Big election fuels surge in voter turnout

- Long lines were the order of the day at some polling places across Los Angeles County on Tuesday as residents flocked to the ballot box to cast their votes in a high-interest mid-term election that could sway the balance of power in Washington.

As of late morning, voter turnout at the polls was unofficially around 8 percent, based on a small sampling of activity at some precincts, according to Mike Sanchez, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's Office.

Sanchez stressed the number is an unofficial estimate, but said the figure is roughly on par with the November 2014 mid-term election.

But voting has been brisk for weeks leading up to Election Day. Sanchez said 15,810 people voted during two weekends of early voting at registrar's offices across the county. The office has also already received about 763,000 vote-by-mail ballots, and mail ballots will continue to be accepted through Friday, as long as they are postmarked by Tuesday.

By comparison, 665,075 voters cast mail ballots during the June primary election. Overall turnout in June was 29 percent in Los Angeles County.

County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said during a televised interview Sunday that while he is hesitant to predict turnout, he wouldn't be surprised to see overall turnout reach as high as 60 percent in Tuesday's election -- a number that would rival but fall short of the November 2016 presidential election, when 69 percent of Los Angeles County voters cast ballots.

Overall voter turnout in the November 2014 mid-term election was 33 percent in the county.

Sanchez said that while some minor issues were reported at some precincts Tuesday, there was so far "nothing out of the ordinary" impacting the election. He said some ballot readers faltered at select polling places, which is a common issue due to the age of the equipment. But he said replacement equipment was taken to affected precincts.

As of early afternoon, it has been "a very smooth election day," Sanchez said.

There were sporadic reports of other minor glitches. Some voters at a precinct in Santa Monica had to cast provisional ballots Tuesday morning because poll workers did not have the official copy of the voter roll, but that list was received by midday and normal voting resumed.

There were also some reports of faulty machines at a precinct in Pasadena. Some voters reported on social media that some precincts were understaffed, leading to longer-than-expected waits.

One poll volunteer at Mar Vista fire station brought her 10-year-old daughter to help. The young girl, Allon Kouture, told a reporter she was there to help voters "make sure their vote counts," as she flipped through the pages of a voting roll to help her mom find voters' names.

As a short line formed outside the fire station around 5 p.m. and a few voters stood waiting for a booth to become available, Allon's mom hustled in and out, working hard to move residents efficiently through the process.

Her daughter said she was inspired by her mom.

"I look up to her because I think if she can do good things, I can do them too," Allon said.

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