Long Beach is one of the most diverse cities in the nation, with thirds Latino and Caucasian and large populations of African American and Asian American, including the largest Cambodian population outside of Cambodia. The city is a land of contrasts with the Eastside and Bixby Knolls having greater household incomes, better access to commerce, healthy food, and amenities while Central, West, and North Long Beach have concentrations of poverty, crime, and obesity. There are also extreme differences in voter participation and until recently, representation, which largely follow those two contrasting populations of the city. At the time of this project’s inception, Place Make the Vote focused on these underrepresented communities at local municipal elections that took place in the districts that largely encompass Central and parts of North Long Beach.
At the same time, Long Beach will be going to the poll to elect leaders of half the City Council, School Board, and City College Board of Trustees, including the districts representing the Central area, which consistently has the city’s lowest voter turnout. Place Make the Vote took advantage of the community’s growing interest in finding spaces for sharing experiences, to share democracy. The then-current polling locations in Central Long Beach provides a great diversity of experiences for Place Make the Vote, including schools, places of worship, community centers, and local businesses.