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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Hundreds Use Wheels to Beat Voter Deadline

October 11, 2000|JEANNETTE SANCHEZ-PALACIOS

LOS ANGELES — Only in car-happy California could someone drive by and register to vote in less than 10 minutes.

Hundreds of people did just that late Tuesday. Some admitted that they were last-minute types who tend to file their income taxes on the last day.

"I haven't re-registered because of procrastination," William Green said with an embarrassed smile. "I probably wouldn't be able to vote if it weren't for this event."

Green and others drove up to the Hollywood Bowl parking lot in time to beat the midnight deadline and be eligible to vote in the Nov. 7 general election.

The effort, called "Midnight Madness," was organized by the California secretary of state's office and the Los Angeles County registrar.

"I didn't know it was the last day to register," said Frederick Sarmast. "When I found out [by reading The Times], I came straight from work to register." Sarmast said he had just put it off.

"It's so L.A.," said Damen Calamandrei, who drove up in a white sports utility vehicle and registered. "It's all about convenience."

This was the second time the in-car registration was held in Los Angeles. The first time was for the March primary, when about 2,500 people registered, said Dawn M. Mehlhaff, of the secretary of state's office.

If only one person had registered, it would have been worth it, said Secretary of State Bill Jones.

After the registration event began at 4 p.m., 89 people signed up in the first hour. By 8 p.m., 868 people had completed the application process, Mehlhaff said.

One voter applicant, Sherry Jennings, said Tuesday that she would not have registered if such an event had not been held. "I prefer to register this way," she said. "It definitely beats being harassed at the grocery stores to get registered."

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