After 41 years and with numerous national, state and local elections results in the books, longtime Cerritos resident Gail Grossman says the garage of her home on Ashworth Place will longer serve as a polling place on election days.
“It’s been a tremendous experience, but it’s just time” Grossman said during the final voting hours of Tuesday’s primary. “I did it here at my home for the first time in June 1972 to keep myself occupied while I was pregnant and waiting to have my son, and I just enjoyed it so much … but I never ever thought I’d be doing it this long.”
Grossman’s election experience began when she was in high school, volunteering at a polling place when John F. Kennedy ran for President.
“I had done work as teenager in Lakewood at polling places and worked on many campaigns, so I have always been involved in elections and the political process,” she said.
But it was in May of 1972 when she would literally bring her Election Day experience closer to home.
She was eight months pregnant, had just quit her job and decided to host a polling station at her Cerritos residence.
“I thought this would be fun to do, I’d just work one night and see how it was … 40 plus years later here I am,” she chuckled.
Since then, the garage of Grossman’s home has served as a polling place during every election – except on two occasions – when her son graduated from college and once when she was on vacation.
Receiving a mere $25 to cover the costs of electricity at her home on Election Day in addition to another $25 for being a polling place inspector, she obviously doesn’t do it for the money. But Grossman said one of the biggest payoffs from her experience has been watching others exercise their right to vote for the very first time.
“I love it when we see voters vote for the first time and we’ve had a lot of first-time voters through the years,” she said.
“What’s also really neat is that I’ve seen three generations of families voting. This one young man used to come in with his mom and dad, and today he’s voting here with his wife,” she added.
But through the years, her Election Day role has also opened her eyes to how the area’s demographic has changed.
“I’ve lived here for 42 years and there’s been a big changeover in people,” she said. “Some of them are really aging, this is an aging population and we’re really seeing that today. There are no children on our block and I think the youngest is probably starting college.”
Over the span of four decades, Grossman says her view on the democratic process and the importance of voting is simple and clear.
“I think that if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,” she said simply.
After Tuesday's election, Grossman said she will no longer be doing county, state and federal elections but may consider the 2013 Cerritos City Council election as her final run.
When asked what she’ll miss the most about the Election Day experience, she did not hesitate to answer.
“The people. Seeing the people and seeing the kids,” she said. “I won’t miss getting up early, I won’t miss having to set everything up or do all that or go to classes every year – but I will be missing the people and watching the kids grow.”