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Many in Downtown say they're not voting in Tuesday's elections

By Hayley Fox
Published: Monday, June 04, 2012, at 03:27PM

Jeremy Clark from Los Feliz said he's in support of the smoking tax -- but he's not sure if he'll be voting at tomorrow's polls.

Some Angelenos will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote on California propositions, candidates for state and federal office and the election of the L.A. County District Attorney.

The vote will be the first ever statewide test of a new open primary system and includes highly publicized issues such as Proposition 29, which raises taxes on cigarettes by $1 a pack. Blogdowntown spoke with several people in DTLA who said they're not planning on voting -- either because they weren't aware there was an election, they're not eligible to vote or they don't think their voice will make a difference.

"There's an election tomorrow?" asked Kaan Ozgunay. "That's how interested I am."

Joanna Herrera, 20, said she's seen proposition posters up but didn't know when the upcoming election was or what it was for. She said she would have voted if she understood the issues. "If there was more information maybe like, commercials or pamphlets or something, that I would be aware of to be more knowledgeable on the topic"

Herrera hasn't voted in any elections yet, but plans to in November.

Tuesday's ballot includes electing a replacement for the retiring District Attorney Steve Cooley, who's been in office for more than a decade and has six candidates competing for his seat.

KPCC reports that the results of the election could make history, because three of the people running are African American and two are women, and L.A. County has never before had a black or female district attorney.

Mitchell James, 32, said voting in Tuesday's election for a new D.A. is "critical" because this position influences multiple levels of the criminal justice system -- from housing laws in prisons to plea bargains and criminal releases.

"It has a huge effect on anybody that actually lives in the area -- in the county for that matter, probably even farther because most people that slide through are gonna run away."

He added that if he could vote he would -- but his status as a felon prevents him from doing so.

"It's not a good deal to have the wrong person in that office," James said.

Mike Longenbach, an L.A. resident via Orange County, said he already voted with an absentee ballot.

"I think it's just important to vote in any election to get your voice heard," he said. "There's a lot of props on this ballot that are pretty important to everyone who lives in California."

Longenbach said as a smoker he was especially interested in Prop 29. He voted against it on his ballot because he didn't think it was clear where the tax money would go or who would regulate it.

"I'm not against taxing cigarette smokers but I think there may be a better way to do taxes at this point in time."

Prop 29 has gotten many potential voters attention: KPCC reports that those in support of the proposal say making tobacco expensive may discourage young smokers and that the money generated from the additional taxes could be spent on cancer research. Opponents, including tobacco companies and business groups, say there's already a substantial California tax on cigarettes.

Jeremy Clark from Los Feliz said he's a non-smoker and in support of the smoking tax. He said that although he normally votes in state and local elections, he's not sure if he will tomorrow because he hasn't familiarized himself with all of the issues.

For more information on tomorrow's election or to find out where your polling location is, go to KPCC's election page.

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