“Cascade of failures upended LA County’s 2020 primary, report finds”


The election that spawned malfunctions and long lines during Los Angeles County’s 2020 primary was even more chaotic and poorly planned than previously indicated, according to an unpublished consultants’ report obtained by POLITICO.

The 390-page document by Slalom Consulting describes a beleaguered election department that missed key deadlines, failed to properly manage a vendor that supplied faulty equipment, and hired inexperienced call center staff to help election workers deal with the breakdowns.

The report holds implications for other local governments as they increasingly adopt the same kinds of election changes implemented last year in Los Angeles County, one of the nation’s most populous voting jurisdictions. Those include an expansion of early voting; a switch from neighborhood precincts to vote centers where anyone registered in the county can cast ballots; and the use of electronic devices instead of paper “poll books” to verify voters’ eligibility.https://d3dfd269098fccd6b58d977f3dad3e87.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The county managed these changes ineffectively, the consultants wrote, leaving it unprepared to respond to technical problems. Among them were troubles with the electronic poll books, which have also caused confusion and hourslong waits in places such as Georgia, Philadelphia, North Carolina and South Dakota.

Other jurisdictions should take heed, one elections expert said in a text message. “The spectacular failure of LA’s primary shows just how brittle the vote center model actually is, and how easily elections dependent on vote centers can be crippled by malfunctioning e-pollbooks,” said Susan Greenhalgh, senior adviser on election security for the election integrity group Free Speech for People.

There’s no evidence that the chaos affected Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ victory in California’s Democratic presidential primary, and the county’s performance in the November 2020 general election was free of any major problems. Still, any kind of trouble at the polls can help nourish conspiracy theories that undermine the public’s confidence in election results.

POLITICO obtained a redacted copy of the report this month after suing the county, which had cited security concerns in refusing to release the full document. POLITICO had earlier reported on a shorter, county-authored analysis that pointed to many of the same causes for the election disarray.

“The March 2020 Primary Election exposed some inefficiencies in our processes, technologies, and service model for in-person voting,” wrote Michael Sanchez, a county spokesperson, in an email responding to requests for comment on the report. “The issues and lessons learned … were corrected and resulted in a successful November 2020 General Election. Significant to that success was the implementation of a comprehensive corrective action plan.”

Share this: