TORRANCE, Calif. – One of the most important elections in recent history is less than two months away with the pandemic still plaguing communities. Millennial community organizers like Andrea Sanchez with the Torrance for Justice organization, that formed just two months ago, are hoping the city of Torrance will install Vote by Mail drop boxes throughout the city to make voting more accessible.
“I just want to make sure that other people of color like me, that aren’t as fortunate in the northern parts, eastern parts [of Torrance] where they are under-resourced, that they are able to access these vote by mail drop boxes,” Sanchez said.
Five drop boxes were allocated by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/City Clerk for the city of Torrance. The drop boxes would provide an additional resource for voters in this upcoming election, to drop-off their ballots in an outdoor, 24-hour, secure box that will give individuals like Sanchez a safe way to drop off their ballot during the pandemic. More than 300 drop boxes will be installed throughout the county, according to the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.
“I would prefer not to be in an enclosed space with a bunch of people casting my ballot. I think it’s going to be a lot more safer being in an open space, choosing whatever time of day to submit it,” Sanchez said.
For the last few weeks, Sanchez and the Torrance For Justice group rallied to bring all five drop boxes into the city. Despite their plea, city council members shared that voting centers, voting-by-mail, and other options were more than enough for the city’s 91,000 registered voters.
“First and foremost, I just feel that these boxes are totally unnecessary,” Councilmember Mike Griffiths said in an Aug.25 city council meeting.
“We have so many different opportunities to vote right now and I just don’t see that we need anything more,” Councilmember Sharon Kalani said in the same meeting.
But after much debate over possible vandalism and the installation that would remain in the city for five years, the Torrance City Council approved to have only one of five vote-by-mail drop boxes for a one-year period. Mayor Patrick Furey credits residents like Sanchez for pushing the council to bring at least one to the city, possibly somewhere within the city hall campus.
“We’re 21-square miles. So, theoretically, there’s places where you are eight or nine miles away from city hall and that might be too far and I'd much rather see the five boxes,” Furey said.
Although the city approved to bring in at least one drop box within city limits, Sanchez said that it’s not enough.
“We’re not going to stop pushing until we have one in every zip code, it’s only fair,” Sanchez said.
Installing drop boxes and determining locations involves a collaboration between the city and the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/City Clerk, according to the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder.
In an effort, to bring additional boxes to the area, county election officials will be working with community partners to bring the remaining four drop boxes in the city. But until then, Sanchez and the Torrance For Justice group will do everything they can to make it easier for everyone to vote.