The incoming neighborhood council should drastically reform this election process if grass roots democracy is to flourish and thrive!
By Nick Antonicello
Why is it easier for a registered voter here in Venice to vote for mayor, governor, congress or president; but when it comes to voting in a local neighborhood council election you find yourself jumping through proverbial bureaucratic hoops to qualify and cast a vote?
I’ve been a registered voter here in Venice since 1993 and at the same address for 30 years. The LA City Clerk’s Office knows who I am and why am I compelled to request a ballot and prove eligibility when I can cast my vote in any other normal election at my local voting precinct where I’m rarely asked to even provide identification?
Why is it so easy to vote in an election to elect the President of the United States, but not the President of the VNC?
While COVID-19 has certainly challenged the concept of voting in-person and voting-by-mail has gained traction for many, isn’t the purpose of a local community election like the neighborhood council to maximize participation and turnout?
Two years ago roughly 2,000 Venetians casted ballots in a community that has a population of well over 40,000 residents as of 2018 according to local census numbers.
Based on this miserable rate of participation, what will this new board do to increase the rate of participation, transparency and involvement?
And why is the LA City Clerk enabling and promoting a process that does not maximize voter participation?
And why doesn’t the LA City Clerk just mail a ballot to every registered voter and those who identify themselves as stakeholders and not residents be the appropriate individuals that apply for a ballot?
If neighborhood council elections across LA turned out tens of thousands of voters versus just hundreds, you think LA city and elected officials would take the NC system seriously?
For the neighborhood council process should become a reflection of the community. A community that is engaged and participating in this committee system process.
Here in Venice, those promoting the elections scheduled for March 26th boast that 53 candidates have filed to run.
What they don’t tell you is that 37 are running for the same position, that being community officer and as a stakeholder, you can only get to select one!
That means with 21 voting members of which 13 are community officers, democracy is being denied as those voting are not even electing a majority of this new board!
Who does this make sense too?
If this isn’t an obvious violation of “one-man, one-vote,” what is?
For the current process of getting elected as a community officer is the equivalent of a high school student council race, get your friends to vote for you and hope for the best as some individuals based on turnout will be elected with as little as 50 to 75 votes!
Democracy in action or democracy denied?
Secondly, candidates are asked to fend for themselves as getting someone a ballot is more difficult than getting someone to vote.
In 2021 several locals complained to me they never even received a ballot, but if you identify as homeless in Venice, and have no verifying credentials, that vote is counted?
The absurdity of the entire process and those clinging to these anachronistic voting ways are almost as silly as a printed Voter Guide, that does not guarantee it reaches every qualified stakeholder here in Venice. I have never received this mailing ever, despite living at the same address for decades and being an active participant in the community and working as a longtime volunteer of the VNC.
37 Candidates for the same office in which you can only cast a single vote (1) for one is silly and needs to be changed.
There isn’t an election selection process this disturbing anywhere in LA that is coddled, enabled and defended like the one here in Venice by those who are not even members of the VNC, but unelected bureaucrats clinging to a status quo that undermines the whole purpose of these community boards.
Elections need to be about the issues Venetians really care about. Not bureaucratic mazes to ballot access or woefully inept voting procedures that deny voters the ability to sit an entire board.
Hopefully a new board and a commitment to revising the current BY-LAWS and Standing Rules will occur to reflect a more transparent and democratic process moving forward.
Nick Antonicello is a thirty-year resident of Venice and a member of the Oceanfront and Outreach Committees of the VNC. Have a take or a tip about Venice? Contact Antonicello at email@example.com.