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No on 8
Volunteers Harassed, Thrown Off Church Grounds

No on 8
Volunteers Harassed, Thrown Off Church Grounds

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All around Los Angeles, teams of volunteers dispatched by the Gay and Lesbian Center are responding to claims of friction at the polls. Thalia Zepatos, director of community engagement for the No on 8 campaign, said many places throughout L.A. County have reported harassment and illegal electioneering by churches. No on 8 volunteers have been removed from church grounds, one polling worker reportedly quoted the Bible, and at least one poll worker has urged people to vote Yes on 8.

All around Los Angeles, teams of volunteers dispatched by the Gay and Lesbian Center are responding to claims of friction at the polls.

One particular response team was dispatched to Pasadena. Mark Hefflinger, an operative for the No on 8 campaign, was part of a group sent to a polling place in Altadena due to reports that a disgruntled Yes on 8 voter had upset one of the No on 8 volunteers. According to Hefflinger, the Yes on 8 voter went into the polling place and complained toan unnamed female worker. One of the two called the police.

Police arrived, but found only a husband-and-wife volunteer team against Proposition 8. Whoever placed the call was no longer at the polling place.

In a second incident there, according to Hefflinger, before police arrived at the scene, a polling station worker decided unilaterally where the campaign boundaries should be, telling No on 8 volunteers they had to move farther away from their position and that they could not distribute any materials. By law, no one can campaign within 100 feet of a polling place.

When Hefflinger arrived, he said he found that No on 8 workers were not handing out the palm cards being distributed throughout California today -- one of the volunteers said they were not allowed to. They called No on 8 headquarters, who told them to go ahead and hand out cards again, while still respecting the "new" campaigning boundary line.

That didn't seem to please the poll worker, who came out moments later and again said they were not allowed to distribute literature. Hefflinger further asserted their right to do so. The poll worker continued to protest until she eventually threw her hands and walked back into the polling place. Interestingly, according to Hefflinger, that polling location reported that 85% of voters were saying they were voting no and glad to see the No on 8 team.

It's one of many reports from the field of poll workers and No on 8 volunteers butting heads.

Lorri Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, told The Advocate some churches where polling places have been set up are refusing to allow No on 8 volunteers within 100 feet of the polling place, saying that the voting is on church property. No on 8's attorney has the Secretary of State's office checking into this, according to Jean, but the law seems to be unclear whether it specifically forbids churches to discriminate in this way when their facilities are used for voting.

Thalia Zepatos, director of community engagement for the No on 8 campaign, said many places throughout L.A. County have reported harassment and illegal electioneering by churches. At the Valley Park Baptist Church in the west San Fernando Valley suburb of North Hills, police were called and asked to escort No on 8 volunteers away -- which they did.

At Los Angeles Christian Presbyterian Church in south Pasadena, a poll worker had been telling voters to vote Yes on 8.

Zepatos also said that at another church, a poll worker advised to vote Yes on 8 and began quoting the Bible, though she didn't know what church it was. The Advocate has not confirmed the church's location.

"We call in to the L.A. city elections office and report them," says Zepatos. "We say [such poll workers] should be removed."

As to whether they are removed, Zepatos says, "Probably not. They're shorthanded." (Corey Scholibo and Anne Stockwell, The Advocate)

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