On Saturday I was honored to be featured in Patt Morrison's column in the Los Angeles Times. Excerpts are below.
What's a nice girl like you doing in a mess like this?
I love elections; I grew up with elections. My dad ran for Culver City City Council when I was 7. Election night, we had a big party and my dad was the underdog and someone was on the phone getting the numbers and I [wrote] the numbers on the chalkboard. To me, politics has been about community service.
You also learned about the political version of trick or treat.
Someone showed up at the door with a $500 [campaign contribution] check. For a Culver City election, that was a lot of money. My dad sent him away. He said: "I don't know that man, I don't want to know him and I don't want him to think I owe him anything." My first lesson in how money in politics works!
We have former Secretary of State March Fong Eu to thank for banning pay toilets -- and for the California Voter Foundation?
[It was] an offshoot of the secretary of state's office, to raise charitable funds for extra voter outreach. By 1993, it was [defunct], out of compliance with various tax filings. In college I'd worked for Gary K. Hart when he ran for Congress. It was grueling: high stakes, consultants, opposition research -- that stuff is really unpleasant. I wanted to be for all the voters, not just some of the voters. So this opportunity to restart the California Voter Foundation fell into my lap.
Even voter registration has become politicized. Someone on a right-wing website wrote that it is "profoundly
un-American'' to register welfare recipients to vote.
It's unfortunate. In a lot of the world you're automatically [registered] when you become 18 and you're a citizen. Here we have this extra hurdle.
Across the country, voting rights are not shared among all Americans. In California there's a variety of practices between the counties, an unevenness. That's a big problem.
You almost weren't allowed to vote in 2008.
They told me my polling place had moved. I got my sample ballot and went back and said, "This is my polling place." They were turning other people away.
Elections are run as if they're one-day sales. We run polling places for 12, 14 hours, staffed by people with very little training working very long hours on a job they only do once or twice a year. We should have people vote over several days in an environment staffed by well-trained people. I think about elections year-round; most people only think about them for maybe two months. It's hard to sustain the momentum to implement election reform.
continued at www.latimes.com