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FEW PROBLEMS NOTED DESPITE FRENETIC PACE.

Byline: Dana Bartholomew and Troy Anderson Staff Writers

An estimated 2 million Los Angeles County voters paraded through the polls Tuesday during a historic recall election marked by long lines and scant parking spots but few reported glitches.

Ballot by ballot, precinct workers from the San Fernando Valley to South Los Angeles handled the extraordinary turnout from dawn till dark with nary a coffee break. Secretary of State Kevin Shelley said polling places around the state also were reporting long lines and voters having difficulty finding places to park but that otherwise things were going smoother than many expected.

``We've been busy like hell, but so far we haven't had any screw-ups. ... This election is no let-up, no let-up,'' said William Hitchins, precinct inspector at the Shadow Ranch Recreation Center in Canoga Park, which ran through 300 voters by 10 a.m.

``Every other election, I can read the newspaper.''

With the county's 4,900 precincts consolidated into 1,786, long lines snaked out of some polling places. Anxious voters eyed the clock as it neared 8 p.m., fearing they wouldn't be allowed to cast their ballot.

At the UPS outlet in Sherman Oaks, where workers expected to process 3,000 voters compared with the usual 500, some voters grumbled as the line stretched out the door.

``We've been here 15 minutes just to check in,'' said Burton Mitchell, a tax attorney waiting to cast his vote.

Officials had to scramble to find couriers to deliver ballots to the Norwalk election headquarters Tuesday night after 249 sheriff's deputies called in with the ``blue flu'' in a continuing series of sickouts over demands for a pay raise.

Registrar-Recorder Conny McCormack said she heard many people had cast provisional ballots, but didn't see a problem in getting them tallied this week.

And while 15 precincts opened late, McCormack termed it a ``very smooth election day.''

But civil rights groups that sued to try to block the election over claims the use of punch-card ballots violates minority voters' rights were looking closely at problems as the basis for another court challenge if the results of the election are close.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said it's all but certain that a legal challenge will be filed seeking to overturn the election outcome. ``This election, no doubt, will be challenged.''

In South Los Angeles, new City Councilman Martin Ludlow claimed voters were suffering mass confusion over the consolidated polls.

``People are going to nonexisting poll sites, having not looked at their sample ballots,'' said Ludlow, whose district encompasses South L.A. ``There are inordinate lines of people during rush hour, waiting 35 to 40 minutes to vote.

``The provisional ballot issue is a nightmare,'' he said, with older African-Americans and Latinos leaving in frustration having not cast their votes.

But in the Valley, few voters reported problems at the polls.

A precinct at Bassett Elementary School in Van Nuys got the wrong rosters of people who had voted by absentee and touch-screen machine. Inspector Ronna Katz said she had to make four phone calls and wait 90 minutes before she got the correct lists.

Janet Malagnini, 74, of San Fernando said she and her husband mailed in absentee ballots in September, only to receive a second set just before the election. She said clerks assured her they monitored each ballot to prevent people from voting twice.

``It certainly made me suspicious to what's happening here,'' she said. ``It just doesn't seem right.''

Jeanine Perron, 76, of Northridge complained there was no parking when when she went to vote at an apartment complex polling place at Roscoe Boulevard and Amestoy Avenue. ``It was a nightmare.''

At the Shepherd's Community Church polling place, confused voters couldn't find the ballot boxes.

``Boy, this is for the birds,'' said Mairead Saelens, 70, of Canoga Park, searching a half-block for the polling station behind the church.

``It's a nightmare for all of us,'' added Vicki Vaughn, the Shepherd precinct inspector. ``We're volunteers, and we couldn't find it either.''

Chatsworth resident June Levine said when she went to vote she deliberately punched through the ballot but had difficulty removing the chads.

``I showed it to (the election worker) and she gave me a new ballot and said, because they have had heavy voting, the boxes were getting full (of chads) and even if you deliberately poked through it, it still may not come out.'' she said. ``I think that is a serious issue.''

But Nancy Stark, an inspector at the Candlewood Way polling place in West Hills who has opened her living room for voters for 32 years, said the election couldn't have gone better.

``It's going very well,'' she said from beneath a hearth decorated with Halloween figurines. ``No glitches.''

Staff Writers Kerry Cavanaugh, Helen Gao and Lisa Sodders contributed to this report.

Dana Bartholomew, (818) 713-3730

dana.bartholomew(at)dailynews.com

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THE RECALL PROCESS

SOURCE: Daily News research
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Oct 8, 2003
Words:824
Previous Article:DISJOINTED STRATEGIES COST RACE.
Next Article:PROPOSITION 54: RACIAL DATA MEASURE DEFEATED.


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