By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
5:30 P.M., Election Eve. The after-school day care at La Veta Elementary School in El Modena is a whirlwind of activity. My daughter runs up to me and exclaims, "Tomorrow is Election Day! We got to vote today!"
She points to a white mock ballot box set up on a shelf. I smile at her, crouch down and ask, "Did you get to vote, too?"
She grins and says, "I voted for Obama!"
"Oh?" I respond. "How come?"
"Because I like Michelle Obama!"
An older girl, maybe in fourth grade, rolls her eyes and says, "That's not a good reason! Michelle Obama wouldn't be the president. I voted for President Obama for a different reason."
"What's that?" I ask.
"He's black, and black is closer to Mexican than Romney is."
Ouch. (Dave Lieberman)
* * *
4:30 A.M. Election Day begins with 1:03 a.m. gunfire in Anaheim and a 2:39 a.m. earthquake measuring 3.3 on the Richter Magnitude scale 9 miles off the coast. (R. Scott Moxley)
* * *
SOMEBODY'S TERRIBLY WRONG
5:45 A.M. FOX News analyst Dick Morris is confidently predicting a 325 electoral college "landslide" for Romney while New York Times odds expert Nate Silver says Obama has a 91.6 percent chance to win and nab 315 EC votes. (RSM)
* * *
VOTING BEFORE MORNING PHO
7:14 A.M. In the heart of Little Saigon, 11 people are voting or waiting to vote; poll workers say one of five machines is already broken. (RSM)
* * *
ROYCE ROLLS IN $ FROM RHYMING ASIANS
8:08 A.M. In the Ed Royce-vs.-Jay Chen LA-OC congressional race, Royce reports $1,000 last-minute contributions from Wang, Yang, Wu, Hu, Huang, Hsu, Su, Leu, Lin, Yen and Liu. (RSM)
* * *
WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?
8:48 A.M. OC public-employees union boss Jennifer Muir is calling on voters to fight "injustice" by rejecting Proposition 32, which empties union political coffers, and Costa Mesa's Measure V, which would aid privatization of government services. (RSM)
* * *
REGISTER HUMOR, PART 1
9:16 A.M. Orange County Register commenter Mark Hermanson writes, "Why even bother in CA, just give it to the Dems, then the illegals won't have to go out and vote?" (RSM)
* * *
9:47 A.M. At a popular Chinese fish-soup café on Bolsa Avenue in Westminster, a customer declares, "It's the day to vote!" The middle-aged waitress, with a strained look on her face, replies, "Vote for what?" (RSM)
* * *
OLD PEOPLE RULE
9:35 A.M. Maybe it's where I live or the fact that I arrived at the banquet room of Long Beach's Belmont Olympic Plaza at an hour when most working people are already at their jobs, but whatever the reason, I'm the youngest person here—by a margin of decades. These are folks who first cast ballots for Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Herbert Hoover.
The room where I cast my ballot is located on the second story of the building that houses Long Beach's largest indoor pool, and a long concrete ramp must be navigated before I get inside. It's not easy for those with canes or walkers, but they cheerfully deflect offers of assistance. Once inside, I realize it's not just the voters who are old, but the poll workers, too.
And thank God for that. Unlike me, these people know their elections. I've only registered to vote a week ago and have just been warned by a twentysomething girl at the front door that I must fill out a provisional ballot because she can't find my name. I'm rescued by a cute old lady, who grabs a different list and finds my name. When I don't understand how to put my just-inked ballot in the machine, the wrinkled guy in the sailor's cap winks at me and finishes the job.
"Thank you, sir," I say. America's greatest generation is still with us, saving our democracy one vote at a time. (Nick Schou)
* * *
10 A.M. "¡PORQUERÍA!" Manuel spits out, using the Mexican Spanish term for "clusterfuck." "¡PINCHE PORQUERÍA!"
He sits on a milk crate in front of Alebrije's, the Santa Ana lonchera legendary for its pink-Cadillac color scheme and massive tacos. On Manuel's jacket, an "I Voted" sticker glimmers in the morning sun. The retiree has just returned from his usual fall home in Mexico City to vote, the same way he has for the past decade. Earlier this year, Manuel participated in the Mexican presidential elections, casting his ballot for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the firebrand progressive who represented the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD), the perennial third party in that country's politics.
