Southern California votes amid the most unusual election in modern history

Voters cast their ballots at Dodger Stadium in Elysian Park over Halloween weekend. Photo by Brian Feinzimer for KCRW

There was a festive atmosphere at Dodger Stadium this morning, as mariachis performed next to voting stations in the Top Deck area.

“Dodger Stadium is my home away from home, so being able to cast my ballot here is just very significant for me,” says voter Sonya Guerrero. “This is something that we could just not pass. I’ve been telling everyone that I know, ‘Get out there and vote like your life depends on it.’” 

Maryam Danishwar, a 39-year-old San Fernando Valley resident, voted in Norwalk today because she wanted to vote in-person.

“I was very surprised that there is a lack of a mob to get in. It’s very quick. It’s very organized,” Danishwar says. “So if anyone hasn’t voted, you should go vote because it’s easier than going to the bathroom.”

This is Danishwar’s first election. She was born in Afghanistan, and became a citizen in June.

“The impetus was because I wanted my voice to count in this election,” Danishwar says. “Every other election I tend to lean Democratic, but in this one I thought it was important that I become naturalized and vote.”

Not every voter was as optimistic. Stanton resident Anh Luu was one of the first people in line to vote at the Orange County Registrar’s office this morning.

She got there at 6:30 a.m., and said she came to vote in-person because she heard stories of ballots being tossed.

“How can we trust the system? How can we trust even the postman anymore? So vote [sic] in person is the most secure way to do it, and makes your vote count,” Luu says.

Mistrust and anxiety are high. Some store shelves are empty. People are reportedly stocking up on food and other supplies. Businesses in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and along Melrose fear another round of the violence, vandalism, and looting that happened after George Floyd’s killing.

Nearly 100 million people voted before today — already 75% of the total turnout in 2016. The final tally this year could top 150 million, which would be a record.

Despite the unprecedented enthusiasm, voting has been unlike any other year in modern memory. It has a lot of challenges, including efforts to invalidate votes already cast, and President Trump encouraging his supporters to monitor polling stations.

Carla Javier, Jill Replogle and Saul Gonzalez from the California Newsroom provided voter sound from Orange County and Dodger Stadium.

Credits

Guest:
Ari Berman - senior reporter for Mother Jones, author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America” - @AriBerman

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin, Rebecca Mooney, Nihar Patel