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A Bad Day for Democracy

The heavy double doors to Los Feliz‘s Parish Hall -- a polling place in Tuesday’s City Council election -- were wide open, but hardly anyone was inside. Election volunteers Antonia Uzan and Cathy Giangreco sat alone in the auditorium, hunkered over a 4-inch black-and-white TV with scratchy reception, awaiting voters. But few came. In the wake of a national disaster that‘s generated phrases such as ”the most tragic hour in American history“ and ”a second Pearl Harbor,“ many residents of the 4th District stayed home instead of voting, presumably glued to their TV sets.

Uzan, who’s been working L.A. elections for 13 years, said this is the lowest turnout she can remember -- just 92 people instead of the several hundred that usually vote at the church. She attributed it directly to the terrorist attacks, noting that voters trickled in one at a time and were visibly disturbed. ”People have been irritable, upset. I can understand -- they‘re angry,“ she said. ”Everyone who comes in comments, ’What kind of security do we have? How could this happen?‘“

When I left Parish Hall at 5 p.m., the four cardboard voting booths were still empty. Outside, a small U.S. flag hung near the entrance, secured with torn scraps of masking tape. ”This will be the lowest turnout we’ve ever seen,“ Uzan said. ”It‘s a strange reaction. When you’re upset about your country, you want to do something, show you‘re a citizen. But still, they don’t come.“

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