"AMLO [Obrador's nickname] would've made Obama stop this pinche drug war," Manuel says in Spanish, his voice rising in anger. "But this pendejo Peña Nieto?" he adds, referring to Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) who won the election. "He's a narco himself—and a joto!"
Who did he vote for in the American presidential election? Obama. "Romney reminds me of Peña Nieto," Manuel explains. "Too good-looking, too rich, too mamón"—a dick sucker, although he said it in a way that it sounded like "Mormon." A pun. He laughs.
"Obama's not good, either," Manuel continues. Three of his relatives have been deported in the past two years, and the promised amnesty Obama offered Latinos has yet to come to fruition. "I was a mojado myself," the 62-year-old says. "Reagan's amnesty helped me and so many more. Why won't Obama help Mexicans? Because it's all PORQUERÍA!
"But Obama's better than Romney," he goes on. "They're both PORQUERÍA!"
He finally stops his rant, gets up from the crate, and approaches Alebrije's. "Can I have another taco de carnitas? I do like puerco." (Gustavo Arellano)
* * *
10:09 A.M. Obama is in fifth place at the white supremacists' Stormfront.com voting; Romney is the top vote getter, followed by Ron Paul and Merlin Miller. (RSM)
* * *
10:36 A.M. On the eve of an easy win, Dana Rohrabacher, who deposits a percentage of his campaign contributions into his personal bank account, nabs $9,500 in last-minute money from corporate PACs. (RSM)
* * *
10:49 A.M. Rush Limbaugh declares that "Mittmentum" rules the day and "this election isn't gonna be close." (RSM)
* * *
THE RIGHT WAY
11 A.M. At the quiet Fountain Valley church I've been voting at for the past four elections, this year I see the same sweet elderly ladies taking names and handing out paper slips, the same picnic table of assorted baked sweets and hot dogs (which were delicious), and the same line of locals politely waiting their turn to occupy an electronic voting booth, standing obediently and completely in silence.
I'm about four people back when an octogenarian with theatrically dyed burgundy hair, finished exercising her civil right, walks to the volunteer holding a basket of "I Voted" stickers. As she grabs a handful, she winks at him and says, "I voted the right way!" Then as she passes me, she grasps my sleeve and warns, "You better vote the right way, too, dear!"
"Yes, ma'am." What else was there to say, exactly?
I make eye contact with the volunteer holding the stickers. "As long as she believes she voted the right way, that's what matters," he offers. "It's the people who don't vote and complain about it that really get me."
He went on, "You'd be surprised how many people at my work don't vote at all. You know why? They don't want to get called into jury duty."
"I'm pretty sure you get called to jury duty anyway," I answer, pausing to emphasize my contention before adding, "and even if that were true, one obviously outweighs the other in importance, don't you think?
"Yes, I do," says the volunteer. "But a lot of people in this country don't think so." (Erin DeWitt)
* * *
REGISTER HUMOR, PART 2
11:15 A.M. OC Register "top commenter" Bob Holtzclaw writes that Governor Jerry Brown ordered two days of voting: Nov. 6 for Republicans and Nov. 7 for Democrats. Uh, okay. (RSM)
* * *
11:39 A.M. NBC in the Bay Area reports that an elderly woman who died in 2004 has voted in past two presidential elections. (RSM)
* * *
12:02 P.M. Irvine Representative John Campbell will crush Democrat Sukhee Kang tonight, but he grabbed $4,000 in last-minute contributions from real-estate special interests. (RSM)
* * *
12:20 P.M. On FOX, conservative Lars Larson says Obama "doesn't have a positive view of American, and neither does his wife. This is the real Obama. He's angry." (RSM)
* * *
1:30 P.M. Anita is fasting so that God will help Romney win. She is from Peru, but, she says, she is an American citizen, living here for 40 years. "The young people don't know what this country used to be," she explains slowly in a heavy accent. "It wasn't like this 40 years ago. Now, we have all this crime, homosexuals, thieves, prostitution and so many problems with the illegal immigrants."
She's standing on the side of Imperial Highway in Yorba Linda with her son's ex-girlfriend. She has printed a huge "Romney" banner and tied it underneath a sign for the 91 freeway. She believes that Romney will fix these problems and that lots of prayer and some fasting will help that come to fruition. Jenny, the ex-girlfriend, believes that Republican candidate will create jobs. She lives in Los Angeles and wants to be a singer but is currently unemployed.
