Los Angeles County’s new voting system was marked by long lines, snafus and growing anger among voters, with some waiting hours to cast ballots that continued well into the night.
“This was a challenging day for a lot of voters in L.A. County, and I certainly apologize for that. That’s something that has to be better,” said Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters Dean Logan.
“It was a heavy lift,” Logan said of the switch to the new system. “I had hoped for a smoother transition.”
Logan said the lack of check-in options at the vote centers was a major flaw.
“The choke point seemed to be the check-in process,” he said.
It was an ugly debut for the county’s new $300-million voting system. L.A. officials spent months trying to raise awareness about two big changes: the elimination of neighborhood polling places and the debut of ballot-marking touchscreen devices in regional vote centers, available to everyone and spread throughout the county….
Voters fumed and demanded answers. As midnight approached, some were still waiting to cast ballots at several locations.
“This is like gridlock on the 405,” said Brentwood resident Myles Berkowitz, who was waiting in line around 8:30 p.m. “It’s an absolute disaster. The longest I’ve waited was in ’92 and that was for Bill] Clinton. That was an hour.”
Berkowitz stopped by the Hammer Museum in Westwood around 4 p.m. to vote but was told by a polling staffer that it would be a three-hour wait. So he drove to Felicia Mahood Senior Citizen Center in West Los Angeles, and stood in line for 20 minutes when a staffer there told Berkowitz that two of the center’s five voting machines were down.
The staffer warned it would be a 45-minute wait and suggested that Berkowitz head to another vote center at Brockton Elementary School. He drove there, only to be told it would be a two-hour wait.
Frustrated, Berkowitz headed back to the senior center, hoping the lines there had died down. They had not.
I had told John Myers of the Times of my concerns with LA doing so many new things at once in a high stakes election: from new voting machines, to new e-pollbooks, to the consolidation of voting into vote centers, to same day voter registration availability at each polling station.
It was a lot. And with voters’ confidence already undermined by a series of election meltdowns, this was not good for the largest electoral jurisdiction in the country.
The point now is for Dean Logan, who I know has the best of intentions, to figure out what changes need to be made before November. There needs to be a full inquiry. Fixes likely will require additional resources. And I wonder if L.A.’s exemption from the new California law requiring each California voter voting in a jurisdiction that has switched to vote centers to automatically get an absentee ballot in the mail was a good idea.