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Ladera Heights voter: 'This year seems more important'

November 6, 2012 | 12:29 pm

By 6 a.m. Tuesday, voters in Ladera Heights had formed a line that snaked along the outside of Saint Mary's Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, past the restrooms and down the steps.

Nearly five hours later, voters continued to arrive.

"People just keep coming, there's been no break," said Sharon O'Daniel, a volunteer poll worker.

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

O'Daniel has lived in the neighborhood for more than 25 years and volunteered for the last presidential election when a breathless excitement and fervor seemed to take hold of the predominantly black area.

"Ohhh," O'Daniel said when reflecting on that day four years ago. She sighed, then smiled and laughed.

"It was like there was a high the whole day. It wasn't the first time a black man ran for president, but it was the first time we felt he had a chance."

Like many others, O'Daniel, a TV technician, noted that this time around, the area has had a more subdued vibe.

Neighborhood resident David LaVelle, 42, said that in some ways the day felt more serious.

"Last time it was more celebratory because I think it was the shock and about the actual possibility," he said. "Now it's more about due diligence. Before it was, [Barack Obama] could win. Now it's, he's got to win."

LaVelle, who owns a photo studio, art gallery and salon, said he has noticed an overwhelming push among friends and family members to get people to the polls.

His cellphone was lighting up all morning with texts from friends making sure he voted. And he's sent out his own fair share of texts and emails. Facebook posts and Tweets are dominated by exhortations to vote and he's noticed many of his friends cast their ballots early. In fact, LaVelle said he felt a bit late in the game for voting on the actual election day. 

"This year seems more important," he said.

For Patricia Bruno the sentiment about Tuesday's election may appear toned down in public, but among her friends it's a topic that still brings up strong emotions.

"Everyone I speak with is fired up about it," said the 60-year-old medical office manager. "Obama needs a chance to finish what he started."

Did you vote today? Tweet your election day photos to @lanow. Use the hashtag #LAVote. Tell us why/how you voted!

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-- Corina Knoll

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