California: Los Angeles County Claims Elections Will Be Smoother, Voters Aren’t Convinced | Nathan Solis/Courthouse News

Just weeks before health orders effectively shut down the nation due to the novel coronavirus, Los Angeles County voters waited for hours to cast their vote in the March primary election. What should have been the public introduction of a new $300 million voting system turned into a public stumble. An independent review of the election system released Friday details issues with computer tablets used to check-in voters at polling places, improperly trained staff and poor communication. The ePollbook, an iPad-like tablet meant to check-in voters, was unable to sync with the county’s voter database, according to a summary of the independent report. The county announced the findings of the independent review on Friday, but the summary released to the public is dated from earlier in the month. A spokesperson said the county would not release the full document to the public because the report “contains confidential information prepared for the Board of Supervisors and intended to safeguard and improve the voting system and the technology that supports it.”

California: Long Beach Reform Coalition files suit against Los Angeles County registrar over Measure A recount | Harry Salzgaver/ Press Telegram

The Long Beach Reform Coalition has filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County Clerk/Recorder Dean Logan over the county’s new voting system and an aborted recount of the city’s Measure A ballot initiative. The lawsuit, filed Monday, May 11, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks to have the Registrar’s Office restart the Measure A recount “at a reasonable cost,” said Ian Patton, director of the coalition. Mike Sanchez, spokesperson for the registrar, said the office has not yet been served and has not seen any of the lawsuit documents. “We do not comment on active litigation,” Sanchez said in an email. Measure A was a ballot initiative during the March 3 election that sought to indefinitely extend the 10-year 10.25% city sales tax that voters passed in 2016. Its proponents said throughout the campaign that Long Beach needs more funds to address infrastructure and public safety needs. Those opposed, including the coalition, argued that Long Beach hasn’t been a good steward of the money it’s received from the tax since 2016. The initiative passed by 16 votes, with nearly 100,000 votes cast.

California: Long Beach group sues Los Angeles County Registrar over Measure A recount | Anita W. Harris/The Signal Tribune

Local activists the Long Beach Reform Coalition (LBRC) hired Los Angeles election-law specialists Strumwasser & Woocher to file suit in the LA County Superior Court against LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) Dean Logan on Monday, May 11. “Our litigation seeks a writ of mandate and injunctive relief to force Mr. Logan to restart the recount of Long Beach Measure A as a traditional, paper-ballot recount at a reasonable cost,” LBRC said in a May 11 statement. Measure A had passed by a thin margin of 16 votes in the March 3 election, according to results certified by Logan’s office on March 27, with 49,676 voting in favor and 49,660 against. The measure’s passing extends an extra 1% Long Beach sales tax imposed in 2017 beyond its previous sunset date of 2027. The additional revenue bolsters public safety and improve infrastructure, including fire stations, libraries and parks, the City says. Given Measure A’s very narrow approval margin, LBRC requested a recount of the ballots beginning April 8, raising $26,000 from community supporters, according to its website.

California: Los Angeles County greenlights probe into Election Day voting-system failures | Ryan Carter/Los Angeles Daily News

L.A. County will investigate how an overhauled county vote system failed during the March 3 primary, leaving many voters confused and frustrated while waiting in long lines — and thousands of votes still uncounted a week after the election. The action — which would tap an independent, outside firm to analyze the voting system — came after a fiery Board of Supervisors meeting in which supervisors, voters and pollworkers laid into the county’s top voting official, Dean Logan, some calling for his dismissal. That election-day meltdown led to three-hour waits to vote and numerous bottlenecks amid the introduction of the $300 million system. “There were a lot of things that probably did go right, but to me that doesn’t mitigate everything that did go wrong,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, worried that the issues with the system need to be worked out before the general election in November. “A lot went wrong. I’ve got to tell you I was very, very, very disappointed.”

California: Voting issues prompt a probe, grilling of Los Angeles County election chief | Matt Stiles/Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday ordered an investigation into complaints about long waits and equipment malfunctions that hampered voting at many poll centers during last week’s primary election. At a hearing on Tuesday, the supervisors ordered the county’s chief elections official, Dean Logan, to explain what they called “serious problems” for voters — and to address them before the general election in November. They didn’t mince words in telling Logan that they were dissatisfied and concerned with the performance of a new $300 million electronic voting system that his office unveiled for the primary. “We made it less accessible for people on Election Day. We made it less convenient. We made it less desirable to vote,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, whose motion prompted the hearing. “I’m sorry to say I’ve lost confidence, and I know the public has lost confidence. We have to fix this.” Logan, who, in his more than decade on the job, has weathered controversies without such a public rebuke from the supervisors, apologized for the problems that voters experienced, but stood by his long-developed vision for a new voting system. “I hear you, and I hear the voices of our voters and of our poll workers. It was not the implementation we were hoping for. I regret that and I apologize,” Logan said. “I also accept and take seriously my responsibility for addressing these issues.”

