LOS ANGELES – The implementation of the touch-screen voting system dubbed Voting Solutions for All People was a well-intentioned effort to replace the county’s five-decade-old process of collecting and tabulating ballots. But in practice during Tuesday’s primary election, the combination of an overwhelming number of voters, difficulties with the electronic voter-check-in system and the questionable placement of the vote centers themselves led to dramatically long waits, some of which continued close to midnight — four hours after the polls had technically closed.
Under state law, anyone who was in line at the poll-closing time of 8 p.m. is allowed to vote.
But long lines had already formed at some of the roughly 1,000 vote center locations by mid-afternoon. So bad was the problem that Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ campaign went to federal court seeking an order requiring the polls to remain open to voters who arrived at voting locations as late as 10 p.m.
The order was not granted, but even with the 8 p.m. closing time, lines persisted into the night.
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan went before a bank of television cameras Tuesday evening and publicly apologized to voters for the delays, saying, “there’s a lot to be learned” from the experience.
Logan said the main problem at polling places was the electronic check-in system, which is used to ensure voters only cast one ballot at one location. He said once people got beyond that check-in, the actual voting system worked smoothly.
He also said the county was unprepared for the low number of voters who took advantage of the availability of early voting at the vote centers, which opened 10 days prior to the election. Only about 250,000 people voted early at the centers.
“I think that we perhaps overestimated how many of those voters would take advantage of the 10-day early voting period and that resulted in a significant amount of voters turning out on election day,” Logan said.
The roughly 1,000 vote centers that were open on election day was a dramatic reduction from the roughly 4,000 precincts that were offered during previous elections.