Moments earlier, a cop car had pulled beside them. Although both women insist they've had no confrontations with anyone, someone must have reported them. Jenny explains at an equally slow pace that someone might have told the police Anita "was not feeling well." They suspect sabotage. (LP Hastings)
* * *
CAL STATE OF MIND
2 P.M. Cal State Fullerton is usually bustling with people handing out pamphlets, yelling about their beliefs and setting up booths for those beliefs. Yet today, the campus is full of commuters quietly walking across the campus with only passing murmurs of Obama vs. Romney.
Where are the people with megaphones telling me to vote? At least there should be someone trying to promote Proposition 30, the initiative aimed at helping the education budget. Nope. Nothing. Oddly enough, the only people with a legitimate setup, besides some dudes with a spinning wheel giving out free appetizer coupons, are the Pedals for Push organization:15 people riding stationary bicycles under two "easy-ups."
A closer examination reveals small pieces of paper with signatures hung up around the canopies. These signatures pledge to "end the use of the 'R' word" and "promote acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities." The "R" word? Doesn't rhyme with Romney. (LPH)
* * *
NO LOVE CONNECTION
3:14 P.M. OC Republicans are circulating game show host Chuck Woolery's tweet: "I just want the job of giving Obama/Biden lovely parting gifts." (RSM)
* * *
POWER IN NUMBERS
5:05 P.M. You can see the last streaks of cerulean sky turn anemic against the darkness from the giant storefront window of Dr. Freecloud's in Fountain Valley. The glow of orbs hanging from the ceiling gets a little warmer as I peruse stacks of record sleeves that have been touched and scrutinized in every way possible. I'm surrounded by punk posters, neon T-shirts and psychedelic-graffiti murals.
In the funk section, I brush lightly over used cardboard sleeves of old-schools idols such as Prince, the Meters and El De Barge. The store's co-owner Helen flashes me a smile as my Converse soles shuffle through the isles. "Any special election sales I should know about?" I ask.
She tells me today's discount is 25 percent for anyone who voted. "Just show us that sticker that says you voted or . . ." She trails off as I look down at my chest like an idiot for a sticker I know I don't have. "Or if you just tell us you voted, we can hook you up."
Ah, sweet mercy on this day of civic duty. There's no way the cash in my pocket is gonna cover the eight used records under my arm. After a few minutes of forking chow mein from a styrofoam container and entertaining her young son behind the counter, Helen strolls over to the turntables in the center of the store and throws on a Jurassic 5 record, Power In Numbers. She drops the needle on the second track, "Freedom."
My wallet feels more liberated than it has in days as I continue thumbing through stacks for the next great find. (Nate Jackson)
* * *
THE EYES OF PUTIN
5:19 P.M. In Fingerprints in the LBC, I'm drinking coffee and waiting for someone to scream out, "Down with Romney scum," but nothing crazy happens. I walk around the shop and run into owner Rand Foster as he is restocking some CDs. When I ask him who he voted for, Rand replies, "I'm a liberal."
I walk down the aisles of indie rocker albums and pay for my Jack Kerouac and Orson Scott Card books. I start talking to some guy buying a whole bunch of CDs. He has an accent I can't place at first.
"Did you vote?" I ask. He looks at me and smiles as though he just farted silently. It's an awkward conversation to have with a stranger, kind of like walking up to a guy and asking him with which hand he masturbates. He is a bald man about 50 years old. He says, "I'm just a stranger" and peers back at the cash register.
"Where you from?" I ask. He looks around as if what he is about to say next could implicate him in a crime. "Russia," he says. "I'm from volleyball team, Moscow State."
I can just hear the Republicans telling him to go back to Russia. Beware the eyes of Putin! (Joseph Lapin)
* * *
FEEL THE RAGE
7:21 P.M. Outside the Santa Ana ballroom at the Westin South Coast Plaza, Republicans are arriving early, dressed in their Sunday best and hoping for a party to, as one middle-aged reveler declared before he entered, "boot the damn bum out of the White House!"
The room is decorated with festive red, white and blue balloons. The bartenders have no customers, and the atmosphere is reminiscent of a funeral parlor. Somber FOX News commentators on the jumbo TV screen have abandoned their October scripts about an impending Romney "landslide," unable to mask what they know: They couldn't have been more wrong about the election. Not even a cameo TV appearance by darling Sarah Palin lifts anyone's spirits.
