Council President Emeritus Wesson Calls on Secretary Padilla to Increase Voting Centers In Response to Working Group Recommendations
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Council President Emeritus Herb Wesson has called on California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to reject the Secretary’s COVID-19 November Elections Working Group’s recommendation to waive state legal requirements for in-person voting and replace them with an alternative plan of establishing in-person voting “goals,” which would give local officials discretion to establish their own in-person voting standards. According to Wesson, the proposal could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands, if not millions of California voters, particularly from historically disadvantaged communities. Wesson joins with labor unions, election reform advocates, and environmental justice organizations throughout the state calling on Secretary Padilla to reject this component of the group’s report.
“Our March primary elections were nothing short of a disaster,” Wesson wrote in the letter. “Folks waited hours in line – a form of voter suppression in itself – to cast a vote. It was unacceptable and disconcerting. These elections highlighted that there’s a significant desire from people to physically get out to the polls, and government should not be discouraging that in any way. And as we’ve seen in states like Wisconsin in the last several weeks, whether we like it or not, folks will still get out to the polls in the midst of a public health crisis. So while we should encourage people to vote by mail, it’s also our responsibility to make sure Californians can safely exercise their right to vote in person in November.”
“The proposed ratio of 1 vote center for 20,000 voters is woefully inadequate,” Wesson continued. “It does not take into account the low-income, racially diverse, low homeownership and high-density communities who disproportionately vote in person at their polling places. These are areas, some of which I represent, with the highest late voter turnout and those who are most likely to have issues with their vote-by-mail ballots. Reducing the number of vote centers available will not only make it harder for historically disadvantaged communities to vote, it will also make it more dangerous to voters due to longer wait times and lines, increasing their risk to exposure of COVID-19 and having the exact opposite effect of your and the Working Group’s intentions.”
“I urge you to do just the opposite and expand the voting centers available by upholding the state’s local requirements and expanding upon them by requiring a voting center for every 5,000 residents,” Wesson wrote in closing.