Block Those Voters!

Ballot Battles, Beggars, and Bummers

VANISHING BREED: The Fiesta pancake breakfast, sponsored by Kiwanis of Santa Barbara for the past 65
years, says farewell this year. Here, Rep. Lois Capps sends a hotcake sailing at the feast in 2003.
Paul Wellman (file)

RUSH TO VOTE? Years ago, when I was working for a small Orange County newspaper, the publisher hurried to my desk, warning of a supposed “bracero rush” on the polls coming that very day.

He’d apparently been alerted that temporary field workers imported from Mexico under the bracero program were planning to mass at the town’s polling place and vote.

Barney Brantingham

I had great doubts about this. The young Mexican workers had at that point demonstrated zero interest in our election and in any case were ineligible to cast a ballot even if they wanted to. But the likelihood of this rumor had apparently escaped the publisher’s attention. But who can account for political paranoia of those days, or these?

So, late afternoon found me in front of a home where voting was to take place, camera at hand. It was quiet, very quiet. A few of the locals came to cast ballots. No one else was on the street, least of all a band of farmworkers shouting slogans, waving signs, and demanding to vote.

Finally, the polling place closed. There had been no “bracero rush.” I went home to my wife and soon after quit the paper and went to work at the Santa Barbara News-Press.

SMALL MINDS: But elsewhere in the Land of the Free, at least three dozen states with Republican legislatures have passed so-called voter-suppression laws aimed at making it hard to vote. Especially for the “wrong kind of people,” and we know who they are: Democrats.

They dreamed up all kinds of strict ID requirements aimed at keeping the wrong people from voting, despite microscopic evidence of any fraud whatsoever. Texas, as usual, is one of the worst. In one case it refused to accept University of Texas ID cards (wrong kind of voter?), but a concealed weapon permit (right kind of voter) was okay.

When a dozen retired Catholic nuns went to an Indiana Democratic polling place to vote in 2008, they were rejected for lack of a photo ID. On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court, in all its questionable wisdom, ruled that Indiana was within its rights. In GOP-controlled Arizona, officials cut the number of Maricopa County polling places for the March 2016 primary from 2,000 to 60. The result was that some voters spent up to five hours in line, and some never got a chance to vote.

Meanwhile here in Santa Barbara County, Joe Holland, county clerk-recorder-assessor, was practically running out into State Street, begging registered voters to cast their ballots. Can’t get to the polls? He’d mail you a ballot. No charge. Just fill it out, and mail it in.

$$$ BATTLE: Watch for a big-money fight in November when 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, a Democrat, takes on Republican Justin Fareed for the congressional seat being vacated by Representative Lois Capps. In D.C., Demo honchos are determined not to lose the seat Capps has held for nearly two decades, and her late husband, Walter, before that. They even dispatched a couple dozen young Congressional aides to bed down at the homes of Santa Barbara party loyalists to knock on doors in the pre-election days, beating the drum for Carbajal.

Santa Barbara’s Demo Mayor Helene Schneider went head-to-head with Carbajal and the Democratic Party power and lost. But it would have been fun to have her feisty voice shaking up the Capitol corridors.

LAST YEAR FOR PANCAKES: One of the most neighborly things about Fiesta for all these years has been the Kiwanis Club of Santa Barbara’s Saturday pancake breakfast. But according to sad news from Peter Giorgi of the Kiwanis, 2016 will be the last flapjack orgy at Fiesta. “The city has charged excessive fees for the use of [Alameda Park], and we have had enough,” Giorgi told The Independent.

FALLEN ANGELS: No, not election losers but the 1920s-era Noël Coward play now at Ensemble Theatre Company’s New Vic. As Paige Lindsey White and Julie Granata romped through the boozy sex comedy, I found myself hoping that Ensemble will award us at least one Coward play per election. (Shows through June 26.)


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