A quiet Jerry Hayden, the rookie congressional candidate who would get officially trounced later in the night by the mighty Loretta Sanchez, stood around without Republicans thanking him for his political suicide mission. When FOX declares Democrat Claire McCaskill the winner over rape-ain't-so-bad-believer Todd Akin in Missouri, the crowd emits a collective moan. Lines begin to form at the bars, where ladies buy $10 glasses of red wine and men order $12 liquor shots.
Soon the mood lightens in the overwhelmingly Caucasian crowd. Three huddled, natty, middle-aged businessmen collectively decide that Florida will go to Romney, and that will launch a sweep. Smiles appear on their faces. One of them says, "All we need is Florida and Virginia," which prompts the youngest one to add, "And Colorado and Ohio." The smiles disappear.
FOX shows Obama in the lead in Florida as an elderly woman grabs her towering bouffant with both hands and screams, "No!" Desperate for any good news, the crowd overreacts with joy after Arizona, a state never in doubt, is projected to Romney. When Ohio goes to Obama, the room erupts in angry boos. James Rogan—the congressman turned judge—slowly shakes his head. At the same time, multiple people utter, "Oh, my god."
Couples, some with tears in their eyes, hug tightly. The band strikes up their rendition of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want." A man wearing a Paul Revere hat guzzles a Coors Light. Former GovernorPete Wilson, looking pale and shaky from age, takes the podium. "My friends, we will live to fight again!" says the man whose policies helped drive Latinos from the GOP. "We will win the next time, and California will be what it should be!" (RSM)
* * *
8:17 P.M. A mix of community members and staffers gathers at the upstairs office of the Council on Islamic-American Relations-LA in Anaheim when CNN calls Ohio and projects Obama as the winner of this presidential election. Everyone stops sipping coffees and munching on spinach-and-cheese pies provided by Al Amir Bakery in Little Arabia and stands up, filling the building with jubilant applause.
Someone changes the television to the Daily Show With Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. Not all present are Obama supporters; some had cast their vote for an alternate candidate such as Jill Stein of the Green Party. But not this lady wearing a fashionable hijab. "Alhamdulillah, Barack won," she exclaims in relief, blissfully unaware of just how scary all this is for the "Obama is a Muslim" crowd. (Gabriel San Roman)
* * *
LIKE A BOSS
8:47 P.M. Obama is still our president. Walking through the foggy air into Detroit Bar is like coming in on a breeze of relief, as three big screens over the bar blaze with the results of the 2012 presidential election—the FOX 11 broadcast, no less.
Perfect. Detroit's regulars know it's time for two things: booze and indie rock from OC's Devious Means, Midnight Hour and a band from San Luis Obispo called PK. Though he seems determined during their set to not bring up the election, PK's singer looks at a steadily growing crowd. "Who voted today?" he yells. The response is less than enthusiastic, as though people were over the election the minute it ended. But as the crowd fills up, cries of "Obama!" and "Four more years!" sound off in pockets around the bar.
Headliners the Devious Means walk in with Election Day gifts to bestow: fake mustaches, tobacco (yes, for all to share!) and buttons that read, "I Voted, Now I'm Gunna See the Devious Means." It's not too hard to identify the Obama supporters in this crowd. Edging up to the bar to get a drink, two women attempt to scream about how they're glad Romney didn't squeak one out. "He just reminds me of every slick, asshole boss I've ever worked for," one says. "No way I could've voted for him." (NJ)
* * *
PROP. TILL YOU DROP
9:45 P.M. The largest union hall in all of Orange County belongs to the United Food and Commercial Workers local 324. Workers, their families and their supporters file into the Buena Park building for the official "Yes on 30, No on 32" election-night party. The two propositions on the ballot are key to teachers and union members alike.
There is hopeful optimism about Prop. 32 going down in defeat, sparing unions from being gutted further. Trepidation, however, envelops the early reports on Prop. 30, leading folks to worry about its defeat and a possible de-funding of schools.
"If Prop. 30 doesn't pass, there's no hope for higher education," Valley High School teacher Benjamin Vasquez remarks to me. "We're going to have 40-plus kids in every classroom." (By the following morning, Prop. 30 will have won after all.)
