Our local neighborhood council elections are coming up on March 16. In the last election, voting was held in person. But this year, due to the pandemic, all voting is vote-by-mail, which should make it easier for everyone to vote, once you get a ballot.
Voting in the neighborhood council elections are complicated under normal circumstances because voters have to be qualified to vote to avoid non-residents from voting in elections that are just for the local community. But this year, as it has with everything else, the pandemic is making voting even harder. The city has eliminated in-person voting and everything has to be done online or by mail. But don’t let the extra hassle of voting this year keep you from participating in this important form of local governance. You voice matters and your vote can make a difference. We have already heard of confusion and delays so take a moment today and request your ballot. The deadline to request your ballot is March 9.
Ok, now that you are convinced, read on for instructions!
First, Who Can Vote?
Everyone who will be 18 years of age by March 16 and lives, works, or owns property in the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council area is eligible to vote. This year will require a bit of effort to get a ballot and vote because there is no in-person voting due to the pandemic. But don’t let that keep you from voting!
The Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council has 15 geographic area representatives, one At Large representative, and five special interest seats representing Renters, Businesses, Non-Profit, Religous, and Education organizations.
If you live, work or own property in one of the 15 geographic regions (shown below), you are eligible to vote for that geographic representative PLUS one of the other six representatives.
If you do not live, work, or own property in one of the geographic areas, but are affiliated with a business, non-profit, religious, or educational organization within GWNC boundaries (e.g. if you are a member of a church within GWNC boundaries, a member or volunteer with a local non-profit, or are a parent at a school within GWNC boundaries), you are not eligible to vote for the geographic representatives…but you are still eligible to vote for the representative in your organizational category (e.g. religion, non-profit, business or education), OR for the At Large representative.
And if you don’t meet either of the two qualifications above, but can declare any other sort of connection to the GWNC area, you would still be eligible to to vote for the At Large seat.
If you are in the first category above – someone eligible to vote for both a geographic representative and one of the other six seats – it’s very important to note that when you register and request your ballot, you MUST request ballots for BOTH of the races you will be voting in (e.g. your geographic area + a special interest seat, or your geographic area + the at large race). If you only request one ballot (whether for a geographic seat, a special interest seat or the at large race), you will only be able to vote in that one race.
Finally, if you have any questions about GWNC ballots and voting, or about the election in general, see https://greaterwilshire.org/2021-elections/ or contact the GWNC Election Committee Chair, Brian Curran, at [email protected].
Ok, Now That You Can Vote – How Do You Get a Ballot?
To vote, residents must request a vote-by-mail ballot by March 9 from the LA City Clerk’s office. Once requested, the ballot will be sent to you via paper mail. You can request your ballot onlinen or you can also print out a paper registration/ballot request form at https://clerk.lacity.org/sites/g/files/wph606/f/2021_VBM_Application_ENG.pdf. That form must then be filled out and sent to the city clerk’s office via USPS paper mail to officially request your ballot(s). Once you receive your ballot(s) from the city, it/they must be returned to the city via USPS, postmarked between February 16 and March 16 (the official election day).
To Request a Ballot Online Visit https://clerk.lacity.org/elections/neighborhood-council-election.
Here’s a screen-by-screen guide showing how I registered to vote on Wednesday, so you know what to expect from the online registration process.
More Background information on the GWNC
The GWNC is the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, one of 95 such grass-roots neighborhood organizations throughout the city, founded to help represent neighborhood interests (including, but not limited to, land use and transportation issues) to our city council and other city agencies. Neighborhood Councils also sponsor and promote a wide range of neighborhood improvement projects. For example, the GWNC has supported landscaping projects at John Burroughs, Wilshire Park, Frances Blend, Los Angeles High School and Wilshire Crest Elementary Schools, and historic preservation efforts in several neighborhoods. To learn more about the neighborhood council system, please visit the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment’s website.
The Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council has a 21-member board of directors, which is elected every two years by area stakeholders. 15 of the seats represent individual geographic areas within the larger Greater Wilshire neighborhood; five seats represent special interest groups such as Renters or Business, Religious, Educational and Other Non-Profit organizations. There is also one At Large seat.
Finally, for even more information about voting in this year’s GWNC elections, the GWNC is holding a Q&A session TODAY – Saturday, February 27, at 1 p.m., via Zoom. Join the meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84137601501 any time during the 90-minute duration to ask questions about how to get your ballot, how to vote, and when and how to return your completed ballot. You can also connect via phone at (669) 900-6833 (San Jose) or (888) 475-4499 (Toll Free) – just enter webinar ID 841 3760 1501, then press #. And finally, a video tutorial and other links are also available at https://greaterwilshire.org/election/.
Very good reminder and clear instructions. We will be voting in the local elections for the first time.