Off-Ramp | Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Informed voter becomes aggravated, mystified

So in the next couple of weeks, I (Kevin Ferguson) have been slowly moving from my beloved hometown of Long Beach to Los Angeles. I've notified the post office, the DMV, my bank, even changed my Netflix address!

Moar importantly, I updated my info with the LA County Registrar of voters. I aspire to be an informed voter (for example: I know that in Long Beach, Laura Richardson respresents me in Congress, Warren Furutani and Alan Lowenthal are my State Assembly and State Senate representatives. My city councilman is Robert Garcia and Don Knabe is County Supervisor).

As a newcomer to LA proper, I was astounded by how long it took me to find out that same information. My Congress reprentative is Xavier Becerra, that was easy enough to find out by getting my full zip code and going to the House website. State senate and legislature? House website can't help there, but Project Vote Smart did: Gil Cedillo and Kevin De Leon, respectively. Still no City Council, nor County Sup.

I was about to give up. The city council website has this awful, bizarre PDF "map" rife with mointain ranges, carefully drawn district borders (and a gray Pacific Ocean, to boot!), but unfortunately no reference to streets, buildings, parks, wildlife refuges. Nothing. Could you find your council district on this thing?? Go ahead, try:

I was about to give up before I found a little form on the bottom of the city council website. I filled it out and it took me to a large, clunky applications called the LA City GeoQuest. Finally. Is GeoQuest odd? Yes. Complicated? That, too. But I know who represents me in City Council and on the board of supervisors. Bonus discovery: trash goes out on a Tuesday!