But all is not grim. Tefere Gebre of the Orange County Labor Federation takes to the mic to rally the crowd over the defeat of Costa Mesa's privatizing charter measure. There is also, of course, the presidential election. With MSNBC on the large projection screen, Romney appears to give his concession speech. "Booooo!" the crowd jeers. Obama then delivers his victory speech, and the rank-and-file at the union hall cheer. Youngsters bust out in "Gangnam Style" dancing. The future of America's labor movement is unforeseeable, but for now, there is power in this union. (GSR)
* * *
WINNING IS EASY
10 P.M. Judging by the text messages and tweets sent out by R. Scott Moxley about demoralized Republicans at their campaign funeral, it occurs to me that covering the victory just isn't as fun as watching conservatives cry.
At the campaign party for Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who has been in office since ousting Bob Dornan in 1996, it has been one victory piled on another. This year's event is held in a former Peruvian restaurant in Anaheim; supporters start trickling in at 8:30 p.m. As CBS flickers images on a large television predicting a win for Obama, a twentysomething male in a suit and tie gushes into his phone, "How great is this? I'm really excited."
Sanchez arrives and quickly begins doling out hugs to supporters and squealing with joy. She tells me she won't be heading over to Original Mike's for the big Democrat soiree because she has a party of her own to start right there in Anaheim. Besides, she says, Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva, who's running for a state Assembly seat, will be joining her.
"Hopefully, I'll win, Sharon will win ,and off we'll go," she says with the exuberance of a cheerleader. Quirk-Silva, along with Jordan Brandman, Anaheim's newest city councilman, rolls in around the time Obama begins delivering his victory speech. Soon after, it becomes clear all three will likely win their respective races. They give short speeches to a room of 100 or so supporters, each promising to act as a voice for working families. Asked if she expected Sacramento to be crazier than anything she's experienced in Fullerton, Quirk-Silva laughs. "I've been prepared to deal with Sacramento based on what I've dealt with in Fullerton in the past year," she says. (Brandon Ferguson)
* * *
DREAMS OF OTHERS
11:06 P.M. Fresh from the victory parties downtown, I pull into the gas station and greet the man filling his tank next to mine: "Buenas noches, señor." Ernesto Villarreal Ontiveros looks up from his gardening truck's gas tank and smiles. I ask him if he voted today; he is not a citizen, but his son and daughter, born here, voted.
I explain that Obama and Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido have been re-elected, that the tax measures are in doubt, and that Maryland passed its DREAM Act. That last one makes him smile. "My daughter is going to nursing school," Villarreal says. "We could have used the help, but I'm glad it's there for others."
We chat as I fill my tank, and I ask him if he's looking forward to the president's next four years. "I'm looking forward to the signs coming down," he says with a rueful grin. (DL)
* * *
GET YOUR FREAK ON
MIDNIGHT. "PUT YOUR FUCKING BOTTLES UP!" roars the house-music song blasting at the party held by Democratic activists in downtown Santa Ana. It isn't the official OC Dem fiesta, of course—that's just down Main Street at Original Mike's, where the music of choice is Phil Shane on the main stage and karaoke outside. But in the quinceañera hall that doubles as election-night headquarters for the next generation of OC's Latino Democrats, house music rules—mixed in with the cumbias and mariachi, it feels like a quinceañera party.
It's a great night for this next generation—sure, their candidate for SanTana mayor, David Benavides, loses big against Mayor-for-Life Pulido. But their council candidate, Roman Reyna, wins big. Obama wins big. Fullerton's Quirk-Silva pulls off a stunning upset by defeating incumbent 65th Assembly District member (and former OC Supervisor) Chris Norby. The old guard is at Original Mike's; the crowd at this hall is rowdy, enthusiastic and averages about 30 years in age. And so, as the great Rodney Dangerfield once said, let's dance!
First, it's the women, shimmying by themselves; then the guys, lamely following with their drinks up. Then Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez gets on the floor and starts freaking with a silver-haired gabacho who could pass for her father, moving her booty and shaking her chachas like some club kid on a Friday night.
No one cares. For once in Orange County's long, tortured history, the prospects of the Democratic Party are looking up. Who cares if an elected official lets her inner hoochie out. The Dems deserve it—and put their fucking drinks up. (GA)