 2008, they received 811,000.
“We're on pace to equal that,” he said.
So far, Santa Monica's election this year has had only one technical snafu when City Hall sent out a supplemental sample ballot and voter information pamphlet to some 4,000 Malibu residents with a typo that gave the wrong ballot number designations for school board candidates.
The error, however, does not appear on official L.A. County voting materials, Escobedo said. The Santa Monica City Clerk's office has been trying to get the word out to voters that they should use their county materials when voting.
“We're working with county officials,” Gorman said, to see what other steps might need to be taken to make sure the typo doesn't affect people's votes.
Still Gorman is excited for Tuesday's election.
“It's great fun,” she said. “It's showtime.”
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