By Mary O’KEEFE
Glendale residents are going to the polls on Tuesday and the city clerk’s office is doing all it can to make it easier for them to cast their ballots.
Residents who are eligible to vote can do so either by mail, at their polling place or walk into the Election Center and get a vote-by-mail ballot to mail or turn in at the Center.
“Anyone who wishes to vote prior to Election Day can come to the [Election Center], sign a form and receive a vote-by-mail. They can vote there and then or take it home and mail it,” said Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian, Glendale city clerk.
The Election Center is at 131 N. Isabel St. at the Glendale Police Station, in what is normally the GPD community room, but is being transformed during election season. The Center is open now and will be over the weekend, April 1-2, for anyone who would like to vote early.
“Our voter participation numbers are low,” Kassakhian added.
He is hoping by giving voters more choices on where and when they can vote participation in the process will increase. In addition, GlendaleVotes.org can guide voters on everything from identifying their polling place to providing information on candidates.
In the past three Glendale Municipal Election, Whiting Woods had the highest participation with an average of 40% of voters casting a ballot; however, the average across Glendale is closer to 26%.
Voter participation numbers provided by Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., gives an unfortunate picture of low voter turnout in several areas.
Below the average voter participations from 2011, 2013 and 2015 Municipal Elections from the Crescenta Valley/Glendale annex areas:
Whiting Woods 40%
Verdugo Mountains 30%
Montrose Verdugo City 21%
Sparr Heights 33%
Montecito Park 31%
San Gabriel Mountains 34%
Crescenta Highlands 25%
Grant Michals and Rick Dinger are candidates from the CV area and both are hoping for a large voter turnout, especially from the Crescenta Valley area.
“CV could make a big difference in the election,” Dinger said.
It is rare to have candidates from the CV area running for Glendale City Council. Both candidates hope that participation in the election process increases across all of Glendale, but especially from the CV area now that there are local candidates running.
Kassakhian said he hopes for an increase in participation throughout the city and that the new options for voting early will help that increase.
The Los Angeles County Voter Registrar’s Office has worked to increase voter participation as well by offering early voting options. Kassakhian has noticed the popularity of those programs and hopes Glendale voters will respond to the new choices.
“So if you are taking your child to soccer practice or are out doing errands you can come [by] and take 10 minutes to vote,” he said. “This [option] is something I have been excited about doing. I wish we would have been ready to do this 12 years ago … I am glad that we can do it now.”
Another change this election cycle is it is the first time that elections will not be “at-large” for the Glendale Community College and Glendale Unified School boards. This year begins the district specific elections, meaning voting by district; the La Crescenta area seat is not up for election this year.
“There are 11 different ballots in this election,” Kassakhian said. “The one place where we have all the ballots is at the Election Center. Those who have a question about their ballot can come here.”
California law has recently changed regarding ballots. The City Clerk’s office must accept vote-by-mail ballots up to three days after the election as long as those ballots are postmarked by Election Day, April 4.
Kassakhian added there is another law that went into effect that requires the Clerk’s office to accept ballots up to eight days after the election if there are issues with those ballots such as if the signature does not match on a provisional ballot. The Clerk’s office will send voters a notice in the mail that there is an issue with their ballot and will ask them to come to Election Center to correct the problem.
“We are sending letters out now. We have received 8,000 to 9,000 ballots right now and we are verifying those signatures. Those we find with a discrepancy we send off a letter,” he added.
The Election Center, 131 North Isabel Street is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. For more information visit GlendaleVotes.org
For information on voter participation in other areas of Glendale go to www.cvweekly.com to Voter Participation