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Wednesday, 4 March 2020

California Primary: Los Angeles County Reporting Technical Issues: Long Lines, Malfunctioning Machines, Lack Of Staff

As the golden state of California voted in the Super Tuesday primary, the heavily populated Los Angeles County reportedly experienced an upsurge of technical issues at several polling places, where people waited in line for several hours to cast their ballots due to allegedly faulty voting machines.
“Los Angeles voters who showed up to cast ballots in person on Tuesday reported long wait times and operational errors at a number of the county’s newly designed vote centers, experiences adding up to an inauspicious beginning for L.A.’s first fully redesigned election system in more than half a century,” reported the Los Angeles Times.  “While some Angelenos had a different experience — giving the new voting machines high marks and applauding the extended hours of operation — a number of the in-person locations were unprepared to handle the throngs of voters who wanted to participate in the most talked-about California presidential primary in at least a generation.”
Jefferson Stewart, a software designer, reported to have waited in line for over 90 minutes to cast his vote at the Westchester Family YMCA. At the Eagle Rock Recreation Center, Christian Donovan said he arrived early to vote on Tuesday but was delayed with two of the six voting machines being out of order.
“That was a little disconcerting,” said Donovan. “And, at the time, it didn’t really cause a huge issue for me because there weren’t that many people there, but I can see how if there was a large crowd the line could stack up.”
Omar Noureldin, a resident in Arcadia,  reported seeing a line of people trailing down two flights of stairs at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles that eventually poured out onto the sidewalk. “Those people that are in line around the corner are probably going to be there for three hours — if they wait,” he said.
The main issue: lack of proper staff and malfunctioning voting machines. L.A. County voting officials did not immediately confirm the exact source of the problem. More from the Los Angeles Times:
Election day was the ultimate stress test for the county’s new $300-million voting system. L.A. officials have spent months trying to raise awareness about two of the biggest 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.
The task was made that much more daunting by its scale. With 5.5 million voters, L.A. County is the largest voting bloc in California and larger than the electorate in all but 11 states.
Voters seemed to like the ballot-marking devices when they worked. The machine allows choices to be made on a touchscreen and then prints a paper ballot. Once the selections are reviewed, a voter feeds the paper ballot back into the machine where it’s deposited in a sealed ballot box.
Some 22,000 machines were deployed at 978 vote centers scattered across L.A. County. Another 6,000 were ready to be deployed as replacements. Elections officials did not respond to inquiries from The Times on Tuesday afternoon about how many machines had failed and were taken out of operation.
Voters reported a number of machines out of service at vote centers in Arcadia, the Carthay Square neighborhood in Los Angeles and Rancho Palos Verdes. In these locations and elsewhere, the result was a long line stretching outside and into nearby parking lots.

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