LA voters head to the polls today to decide City Council, school board direction

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Los Angeles voters will decide who will fill two City Council seats, two school board seats and one ballot measure in today's municipal general election.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. and registered voters can find their polling place and sample ballot here.

The election has drawn millions in campaign fundraising dollars and spending by third parties. Los Angeles Unified School District board races, for example, have seen record-setting expenditures by outside groups, totaling more than $14 million. 

The balloting could swing the balance of the school board, which is split between pro-charter school members and those who have the backing of the public school teachers union. 

A key race in this battle pits incumbent Steve Zimmer, the school board president backed by the teachers union, against newcomer Nick Melvoin, who has major support from charter school interests.

Many are also keeping an eye on the race for the City Council District 1 seat held by incumbent Gil Cedillo. The election has been shaken up in recent weeks by revelations of postings on racist forums, taxes owed and martial infidelity by his opponent, Joe Bray-Ali, who has admitted to this history. The district covers communities like Highland Park, Cypress Park, Westlake and Chinatown.

In District 7 covering northeast San Fernando Valley, council candidates Karo Torossian and Monica Rodriguez are vying for the open seat left vacant last year by the resignation of Felipe Fuentes, who left to become a lobbyist.

All L.A. voters will get to vote on a proposed change to the City Charter that would alter the way police discipline reviews are handled. Measure C would give officers facing discipline the option of having their case heard by a board comprised of three civilians, rather than the current makeup of two LAPD command officers and one civilian.

The officers' union is backing an increased civilian role in police oversight, while Black Lives Matter has joined Chief Charlie Beck in expressing skepticism about the idea. 

Despite the record spending and controversies, participation is expected to be low. During the city's March primary, just 21.27 percent of registered voters showed up.

But this will be the city's last off-cycle election and a coming change is expected to improve voter turnout for city elections.

Voters approved a measure to move Los Angeles' primary and general election dates to June and November during even-numbered years beginning in 2020. The calendar shuffle will align the city races with other major elections that have high interest and better participation.

If you're looking for help on how to vote or to research the city races, check out KPCC's election resource summary here.

Below are other tips to help you out today:

Your vote by mail ballot must be postmarked by today to count. If you're voting by mail, you don't need to use a stamp on your envelope because the city is running this election. Unlike the county, the city prepays the postage on your vote by mail ballot. The deadlines remain the same. 

• It's best to confirm your polling location before you head out to vote to make sure it hasn't changed. Again, check your sample ballot for your polling location or do so online

• If you requested a vote by mail ballot but it did not arrive in time, you can go to your polling location today and vote in person. You can check the status of your vote by mail ballot online

• If you have questions or run into problems, contact the Los Angeles City Clerk's office, not the L.A. County Registrar's office. The toll-free phone number for the L.A. City Clerk's office is 888-873-1000.

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