California: How Los Angeles County’s Election Innovation Fell Short | Matt Vasilogambros/Stateline

Local election officials spent one decade and $300 million to design an innovative voting system that many experts thought was the future of elections. But at vote centers throughout the sprawling city on Super Tuesday, some Angelenos waited for more than three hours to cast their ballots. The frustration was hard to ignore as more than 100 people stretched down South Broadway around noon, queueing in front of the opulent Ace Hotel in LA’s Theatre District. Inside, there were just four working voting machines and two check-in stations. One voting machine had been broken since Saturday, but the county had not yet sent anyone to fix it. Los Angeles County is the first jurisdiction to own and design its own voting system. Officials ditched paper ballots for hybrid paper-electronic machines built for accessibility, while also allowing voters to cast their ballots in any vote center, the county’s term for a location where people can vote or drop off a ballot. With more voters than 42 states, the county could provide a template for other jurisdictions looking to develop an accessible voting system that doesn’t skimp on security. This week’s botched rollout could complicate that prospect.

California: Los Angeles County Urged to Improve Voter Experience by November Election | Nathan Solis/Courthouse News

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has asked Los Angeles County to mail out ballots to its 5.5 million voters after a disastrous rollout of the county’s $300 million voting system Tuesday in which some voters were greeted with downed computer terminals and wait times bordering on four hours. In addition to asking LA County to mail out ballots for the November election, Padilla offered other recommendations Thursday including increased equipment at vote centers as well as more staff that is better coordinated and trained. “With only eight months until the November General Election, it is critical that these issues are addressed in a timely and efficient manner,” Padilla said.The March 3 primary was the first election in which voters used LA County’s new $300 million electronic voting system. Voters should have been greeted by polling place staff with touchscreen tablets who would then direct citizens to a nearly paperless voting machine. Vote centers throughout LA County were open for 11 days before Super Tuesday and voters were not restricted to a center near their home. Unlike in previous years where more than 4,500 polling places were open throughout the county, this election saw about 1,000 open vote centers. Meanwhile, the county is one of just 14 counties participating in the Voter’s Choice Act which gives greater flexibility to local election offices for early voting, but the county does not mail every registered voter a ballot.

Editorials: California Steals Its Own Election | Wall Street Journal

Bernie Sanders supporters who complain that the Democratic primary contest is rigged may have an ironic point. Look how he was denied what might have been a bigger victory in California on Super Tuesday that would have countered Joe Biden’s Eastern U.S. rout narrative. Blame incompetent progressive government. California’s tally at our deadline Friday had Mr. Sanders with 33.6% of the statewide vote to Mr. Biden’s 25.3%. But about three million mail-in and provisional ballots still have to be counted, and the state has until April 10 to certify results. So we won’t know how many of California’s 415 delegates Mr. Sanders won for another month or so. Experts predict Mr. Sanders will win most of the uncounted ballots since young people often vote late. But the delayed results will dampen the benefit he might have gained from his California victory on Super Tuesday’s election night. Not that his friends on the left in Sacramento care. “In the state with the largest electorate in the nation, the vote count does not end on Election Night—and that’s a good thing,” declared Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Tuesday. Mr. Padilla is trying to put a positive spin on California’s voting fiasco. Lawmakers recently overhauled election procedures in the name of making it easier for young people and Hispanics to vote. Yet the result was the opposite, and Mr. Sanders is the victim.

California: The Scramble To Fix Los Angeles Voting Before November (And What Went Wrong) | Libby Denkmann/ LAist

Los Angeles County’s new voting system is supposed to make elections more accessible. But on Tuesday, many voters found casting a ballot to be anything but easy. At L.A. County’s new in-person voting locations, many people faced long wait times — sometimes in excess of three hours — caused by technical problems that marred the system’s debut. Late Tuesday, the county’s top elections official apologized. On Wednesday, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn called for an investigation. “Some hiccups are to be expected with a new system,” said Hahn in a statement, “but there were widespread reports of problems.” “These issues,” Hahn added, “need to be fixed before this November.” The snafu prompted California’s Secretary of State to issue a stern statement Thursday: “In Los Angeles County, too many voters faced unacceptably long wait times,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “Voters who waited patiently for hours deserve our praise for their commitment to democracy. Voters deserve better.” Padilla said Los Angeles County should mail a ballot to every registered voter, and address staffing, logistical, training and equipment issues that bogged down voting in the country’s largest jurisdiction on Super Tuesday.

