Debating L.A. polling locations: Magic Citadel or Dodger Stadium?


I haven’t voted but. I’ve to confess, I’m nonetheless undecided.

Not about how I’ll vote on this pivotal election however about the place I’ll vote, and concerning the butterfly impact that my one tiny selection may probably have on the result.

Wouldn’t it be a house run if I voted looking out over the diamond from the highest deck of Dodger Stadium? Wouldn’t it do the trick if I put my playing cards on the desk on the Magic Citadel?

Ought to I vote with the secure way forward for this metropolis I really like foremost in my thoughts by performing my sacred civic responsibility at certainly one of these sacred spots? Or perhaps one other is likely to be extra auspicious. The Hollywood Bowl? Union Station? The Palladium?

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla checks out a voting booth on display at Dodger Stadium.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla checks out a voting sales space on show throughout a tour of the Dodger Stadium Vote Heart.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Instances)

I may go farther afield and rise up in protection of our stalwart service ladies and men by voting on the Battle Memorial Constructing in South Pasadena.

I may even decide to ferry throughout the blue Pacific to do the deed within the ballroom of the Catalina On line casino. Would that strike a useful be aware of hope, to vote the place others have jitterbugged and foxtrotted many a darkish night time away?

These of us who reside in Los Angeles County can now vote at any of the county’s vote centers. Ultimately test, there have been 765 of them. Some might be open beginning Oct. 24, most beginning Oct. 30. And amongst them — past the same old faculties and recreation and neighborhood facilities — are lots of our area’s most beloved gathering websites, the place no gathering currently has been attainable.

Had we had no pandemic, Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre would have been packed now, within the thick of a future of “Hamilton.” However the theater needed to shut eight hours earlier than the primary efficiency of the present’s second keep in our metropolis, mentioned its normal supervisor, Jeff Loeb. Wanting to do some civic good, the Pantages has been utilizing its foyer for month-to-month blood drives. Loeb provided it up as a vote heart after somebody on a nationwide theater process power he’s on mentioned it might be nice if as many theaters as attainable nationwide turned polling locations.

The Pantages perfectly fit the bill when the county was scrambling for areas sufficiently big to be secure in the course of a well being disaster for in-person voting.

“I wish to say that since we are able to’t have fun the founding of our democracy on stage, we’re fortunate to have the ability to really assist democracy via voting in our foyer,” Loeb informed me.

“And we’d wish to suppose that our grand foyer will present one of the vital beautiful backdrops in all of L.A. County for folks to train their civic responsibility.”

The Pantages is a five-minute stroll from my home. And with its chandeliers and its 65-foot-high ceilings, it definitely affords a unprecedented improve from the drab retirement-home rec room the place I used to should go on election day, again when in-person voting occurred on someday solely and at one assigned web site per voter.

I’m hardly alone in being obsessive currently about ensuring my vote counts — given the each day threats being made to the sanctity of the method and a collective dread of what would occur if the result of our presidential election is murky or unaccepted by one facet or leads some to rage and violence.

People stand outside the Pantages Theatre

Folks arrive for the preview efficiency of “Hamilton” on the Pantages Theatre on Aug. 11, 2017.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Instances)

We’re a lot luckier in our voting choices than many a state. Since all 21 million of us Californians obtained ballots within the mail, I don’t actually should go to any vote heart in any respect.

Nonetheless, I’m nervous, given all of the latest mucking about with the U.S. Postal Service, about placing my poll, even early, in a mailbox. At first, I believed I’d as an alternative slip it within the slot of a drop field — not any outdated field somebody places outdoors someplace with an indication taped on the entrance however certainly one of the 400 bolted-down official ones that may be discovered, amongst different locations, outdoors all of our libraries, in lots of our parks and at some transit stations (together with the Gold Line station at Mariachi Plaza, maybe a very good place to forged a vote in favor of humane immigration insurance policies).

The drop containers are emptied recurrently by election staff. And we are able to all observe our ballots, whether or not mailed or dropped off, by signing up online via the secretary of state’s workplace.

Lots of people are taking selfies on the drop containers. I might have been certainly one of them too by now — earlier than I discovered about different selections.

A couple in a wide-open room with wood floors and high beamed ceilings

The Mountain Mermaid’s Invoice Buerge and Gail McDonald-Tune will host an L.A. County polling place within the nice room of the 7,000-square-foot dwelling.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Instances)

Earlier than I discovered, as an illustration, that I may drive out to Topanga and vote at a spot referred to as the Mountain Mermaid, whose wealthy historical past, recounted to me by its proprietor Invoice Buerge, may cowl numerous totally different voting moods. Buerge informed me that the 1930 constructing began life as a rustic membership however later turned certainly one of gangster Mickey Cohen’s playing dens (prostitutes upstairs, slot machines and gaming tables within the basement) after which a homosexual bar referred to as the Canyon Membership, run by an ex-vice cop. Males may gradual dance at that bar at a time when doing so may result in arrests — however Black folks apparently weren’t welcome, Buerge mentioned.

The constructing was virtually falling in on itself when he purchased it 30 years in the past, with horse manure on the ground and nearly no plaster on the partitions, he informed me. “Folks have been afraid to be in there. The slightest tremor would have taken it down.”

The Mountain Mermaid's Bill Buerge looks at a monarch butterfly in his butterfly house.

The Mountain Mermaid’s Invoice Buerge seems to be at a monarch butterfly in his butterfly home in Topanga Canyon. Buerge could supply excursions of the butterfly home for voters.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Instances)

Buerge turned it right into a pleasant, all-welcoming place, widespread for filming and weddings and in a single day stays, with a lush backyard stuffed with native crops and fountains that could be a waystation for monarch butterflies and a wildlife habitat licensed by the Nationwide Wildlife Federation. Those that come there, he mentioned, will vote within the Mermaid’s nice room, with hardwood flooring, an enormous hearth, a grand staircase and arched home windows looking on greenery and mountains.

As they do, they could consider the constructing’s historical past and the necessity to combat for justice for all. Or they could simply consider rolling the cube and putting a wager the place a number of bets have been positioned. Or they could give attention to defending the surroundings. He’ll even open his butterfly home, he mentioned, for post-voting enjoyment.

Buerge informed me he’s going to want to maneuver a good quantity of furnishings to get the place prepared for voters — numerous chairs and antiques, a Monterey desk and one other desk transformed from a 1920s hydraulic hospital gurney. However “I’m very pleased to make the contribution,” he mentioned.

Once I requested him what this election meant to him, he mentioned, “Every little thing. It’s large. I believe the way forward for American democracy is at stake.”

 Interior of the Magic Castle in Hollywood.

Angelenos will be capable to forged votes this 12 months from the Magic Citadel in Hollywood.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Instances)

I fear about that myself today — which led me to a different presumably promising place to vote: the Magic Castle, a lot nearer to my dwelling.

Joe Furlow, normal supervisor of the Academy of Magical Arts, the affiliation to which all of the membership’s members belong, tried to tamp down my expectations. “There’s not going to be any magic, you understand,” he mentioned. “It’s only a polling place.” And voters who come received’t be capable to enter via the “Open Sesame” door or stroll previous the Palace of Thriller or the Parlor of Prestidigitation.

Nonetheless, within the fortress’s Interior Circle, which they’ll enter via a facet door, they’ll see display-case homages to famed magicians: Mark Wilson and his assistant, spouse Nani Darnell, who launched a nationwide tv viewers to magic with “The Magic Land of Allakazam,” and Cardini, “in all probability the world’s greatest card manipulator of his time.”

Furlow informed me that the membership, which within the pandemic went from 198 staff to 9, and now could be internet hosting digital magic reveals and providing its beef Wellington and prime rib to go, wished to do proper by Hollywood and town and so gladly agreed to be a vote heart. Just like the blood drives it has additionally been internet hosting, it wasn’t about something greater than doing the correct factor. Nonetheless, he’ll be thrilled, he mentioned, if folks come out to vote in an effort to see contained in the fortress. “I believe all of the voters are going to create the actual magic this 12 months.”

Loeb from the Pantages expressed a lot the identical sentiment — and mentioned he thought utilizing landmark places within the metropolis would assist.

“There’s an vitality, I believe, in any of those older areas — be it the Magic Citadel, be it the Palladium, be it Dodger Stadium, be it the Hollywood Bowl — the place 1000’s of individuals have gathered to witness nice sporting occasions, nice concert events, nice theater, and the vitality that accompanies these moments nonetheless lingers in all of these areas,” he informed me.

Proper now that’s becoming, he mentioned. “That is the nationwide stage. You’re not voting in your neighbor’s storage.”

Oh and yet another factor he informed me, which can make me head to the theater. Those that do will get a particular “I voted” sticker, paying homage to the present that may’t be proven there proper now.

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