LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Reacting to the hours-long waits at some voting centers on Super Tuesday, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla Thursday called on Los Angeles County to automatically send mail-in ballots to every voter in the county ahead of November’s general election.
Padilla said that 15 counties, including Los Angeles County, conducted their elections under the Voters Choice Act. The only difference was that all other counties sent vote-by-mail ballots to all voters ahead of the elections and offered multiple options to return those ballots.
“I am calling on Los Angeles County to mail every registered voter a ballot for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election in addition to improving the performance of vote centers,” he said. “This would be a first, but important, step in better meeting the needs of the largest, most diverse voting jurisdiction in the nation.”
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said the idea would have to undergo a cost analysis before being implemented.
“A proposal to mail ballots to an estimated 2 million voters who have not previously voted by or requested a vote-by-mail ballot must include an evaluation of the costs, contractual authority, capacity and reliability of the providers and systems needed to meet legally required timelines for vote by mail, sample ballots and other required election notices,” he said.
Logan said “more is required” before the county can make the determination to move to automatic mail-in ballots for all voters. He also said the county needed to increase awareness of the availability of early voting under the new system and the benefits of interactive sample ballots.
He also noted that expanding vote-by-mail distribution would not address the issues of voters wanting to take advantage of the newly offered same-day registration.
This was the county’s first election under the new system, in which about 1,000 vote centers were placed around the county and were open for 11 days — allowing voters to cast their ballots at any location — though long waits of up to five hours were reported Tuesday.
Logan previously attributed the problem to a variety of factors, most notably an over-estimation of how many voters would take advantage of early voting opportunities. He also said that there were technical issues with the electronic check-in system at the vote centers.
But Padilla said the county needed to re-evaluate the locations of the voting centers.
Logan said his office would be conducting a thorough assessment of what went wrong in Tuesday’s primary.
“Tuesday’s primary provides a wealth of data that did not exist prior to the election,” he said. “It is incumbent upon us to evaluate and use that data in developing holistic solutions that address the complexity and diversity of our electorate. That process must be deliberative, collaborative and cautious of shifts that otherwise may not fully address the root causes that led to long lines and wait times for voting on Tuesday.”