California: Probe of Los Angeles County voting problems needed now, supervisor says | Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles County supervisor on Wednesday called for an immediate investigation into widespread voting problems Tuesday that resulted in people waiting hours to vote. Supervisor Janice Hahn said the county needed to launch a “forensic autopsy of what happened yesterday” amid widespread complaints and outrage over the handling of the new balloting system. “I’m not happy with the number of problems,” she said. Hahn pushed back when asked whether the Board of Supervisors had failed to provide oversight of the creation and rollout of the new voting system. “It was about a yearlong, at least, process of testing these machines. There were focus groups about these machines; there was a lot of reports by our county registrar recorder on rolling out. Of course, Alex Padilla, our secretary of state, certified these machines with a few conditions. I think we were all waiting for the proof, which was yesterday, and I’m not happy with the number of problems,” she said. Los Angeles County elections chief Dean Logan acknowledged the problems. “This was a challenging day for a lot of voters in L.A. County, and I certainly apologize for that. That’s something that has to be better,” he said.

California: Los Angeles County voters encounter hours-long waits and glitches with brand-new system | Los Angeles Times

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 that suggested an inauspicious beginning for L.A.’s first fully redesigned election system in more than half a century. While some Angelenos gave high marks to the new voting machines and applauded the extended hours of operation, a number of the in-person locations were overwhelmed by the throngs of voters looking to participate in the most talked-about California presidential primary in at least a generation. The flow of voters had hardly ebbed by the official end of voting at 8 p.m. Those in line at that time were allowed to stay there until they had a chance to vote. “This is absurd,” said Jefferson Stewart, a software designer who left the vote center at the Westchester Family YMCA frustrated after waiting 90 minutes to cast his ballot. “If the idea is to make this simpler, it’s gotten much worse.” Brentwood resident Myles Berkowitz found himself in a state of perpetual motion. He stopped by UCLA’s Hammer Museum around 4 p.m. but left after being told that it would be a three-hour wait. Three more locations, three more long lines. He ended up at the Felicia Mahood Multipurpose Center in West L.A. “They’re telling me, after waiting here for another hour and a half, that it’s another two hours,” Berkowitz said Tuesday evening as he stood in line. “This is like gridlock on the 405,” he said.

California: Voters say Los Angeles County’s fancy new voting machines aren’t working | Rebecca Heilweil/Vox

New voting machines making their debut on Super Tuesday in Los Angeles County are already raising concerns about unreliable technology. While the system is meant to modernize voting and make democracy more accessible, some voters are complaining about technical glitches and usability. That’s not great news, since LA represents a massive election district in the state with the most delegates up for grabs in the Democratic primary. Today, the Los Angeles Times reported that election officials were having issues with their systems linking up with California’s voter database, which meant that the registration system wasn’t tracking who had already voted or incorporating new registration information. This is a big problem, since California passed a law last year that allows for voter registration on election day in an effort to enfranchise more voters. Meanwhile, many voters have complained on Twitter that their voting machines weren’t working, with some reaching out to election officials on the platform for help. There were also complaints that the machines were not taking voters’ paper ballots, which need to be inserted back into the machine. Several people also said that the e-poll books weren’t working.

California: Presidential primary hinges on Los Angeles voting rules | John Myers and Matt Stiles/Los Angeles Times

When Los Angeles County set out to build a new voting system from scratch more than a decade ago, election officials knew the challenges in serving an electorate larger than those found in any of 39 states. But what they didn’t know was that their efforts were on a collision course with a series of statewide election changes and the most consequential presidential primary in modern California history. Should Angelenos not understand what to do or where to go, the effects could be felt both statewide and — in terms of the Democratic presidential race — across the country. “There’s a lot riding on this,” said Rick Hasen, an election law professor at UC Irvine. “Any time you’re making so many changes at once, people can lose confidence in the system.” The list of changes is long: L.A. ballots have been fully redesigned; thousands of neighborhood polling places are gone, replaced by fewer regional voting centers; and once there, millions of Angelenos will use new touch-screen devices approved by state officials just weeks ago. Voters across the county had their first experiences with the new process over the weekend. In some cases, it was not what they had hoped for — sporadic reports about miscues that election officials promised would be resolved as election day approaches.

