Last week at the Ronald Reagan State Building in Downtown Los Angeles, members of the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee, the Senate Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee, and the Senate Select Committee on Integrity of Elections, invited the community to participate in a joint informational hearing where the Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, and the Acting Registrar-Recorder/ County Clerk of Los Angeles County, Dean Logan, addressed problems with the February Presidential Primary Election where thousands of votes were apparently not counted.
State Assembly Member Curren Price as well as Senator, and current 2nd District Supervisor Candidate, Mark Ridley-Thomas, were on-hand to moderate the testimony by the election officials and the relatively small group of citizens who offered remarks about the specific irregularities they experienced.
Price and Ridley-Thomas had similar comments related to the importance of making the vote of every Californian count. As representatives of the California Assembly and Senate, it may be anticipated that they will each take the information and input from the Joint Hearing to their respective legislative colleagues.
In the recent primary election that attracted a phenomenal 55 percent voter turnout, a number that, according to Logan, “far exceeded participation in any primary election in recent history,” the problem was that 20 percent o f the 226,081 non-partisan ballots, a little more than 10 percent of the total of 2.1 million votes cast, were not counted.
Though our elected officials acknowledged the overwhelming turnout in an election that required 28,000 volunteer poll workers to staff more than 4,300 county polling locations, Price and Ridley-Thomas agreed that the single most important opportunity for citizens to participate in the public policy process is through their vote and it was important to hear from those responsible for election planning and execution and from the voters whose vote was not counted.
Logan reported. “The biggest challenge in this election related to the instructions and ballot layout provided to allow decline-to-state or nonpartisan voters the option of crossing over and voting in the Democratic or American Independent party Presidential contests.”
He further indicated that despite good intentions on the part of ill-trained poll workers and improperly informed voters, “the process fell short of facilitating a successful and positive voting experience for many.”
As the election administrator, Logan took full responsibility for the lack of training, the poorly informed voters and the fact that thousands of votes were not counted. He vowed to implement appropriate corrective action measures to ensure that the problem of uncounted votes does not happen again.
Moving forward he promised to not only revamp poll worker training programs but also said, “it is abundantly clear that we need to eliminate the double-bubble ballot layout and replace it with a cross over voting process that does not require voters to take an additional step to make sure their voters are counted.