Barger calls for investigation to address election day issues in county

Voters line up around the corner of the Stevenson Ranch library building with less than an hour left to vote on election night. March 03, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

From hours-long lines that wrapped around buildings to understaffed vote centers, Super Tuesday brought out much frustration among many voters despite the new system aimed at streamlining the process. 

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose district includes the Santa Clarita Valley, is now calling for an investigation into why voters experienced multiple challenges on Super Tuesday and the prior days available for residents to vote to avoid similar instances occurring in November’s general election. 

The investigation, recommended via a motion submitted by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Barger, is scheduled to be formally voted on by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. 

“I am eager to see a complete briefing and report to fully assess any and all of the issues that voters may have experienced and ensure all necessary corrective actions are in place,” Barger said in a statement Thursday. 

The motion calls for a 45-day period for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk to investigate the excessive wait times that could have risen from technical issues during check-ins, determine what led to 17,000 voters not receiving their vote-by-mail ballots on time and ascertain why three cities and other smaller precincts were not included for Measure FD, as well as bring solutions to ensure adequate and sufficient staffing at each vote center location. 

On Thursday, Secretary of State Alex Padilla criticized the county administration and called on the county to mail every registered voter a ballot for the Nov. 3 general election in addition to improving operations at voter systems. 

Elections chief Dean Logan said Thursday in response that he would address the recommendations in his report to the Board of Supervisors. 

“The logistics and capacity for election administration in Los Angeles County are complex and demanding,” he said. “Significant efforts were made — and must be made going forward — to ensure greater access, functionality and reliability in the voting model.”

In the SCV, voters expressed mixed emotions about the new voting system but on election night, many shared the same sentiment: the lines to vote were too long. 

“It was a circus to have her wait outside for two hours,” said resident Jeff Thomas, who referred to his youngest child who waited nearly two hours at the Stevenson Ranch Library on Tuesday night.   

Others traveled across the valley to find vote centers with shorter wait times. 

These challenges, among others, come after the $300 million investment that Logan spearheaded in an effort to replace the outdated InkaVote system with one that offered a digital upgrade, multiple languages and the ability for people to vote at nearly 1,000 centers up to 11 days before Super Tuesday.   

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