What if the city of Los Angeles had an election and no one showed up?
As of Tuesday morning, about 15% of vote-by-mail ballots had been returned to the Los Angeles city clerk’s office. The office sent 723,727 ballots to absentee voters and had received back 108,938, said Julio C. Esperias Jr. with the city clerk’s office. Additional turnout numbers won’t be released until 8:30 p.m. after the polls close.
Voter turnout in Los Angeles municipal elections is notoriously low, with 14% of registered voters casting ballots in 2011 and 11% in 2007. Interest in this cycle of elections is particularly low because there are no citywide races on the ballot.
By 10:30 a.m., "maybe 70" people had showed up to vote at the Castle Argyle Apartments in Hollywood, said poll worker Diz McNally.
Worried that people would stay away if they found parking challenging, she said she stood on the street offering to watch voters' cars while they went in to do their civic duty.
"I just wish a lot of people voted," said McNally, who had her long nails done with special sparkles for the occasion. "I don't care who you vote for. Show up. Dress up. Meet somebody. You never know, there might be a cute guy, a cute girl you meet. Just come."
Lillian Little, 94, did -- even though it wasn't easy for her. She's blind. She uses a walker to get around. But Little, who has lived in Hollywood since 1959 and is old enough to have voted for Franklin Roosevelt, said she had never missed an election.
"Never! I am a good citizen," she said. And as for those who don't vote, she added: "I'd like to hit them over the head because they are useless and not good citizens. This is what makes a good citizen -- not hopping up and down and yelling and hollering and all that horse manure."
At a polling place near MacArthur Park only 10 people had shown up to vote by 9:30 a.m., poll workers said.
One poll worker at the Frida Kahlo Theater on West 4th Street who did not give his name because he said he was not authorized to speak to the media said there appeared to be many fewer people voting this year compared with the November 2014 state election.
"There were more items on the ballot last year," he said. "Tell your friends to come and vote!"
Polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday for city council and school board elections in Los Angeles and 15 other municipalities across the region. Polls will remain open until 8 p.m.
Voters in Los Angeles also will decide whether to approve Charter Amendments 1 and 2, which would shift city elections from odd- to even-numbered years so they coincide with state and national races with the aim of boosting voter turnout.
Seven L.A. City Council seats will be decided and voters will make choices for school board and community college district seats.
Elections are also being held in Monterey Park, Manhattan Beach, West Hollywood, South Gate, Redondo Beach, the City of Commerce, La Verne, Rolling Hills, Bell, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Azusa, San Fernando, San Gabriel and La Habra Heights.
Los Angeles voters unsure of their polling place can call (888) 873-1000 or (213) 978-0444 or check online. Vote-by-mail ballots can be dropped off at polling places until they close.
Staff writer Catherine Saillant and Kate Linthicum contributed to this report.