It’s the day after Election Day and no one has the bandwidth for anything too serious, so here are a few snippets of my Tuesday.
Just like Garbo, voters “vant” to be alone
Jose Gaspar, reporter extraordinaire for KBAK Channel 29, ran into an issue this election that I hope can be sorted out before the next one.
He and another KBAK reporter were told by county elections chief Karen Rhea that they could not film voters waiting in line outside the Elections Division.
They weren’t trying to film people voting, mind you, just waiting in line inside a public building.
Gaspar argued that several newspapers, including The Californian, had all kinds of photos of people in lines at polling places and that he, himself, had interviewed people outside and inside polling places in past elections.
Rhea was adamant that the law counts filming people outside a polling places as potential "voter intimidation" and it wasn’t going to happen on her watch.
Gaspar checked with acting County Counsel Mark Nations, who backed Rhea up.
He asked if The Californian’s photographers had had similar problems.
I got mixed reports.
During the 2008 election, one of our photographers was prohibited from shooting at a polling place.
Tuesday, that same photographer got a little flak at a polling place. He asked to speak to the supervisor, that person called election HQ and he was OK'd to shoot.
I looked up the law, Elections Code 18541 if you wanna check it yourself.
It says “No person shall, with the intent of dissuading another person from voting, within 100 feet of a polling place do any of the following:
“...Photograph, video record, or otherwise record a voter entering or exiting a polling place.”
At first glance that seems straightforward, to my, and Gaspar’s, dismay.
But I’m going to argue that the “intent” part is a key to this issue.
The media has no intent to dissuade, persuade or any other kind of “suade” voters.
We’re just there to record the facts.
And the fact is, voter turnout was a big part of Tuesday’s story.
As I said, I’m hoping we can work this out for future elections.
Never too old
I got a call Tuesday morning from a 97-year-old Delano woman named Angie who was trying to figure out how to help her 91-year-old sister cast her ballot.
The two have voted by mail for years.
But this year, Angie's sister's ballot didn't arrive.
About a week ago, Angie said, her sister called the Elections Division but didn't get a very good answer as to when the ballot was sent and what to do since it hadn’t arrived.
Luckily, a neighbor of the sisters (who live next door to each other) is a poll worker and explained they could come to a polling place and the younger sister could vote using a provisional ballot.
Angie said she would try, but her younger sister is disabled so it would be tough.
I sure hope they make it.
A Georgia transplant, who obviously hasn’t voted in a while, asked frantically:
“Do they sell beer in California on Election Day?!”
Brother, they better.