California: Sweeping change is coming for Los Angeles County voters. If things go wrong, he’ll get the blame | Matt Stiles/Los Angeles Times
Long before Dean Logan was the elections chief for the most populous county in California, he was an administrator for the most populous county in Washington state — and he was dealing with a crisis. It was the fall of 2004, four years after the contested Bush-versus-Gore presidential election, and voters had just produced one of the closest gubernatorial contests in American history. Fewer than 300 votes separated the candidates. Then things got worse. Logan realized that his staff had misfiled a batch of uncounted mail-in ballots — enough to sway the election. Under pressure, Logan insisted that the ballots be counted, making him a target of critics, including the state’s Republican Party chairman who insisted that the election was being “stolen.” A judge eventually validated Logan’s decision. Fifteen years later, the experience still haunts him. But it has informed and inspired his years-long personal quest to overhaul the way elections are conducted in Los Angeles County. Starting next year, some 5.2 million residents — a figure that eclipses the number of registered voters in most states — will change the way they cast ballots. If the process goes awry — either in the earlier-than-normal presidential primary in March or in the crucial November general election, in which President Trump will probably be on the ballot — blame could fall on Logan yet again.