1st Council District candidates cry foul over last-minute change to polling location

A polling location for the 1st Council District special election taking place tomorrow has been changed and some community members were only recently made aware of it.

Multiple candidates raised alarm over the change in venue from Washington Middle School to the Long Beach Rescue Mission across the street after the Long Beach City Clerk’s office notified them Monday morning.

“As a candidate I am disappointed to hear this is a last minute change that adds confusion to an already low voter turnout,” Mariela Salgado told the Long Beach Post.

In a post on Facebook, candidate Elliot Gonzales questioned the tardiness on behalf of the county in notifying constituents of the venue change as well as the decision to change the polling place from a school to a men’s-only homeless shelter that is non-ADA compliant.

Salgado shared the same concerns.

An open letter to Mayor Robert Garcia:Dear Mayor,As of my writing this email the county's website had not been…

Posted by Elliot for Long Beach on Monday, November 4, 2019

 

City Clerk Monique De La Garza said her office only found out about the location change on Friday when her staff checked the county’s list of polling locations so they could add them to flyers they intended to distribute.

Her office was never formally notified by the county and she does not know when the decision was made.

County election officials did not respond to a request for comment.

De La Garza said county officials told her the location was changed because the school site was not large enough and more room was needed.

Her office was also made aware of the rescue mission’s non-ADA compliance but county officials said they will make curbside voting available for those who need it.

Curbside voting allows for a poll worker to bring necessary materials, including a ballot, to the voter’s vehicle.

Election Day Tuesday for Council District 1: Everything you need to know

De La Garza was told by the county that they let voters know of the change on Friday by sending out mailers, emails and making robo calls.

Her office announced the changes on social media today and via emails to candidates this morning.

She noted that the rescue mission was used as a location during the primary and general elections this spring for the 33rd senate district race.

De La Garza said signage will be placed at Washington Middle School on Tuesday directing voters to the rescue mission and that her office will be available to answer any questions and serve as a vote-by-mail drop off center.

This is the first local election that the county is exclusively organizing since the passage of Senate Bill 415.

“It’s a new process for us,” De La Garza admitted. “I think communication could be improved.”

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters can call the city clerk’s office from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 562-570-6789.

The following locations will serve as polling places:

  • Drake Park, 951 Maine Ave.
  • Long Beach Rescue Mission, 1335 Pacific Ave.
  • Roosevelt Elementary School, 1574 Linden Ave.
  • Covenant Manor, 600 E. 4th St.
  • Cesar Chavez Park, 401 Golden Ave.

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. Growing up as one of six kids in the working-class immigrant suburb of South Gate, she was taught the importance of civic engagement and to show compassion for others. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015. An avid Harry Potter fan, Stephanie now lives in Bixby Knolls with her boyfriend and their bearded dragon, Austin.
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