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Los Angeles County’s 2020 primary was even more chaotic and poorly planned than previously indicated, according to an unpublished consultants’ report obtained by POLITICO.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. 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.
California Secretary of State finalizing voting regulations aimed at Shasta County | Roman Battaglia/Jefferson Public Radio
Shasta County in Northern California has become the first and only county in the state to switch back to hand-counting ballots in elections, prompting the need for specific procedures to be outlined. California has not hand-counted every ballot for decades, so rules must be established to ensure accuracy and prevent tampering. The new regulations require a machine recount to verify any discrepancies from the hand-counting process. Shasta County Clerk Cathy Darling Allen anticipates challenges in recruiting enough temporary staff and finding sufficient space for counting and storage. A plan needs to be prepared and approved in time for the upcoming November election. Read Article