Politics

Could food trucks bring more voters to the polls in Long Beach?

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File: "I voted" stickers are given out at Canyon Springs School's library in Santa Clarita during Los Angeles County's primary election.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

A Long Beach-based company called City Fabrick is working on a project to create social spaces near polling sites meant to entice people to come vote, so voters can look forward to more than just a sticker when leaving the polls this November.

The project is called "Place-make the Vote." The company announced Tuesday that it won more than $150,000 from the Knight Cities Challenge to make their idea a reality.

City Fabrick's executive director Brian Ulaszewski said the spaces will look like places that people would want to hang out, including outdoor seating, string lights, food and entertainment. 

A visual rendering of a City Fabrick
A visual rendering of a City Fabrick "Place-make the Vote" pop-up space.
Courtesy of City Fabrick

“Many of these residents might be registered to vote, but might not participate because they might forget or they might be busy, but if we can provide some additional sort of visual enticement, then they might actually participate in voting,” Ulaszewski told KPCC. 

Long Beach's voter turnout in the 2014 election was just 22.1 percent — lower than Los Angeles County's overall 25.2 percent, according to the Press-Telegram. City Fabrick's project is a collaboration with the Long Beach city clerk's office and a voter engagement organization called Long Beach Rising. 

City Fabrick will roll out two to three prototypes of the social spaces near polling sites during California's June primary. After that, Ulaszewski said that they will evaluate what was effective in preparation for wider programming across the city for the November polls. Before the primary election, the project will host stations for voter registration and absentee ballot turn-in, and prior to the November election, there will be a voter education drive. 

“We’re hoping to actually be able to share our learned lessons, and even create sort of a how-to kit for other communities to adapt the same thing in their respective neighborhoods and precincts,” Ulaszewski said. 

As for what the spaces will include, Ulaszewski said what is offered could depend on the time of day. In the morning, they might have coffee for voters who need caffeine, Ulaszewski said, then lunch food in the afternoon and entertainment in the evening.

“We’re hoping this is something that could be adapted to other communities,” Ulaszewski said. 

Knight Cities Challenge gave out $5 million to fund the 37 winning projects out of 4,500 applications, with two hailing from Long Beach. Along with Place-make the Vote, an "Outdoor Office" project submitted by the City of Long Beach won $300,000 to transform Harvey Milk Promenade Park into a space with Wi-Fi, charging stations, shade and flexible seating.