Ron Don’s Blog Primary Election
Our Primary Election Hits Home
An extremely important race is being held this June. It’s not the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, and it isn’t Camp Pendleton’s World Famous Mud Run series.
The race that’ll affect lives for years to come: The June 5 primary election.
I won’t tell you to vote for a particular candidate … but I will implore that you vote. Somewhere. Anywhere that’s been designated as a polling station — even if it’s in somebody’s house.
Quick history: I’ve voted in a diverse collection of San Diego buildings. There was an apartment complex, the homeless shelter, a church, and one year I cast my ballot floating on the U.S.S. Berkeley, a steam ferryboat that’s part of downtown’s Maritime Museum.
This year, I’m slated to vote in a Holiday Inn Express (if you believe the company’s TV ad campaign, you could infer that voting there will make me feel smart).
Some of you — in fact 20.4 percent of you — will be called upon to vote in a private home. The County of San Diego needs 1,432 polling sites this year, and there are never enough public facilities available.
“We try to use public buildings like schools, rec centers, etc., but inevitably we have to rely on private residences,” says Sirenia Jimenez, election processing supervisor for the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.
Most homeowners utilize the garage, but Jimenez remembers at least one family opening up the living room. (Here’s your ballot, sir. Please take a seat in the recliner. Lemonade?)
To house the democratic process, the area in your home must include 300 square feet — enough for voting booths, a table for the clerks and a touch-screen kiosk.
You get paid $50 to be a home polling station; $20 more if you can provide a table and chairs. Poll attendants get $60 to $150 for the day (bilingual workers get paid more).
Note: The ability to be a residential polling station hinges on meeting strict Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Yes, you should be prepared to move the boat out of the driveway.
Jimenez vaguely recalls a year when model homes in a construction development were turned into a voting site. She does not remember anyone ever volunteering a mansion, beachfront cottage or a condo penthouse.
But given the wide range of poll stations I’ve voted in, I won’t be surprised some election year when I’m called on to cast my ballot poolside, inside somebody’s guest cabana.
Wherever the designated location, I’ll be there to vote. I’m dutifully re-inspired by Jimenez’ recollection of a guy who called two days before an election to say his dad, who’d volunteered the house, had died. The son said his father would have wanted the house to stay a poll station. So it did.
Yes, democracy may have its failings, but the spirit still lives.