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L.A. County Braces for a High Voter Turnout

Election officials focus on securing big venues and recruiting veteran poll workers for Oct. 7.

August 20, 2003|Daren Briscoe | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles County officials are scrambling to prepare for what some predict will be unusually heavy voter turnout in the Oct. 7 recall election.

To forestall any problems caused by potential overcrowding at the polls, election officials are selecting polling places that can handle a high volume of voters, recruiting veteran poll workers and forbidding employees from taking some days off.

Although there are still some unknowns, like who exactly will foot the bill for all the extra preparations, one thing is clear, county Registrar-Recorder Conny McCormack told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday: "We're looking at an election of potentially presidential proportions."

At McCormack's request, the board approved $13.4 million to cover the county's costs for the election -- although it hopes to be reimbursed by the state.

"There's no question the county will be going to the state saying, 'You need to pay for this election,' " McCormack said. "The question is whether or not [the request for reimbursement] will be accepted."

The money is needed now, McCormack said, because the compressed election schedule means the county has begun an election preparation process that normally takes six months, including buying sample ballots and ballot cards, hiring poll workers and paying the postage fees for absentee ballots.

Under questioning from the supervisors, McCormack said that on election day there will be fewer polling places than in a typical election, but more polling booths and poll workers, which will allow the county to rely on a smaller corps of more seasoned poll workers.

Polling places will generally be located at large venues with ample parking, like community centers and parks, and McCormack emphasized that voters can also vote by absentee ballot or by touch-screen machines that will be available at 12 locations around the county from Sept. 24 to Oct. 3.

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