California: Los Angeles County built its new voting machines from scratch. Will they be ready? | Kevin Monahan, Ben Popken, Rich Schapiro and Cynthia McFadden/NBC

Los Angeles County has spent the last 10 years creating what it hopes is the voting system of the future, a $300 million fleet of cutting-edge machines built from scratch. But as it prepares to roll out the new equipment for the first time when early voting in California’s Democratic primaries kicks off next week, the county is in a race against the clock to shore up critical vulnerabilities highlighted in an alarming third-party assessment. The technical report commissioned by the California secretary of state identified a wide variety of security flaws and operational issues, including insecure ballot boxes and exposed USB ports that rogue actors could exploit to alter votes. “At first reading, it’s terrifying,” said Richard DeMillo, a computer science professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology who specializes in voting security. “There are things that are clear security vulnerabilities in the system that are brushed aside.” L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan, who is in charge of the system, said the majority of the security flaws have been fixed, and the county has complied with the requirements set out by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Padilla just last month approved the system for use in the Democratic primaries so long as certain conditions are met.

California: Los Angeles County’s Seismic Voting Shift | Gabrielle Gurley/The American Prospect

Election officials’ decision-making will come under greater public scrutiny after the Iowa caucus debacle—especially in Los Angeles County, home to ten million residents and five million registered voters, the largest voting jurisdiction in the country. On March 3—Super Tuesday—some Angelenos will surely go to their neighborhood polling place where they’ve been casting their votes for decades, only to find no signs of life. What to do—call City Hall? The police? Give up and head to work? Beginning with the March 3 election, California is instituting an epochal shift in the way its residents vote, debuting in 15 of the state’s 58 counties, of which L.A. is the big one. For this crucial presidential primary, voters in Los Angeles can use approximately 1,000 centralized vote centers rather than the roughly 5,000 precinct polling places where Angelenos have been accustomed to voting. Unlike those precinct polling places, however, which were open only on Election Day, the new voting centers will be open for voting for many days: Most of them will be in operation not just on Election Day but also on the ten days preceding it, while the rest will be open on Election Day and the four days before. What’s more, L.A. County voters can drop in and vote at any one of the centers. (Besides, this year as in many past elections, more than half of California voters will cast their votes by mail.)

California: Los Angeles County voters will use new ballot system for March 3 primary, despite lawsuit filed by Beverly Hills | Hayley Munguia/ Press Telegram

Los Angeles County voters have some big decisions to make March 3: Everything from city council seats to the state’s pick for the Democratic presidential nominee will be up for grabs. Even the state’s clout nationally could change, now that California’s election is on Super Tuesday. But in-person voters will also notice another change: Casting a ballot will be, for the most part, easier than ever before. Or at least that’s what officials have tried to achieve. A new touchscreen device will replace the old InkaVote system, which was essentially a paper ballot. The new technology includes the ability to display the ballot in 13 different languages — critical given the county’s diverse population — and adjust the text size and contrast. It also offers the option to use an audio headset and control pad for people who are visually impaired. Along with the new devices, L.A. County has switched from neighborhood polling places to vote centers, where any voter, regardless of his or her address, can cast a ballot. There will also be an 11-day window when people can vote, which begins Feb. 22 and ends on Election Day — and includes two weekends.

California: Long Beach’s District 1 special election at the center of lawsuit over Los Angeles County’s new voting systems | Hayley Munguia /Press Telegram

Long Beach’s most recent election is at the center of a lawsuit against Los Angeles County over new voting machines that will go into widespread use during the March 3 elections. Beverly Hills filed a complaint last week against the county, arguing the new voting technology — known as Voting Solutions for All People 2.0 — could impact the results of an election with more than four candidates. The new machines have been in the works for more than a decade and are intended to make voting more accessible. They can display the ballot in 13 languages, and voters who are visually impaired can use an audio headset. But the lawsuit centers on a different aspect of the design: The “more” button that voters must press to see beyond the first screen of candidates, which only includes four names. Voters do not need to scroll through the entire list of candidates before selecting one. The Beverly Hills lawsuit, filed Wednesday, Jan. 22, argues that people may simply pick one of the first four names they see and move on without pressing the “more” button to reveal the rest of the candidates. That city’s evidence? The special election Long Beach held in November to pick District 1’s next representative on the City Council.

