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Jewish Journal

A Day at the Polls

by Michael Aushenker

November 9, 2000 | 7:00 pm

Casting a vote at Canfield Avenue School in the Pico-Robertson area.

Casting a vote at Canfield Avenue School in the Pico-Robertson area.

It was a clear and sunny Election Day, as a steady stream of voters arrived at Canfield Avenue School in the Pico-Robertson area - a good handful of men wearing yarmulkes.

One of them, Michel Mazouz, exited the voting booth holding the hand of his young daughter. The physician, who voted Democratic, believed that Bush "would work for big money," and he added that he did not feel that Bush's economic proposal was very sound in light of recent tax hikes. Said Mazouz,

"Gore's plan to selectively cut is more judicious for the economy in the long term."

"All elections are important," said Robert Avrech as he exited the polls. Earlier that day, Avrech tried to impress on his 12- and 15-year-old daughters how fortunate we, as Americans, are to live in a democracy."In this world that we live in, that's a miraculous thing," said Avrech, the screenwriter behind "A Stranger Among Us" and "The Devil's Arithmetic." As far as this year's issues, Avrech commented that "my main concern is the size of government. Every year, government gets larger and larger and the quality of life for many gets smaller."

"We're here to vote for a good president. I hope I voted for the right one," said Sarah Kaplan, a Beverlywood-area senior citizen who came to the school to vote.

"I wasn't in favor of either candidate, not on Gore, not on Bush," said Albert Kass, who nevertheless came down to the school with his wife to vote. "I don't think either of them will do anything for this country."Over at Hotel Del Flores in downtown Beverly Hills, Gabrielle Landau, an L.A. resident in her 20's, told The Journal that she was "very enthusiastic" about this election year.

"I'm a school teacher," said Landau, whose primary concern in this election is regarding the school vouchers issues. "We really got into it in class; we had a mock election. I'm doing my civic duty to vote."Landau said that she and her friends were "pretty excited" about voting this year. While Landau did not mention for whom she voted, she said that in her circles "everyone really wants to vote" for the party her vote was going to.

Also voting at the Crescent Drive location was Ed Markley, who voted for Gore and voiced his support for the Democratic Party. When asked whether he was passionate about this year's presidential campaign, Markley responded, "For me, it's never really a question of whether it's lively or dead. It's something that, as an American, I have to do." He added that "a lot more research" went into the local and state measures and propositions, as he found "a very limited amount of information" beyond the paid advertising for these initiatives.

Surprisingly, the Lieberman factor did not necessarily decide a Democratic vote for some of the Jewish voters. Like Kaplan, Markley said that the Lieberman nomination made "no difference" in making up his mind. For Landau, however, having Lieberman on the Democratic ticket was definitely a plus."It would be wonderful to have somebody Jewish in the White House," said Landau.

The scene was much more visceral earlier in the heart of West Hollywood's Russian Jewish community, where the voting lines at the Plummer Park recreation center spilled out into the street. The same held at the Chabad Russian Synagogue, three blocks away.

The immigrants, many newly minted American citizens exercising their voting rights for the first time, turned out in force and almost unanimously voted Democratic. Indeed, if voting had been restricted to the nearly 6,000 Russian Jews in West Hollywood, Gore would have won by universal acclamation."Everybody is for Gore," said Dimitri Olshansky, formerly of Minsk, over a domino game. "He's strong for Social Security. Also, his vice president is Jewish."

Sofya Chak, not yet a citizen, was waiting outside while her husband voted inside. "Gore has done everything for people like us," she said. "Next year, I'll be able to vote."

Simon Degin and Felix Lynminsky punched their ballots for Democrats "because they helped us come to the United States."

Leonid Shvartz, pointing to his elderly parents, said the preservation of Social Security swung him to Gore.None of the interviewees knew of a single Russian Jew voting for the Republican ticket.

However, David Aronovich said he was not voting for anyone.

"I didn't like the Monica Lewinsky affair, but I also didn't like how the Republicans went after President Clinton," he said. "So I won't vote for either side."

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