I. In Focus This Week
Polling Place Profile
Looffs Lite-A-Line in Long Beach, California
By M. Mindy Moretti
There are unique polling places throughout the country. From a tractor bar in Iowa to a cemetery in Alabama, elections officials nationwide don’t just rely on schools and churches for polling places. Nowhere is that more the case than in California.
The Long Beach City Clerk’s office recently had to find a new polling place and came up with one of the state’s more unique sites — Looffs Lite-A-Line, a type of ping pong bingo which can be played for a $1.25 a game. Winning jackpots range from $15 to $500.
“The April 10th, 2018 Primary Nominating Election was the first time Looff’s Casino Game of Skill was used as a polling place,” explained Tamela Austin, a specialist in the clerk’s office. “This site served as a great location to the voters in the district and this site was also used again in the June 5th, 2018 General Municipal Election.”
According to Austin, after the owners of the old polling site informed the city that the location could not host in 2018, polling place recruitment staff scouted the area where the previous polling site had been. They walked and drove around the vicinity and asked businesses if they’d be interested in serving as a location.
“When a polling location is lost or not available for an upcoming election, it can become extremely challenging in finding a replacement site to accommodate voters,” Austin said. “When our staff approached Looff’’s Casino they didn’t require a lot of convincing. They were very open to hosting and easy to work with in getting us everything we needed to ensure a successful election day at this location.”
Austin said Samantha Spearman, owner of Looffs, was very accommodating and allowed elections officials to set up in an area that could easily accommodate the foot traffic and wheelchairs if necessary.
“When they came and asked, I didn’t even think about it,” Spearman told The Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Not everyone is always happy about change, but Austin said although there were no staff from the city clerk’s office on site during the elections, they did not receive any negative feedback about the new polling location either from poll workers or voters.
“This polling location was not very busy on election day, but offered voters a place to vote less than a mile away from their previous polling location, making it an easy transition for voters,” Austin said.
For Spearman, what makes the idea of using Looff’s so special to her is that her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother had all served as poll workers in Long Beach. Her great-grandmother had even been a part of the suffrage movement before becoming a poll worker.
“It was like it was meant to be,” said told the Press-Telegram.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, it’s business as usual at Looff’s on election day, so while people were taking a chance with candidates up and down the ballot, customers at Loof’s were taking a chance of their own.
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