California: State OKs Los Angeles County’s New Voting Machines — With A Whole Lot Of Caveats (Backup Paper Ballots, For One)| Libby Denkman/LAist

The state of California has given Los Angeles County’s new voting equipment its seal of approval — with some significant caveats. On Friday, Secretary of State Alex Padilla granted conditional certification to the Voting Solutions for All People 2.0 system, including new ‘ballot marking devices’ that the county designed and built from the ground up. It’s making history as the first publicly owned voting system in the U.S. to be certified for widespread use. But the county must meet a stack of requirements before primary election voters get their hands on the machines starting Feb. 22. “Elections officials have a duty to make voting both as secure and as accessible as possible,” Padilla said in a press release. “As part of my certification of VSAP, I am insisting on some essential modifications to the system and requiring on-going reports from Los Angeles County so that we can continue to improve the voting experience for Angelenos.”

California: State OKs highly questioned Los Angeles County voting system | Frank Bajak/Associate Press

California’s secretary of state on Friday approved Los Angeles County’s new publicly owned computerized voting system — a first of its kind for the nation — but is requiring modifications to address serious security and technical problems identified in testing. Secretary of State Alex Padilla is also requiring that all polling stations offer voters the option of using hand-marked paper ballots in the March 3 presidential primary in the nation’s most populous county. His office also notes in a statement on its conditional certification that an estimated 63% of county voters will be voting by mail using hand-marked paper ballots during the primary. Election security experts says all U.S. voters, unless hindered by disabilities, should use hand-marked paper ballots that are available for audits and recounts. Instead, only about 70% do, and elections in the U.S. are dominated by t hree voting equipment and services companies that control nearly 90 percent of the market. Their black-box touchscreen systems have been widely criticized by computer scientists as highly vulnerable to tampering. A subsidiary of one of those companies, Election Systems and Software of Omaha, Nebraska, was blamed by an outside audit for sloppy system integration that left 118,000 names off printed voter roles in Los Angeles County during the 2018 primary.

California: Lawsuit claims new Los Angeles County voting machines could favor some candidates | Jason Ruiz/Long Beach Post News

A lawsuit filed Thursday by the City of Beverly Hills alleges that the machines to tabulate votes that are being deployed by Los Angeles County for the upcoming March 3 elections could give some candidates an unfair advantage. In a statement the city said that the issue is that only four candidates can be displayed at one time on the screens and that the confusion between the “More” and “Next” buttons could lead to those not listed on the first page being overlooked by voters. Potential for the city’s suit was first reported by LAist, which earlier this month reported the Beverly Hills City Council was considering the action after it received a preview of the machines and noticed the potential for confusion. One of its incumbent members is listed fifth on the ballot, which means he would appear on the second screen and potentially be skipped over by voters. The county is using VSAP (Voting Solutions for All People) machines for the first time during the March elections, but have rolled them out for demonstrations in the past few months including at November’s California Democratic Party Endorsing Convention hosted in Long Beach. Voters can use the machines to electronically mark selections, with the machine printing out a paper version of their votes to be turned into county officials. The machines have yet to be certified by state election officials.

California: Los Angeles County’s New Voting System Is Still Uncertified. Why Election Security Experts Are Worried | Libby Denkman/LAist

Los Angeles County is moving full steam ahead with plans to use its new election equipment for the first time in the upcoming presidential primary. The system, which includes high-tech “ballot marking devices,” has the potential to revolutionize the election industry, creating a transparent and fully accessible way to vote. But for all its innovations, some experts in the voting security community worry it’s not ready for prime time. For starters, the state has yet to sign off on the new technology — and it’s coming down to the wire: In-person voting begins in six weeks, on Feb. 22.

Certification testing has uncovered:

  • Dozens of critical user interface and security problems, according to recent published reports and conversations with experts.
  • The Secretary of State found vulnerabilities that left the door open to bad actors changing voting data and, ultimately, the outcome of an election.
  • Testers could also access and alter electronic records and get into physical ballot boxes — all without detection.

Some candidates for local offices are so disturbed by how ballots appear on the machines that cities like Beverly Hills are exploring lawsuits. But Dean Logan, the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder, says his office has worked hard to address and mitigate all concerns. The issues with the actual voting system come at the same time L.A. County is fundamentally changing not just how but where people vote. Many observers are concerned that shift in voting location alone will lead to widespread confusion.

