Friday, 27 Nov 2020

Election Day in California

Good Election Day morning.

The sun was shining through a layer of haze on Monday afternoon as Dodgers fans, sporting their jerseys and caps, streamed into the upper deck of the stadium. Oldies blared from an unseen speaker, workers barked out directions and cheers intermittently erupted from inside.

Walking toward the stadium gates was a rare moment of near-normalcy — although, like everything these days, it wasn’t.

Everyone I saw wore a mask. Many of those masks were Dodger blue and emblazoned with the words “World Champions,” in honor of the team’s first World Series win in more than three decades, which took place last week — in Arlington, Texas.

The surrounding parking lot has in recent months been the county’s biggest coronavirus testing site, where thousands of Angelenos have been instructed by the mayor, projected on giant screens, to swab their mouths in their cars.

And the bursts of applause weren’t related to anything happening on the empty field, of course. Still, they marked something pretty momentous: First-time voters successfully casting their ballots.

One of those first-time voters was Abraham Pacheco, 19, a Cal State Northridge student who was born and raised nearby.

He said he preregistered to vote when he was 17.

“I saw it as a responsibility,” he said, “especially coming from a Hispanic family.”

Mr. Pacheco said he’d been paying attention to issues like Proposition 22 — he voted no — and was happy to make his voice heard.

[See The Times’s full voter guide for Californians, with information about how, when and where to cast your ballot. | Leer en español.]

But he said it was particularly exciting to vote at the stadium with his father and grandfather, the latter of whom was decked out in a Dodgers shirt, mask and hat. He’d played on the field as a high schooler and celebrated the World Series win.

“Since birth, I’ve been a huge Dodgers fan,” he said.

For Helena Herrera, 19, who came to the stadium to vote for the first time with her mother and younger sister, casting a ballot for her future was an imperative. The idea of young people sitting out the election, as they have tended to historically, was a motivator.

“Things are going to start affecting us,” she said.

Ms. Herrera said that she didn’t closely follow the state ballot propositions — although she voted on some based on other supporters. The most pressing issue in her eyes was voting out the president, which she said would allow the country to “go back to the humanity we once knew.”

The pandemic had also affected her and her family. Ms. Herrera started college at San Jose State University, but with most in-person classes canceled, she’d opted to attend community college instead.

Her mother, Bebe Herrera, 46, said she also voted for Joseph R. Biden Jr., even though he wasn’t her first choice for the Democratic nomination. She said she valued the stability she believed a Biden administration would bring.

More important, she said, she wanted to encourage her children to be engaged.

“I wanted her to feel like she exercised her voice,” she said, nodding at her daughter. “If she doesn’t get out there and change it, it won’t change.”

That the family had cast their ballots at Dodger Stadium just made the experience more meaningful.

[Read about how millions of Californians have voted already, fueling record turnout.]

Elsewhere in Los Angeles and in other cities, storefronts were being boarded up and police officers were preparing for postelection unrest.

But in Chavez Ravine, at about 3:15 p.m. Monday, on the eve of one of the most consuming elections of our lives, in the midst of a pandemic that will define a generation, voters, families and poll workers were cheerful — hopeful, even.

They took selfies with their specially designed “I voted” stickers and picked up free meals from a World Central Kitchen truck parked out front, while volunteers from the mutual aid group Hydrate LA offered fruit, bags of chips, water and pouches of Capri Sun.

Dehava McLaurin, 54, from Long Beach, called out to voters as they headed up the steps: “Right this way! Come on up to vote!”

Mr. McLaurin said he’d signed up to help at the polls because he knew the pandemic was preventing many people who normally volunteer from showing up.

“Who wouldn’t want to be here? It’s so beautiful,” he said. “And I’m being of service.”

(This article is part of the California Today newsletter. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox.)

More election coverage

Beginning on Monday and through the conclusion of the U.S. election, The Times’s coverage of the races is available without a subscription at

Here’s our guide to the key races in California, including ballot propositions, congressional races and the fight to become Los Angeles’s next district attorney. [The New York Times]

Read about all of California’s ballot propositions, including who’s putting money behind which side. [CalMatters | The Los Angeles Times | SFGate | KQED | Official voter information guide]

And here’s more information on California’s Senate, congressional and Assembly races. [CalMatters]

Spending on this year’s ballot measures has been astronomical and record-breaking. But these campaigns always been expensive. See how the spending has shifted. [The Los Angeles Times]

And here are races worth paying attention to across the country that also do not involve President Trump or Mr. Biden. [The New York Times]

Local election officials said they’ve been deluged with waves of misinformation. [The New York Times]

Here’s what to expect from the major social media networks to fight misinformation today. [The New York Times]

A Sutter County judge ruled that Gov. Gavin Newsom overstepped his authority in an executive order directing county officials how to run the election. But the ruling, which was seen as a win for Californians bridling against pandemic restrictions, won’t actually affect the election. [The Sacramento Bee]

If you missed it, here’s what Alex Padilla, California’s top election official, wants you to know about voting in person. [The New York Times]

And finally …

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again: Do not expect conclusive results on election night, especially not in California, where postmarked ballots can arrive as late as Nov. 20.

So settle in — or camp out, if that’s what you’re into, preferably with no more than two other households — and try to get some rest, if you can. (Here’s some help with that.)

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: [email protected]. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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