California: Cities worried about new Los Angeles County voting system | Ian Bradley/The Acorn

In the March election Los Angeles County will launch a new method of computerized voting to replace the system that citizens have used for more than 50 years, but some officials are saying the new method has shortcomings and isn’t fair to all candidates on the ballot. The Los Angeles County registrar began rolling out the new program, Voting Solutions for All People, last year. The program replaces paper-and-pen ballots with a new digital interface that voters will use to make their selections. County officials say the change will make voting easy, accurate and fast. But critics say the system gives unfair advantage to certain candidates because only four names are displayed on the first page of a given race unless a “MORE” button is hit and a second screen loads up with the remaining candidates. Several cities are concerned about the on-screen layout issue including Beverly Hills and Calabasas. Both sent letters to the county voicing their objections. Calabasas City Councilmember James Bozajian said the problem is that in local races where victory can be decided by a handful of votes, a litigious candidate could argue that not being on the first screen kept them from winning.

California: Beverly Hills City Council Might Sue Over Los Angeles County’s New Voting Machine Design | Libby Denkman/LAist

The Beverly Hills City Council has voted to move ahead with a possible lawsuit against election officials responsible for the new Los Angeles County voting equipment which will debut in the March 3 primary. The new machines are digital, and there are concerns that voters will vote without seeing all the candidates. Already there are huge changes in store for Angelenos voting in-person when vote centers start opening Feb. 22 — from where and when to vote to a new, high-tech way to cast a ballot. Electronic ballot marking devices developed by Los Angeles County will be the default option in all 1,000 new vote centers, replacing the familiar old InkaVote System. The new devices include touch screens to mark voter selections, which are then printed onto a paper ballot that will be collected and tallied by election officials. Now, with voting fast approaching, local governments and campaigns are familiarizing themselves with the new system. And many don’t like what they see.

California: Los Angeles County Offering New Ballot Casting Process For Voters in 2020 | R.J. Johnson /KFI

Los Angeles County’s antiquated voting system is getting a badly needed upgrade in time for the upcoming 2020 elections. Starting next year, more than 5.2 million residents will have the chance to use the Voting Solutions for All People, or VSAP, which aims to make voting for residents easier, more secure and transparent. The new Ballot Marking Devices were designed by the Registar-Recorder/County Clerk in response to the aging system and meant to make it easier for voters to to customize their voting experience to fit their needs. Voters will be able to access 13 languages, adjust the touch screen to a comfortable angle, change the display settings such as text size and contrast or go through the ballot using the audio headset and control pad. Rest assured, the Ballot Marking Device is NOT connected to any kind of a network or the internet. If you’re not as technically-savvy as others, don’t worry, the easy-to-follow instructions guide voters through the voting process without any need for assistance.

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.

California: New Los Angeles County voting system highlights trade offs between security and accessibility | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Starting in 2020, Los Angeles County’s 5.2 million voters will cast their ballots on new machines that the county had custom built over a decade to be highly accessible to citizens with all manner of disabilities and who speak 13 different languages. The new machines mark the biggest challenge in years to the highly consolidated voting machine industry in the United States in which just three companies control more than 90 percent of the market. The dominant players have faced withering criticism from security advocates and lawmakers since the 2016 election for being too slow to adapt to election hacking threats from Russia and other adversaries and not transparent enough about their security. The plan is for the machines to be piloted at some voting locations during local elections in November and then to be used by all voters for the first time in the March 3, 2020 primaries. The challenge is even bigger because Los Angeles plans to make the computer code its machines are running on freely available to be used or modified by other voting jurisdictions who similarly want to go it alone. But the new systems are also likely to add fire to a battle between cybersecurity hawks and advocates for voters with disabilities that’s already playing out in Congress and among state election boards.

California: Has Los Angeles County just reinvented voting? | NBC

The biggest voting district in the United States came up with an audacious answer to the growing national problem of aging, malfunctioning and hackable voting machines. It decided to build its own. Los Angeles County, which has more registered voters than 42 states, gave NBC News an exclusive national broadcast look at what may be the future of voting systems. The county’s 5.2 million registered voters will give the new system a test run in real time during California’s presidential primary next March. Built with open-source technology over 10 years for $100 million, and combined with a rethink of the voting process that lets locals cast ballots over 11 days instead of 13 hours, L.A. County officials believe their new machines will cut down on mechanical breakdowns and crowding and provide sophisticated protections against hacking. “We thought, ‘We can’t wait any longer,'” said the man in charge of the new system, L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan.