LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office is promising changes after a David Goldstein investigation last year criticized their new election machines.

The report put the blame on the electronic poll books that are used to check in voters. But critics say the entire system can be faulted with the presidential election five months away.

The trouble in March led to long lines at the polls and questions about the Registrar’s computerized machines, which cost taxpayers $330 million.

The report ordered by the Board of Supervisors found longer wait times primarily resulted from technical issues with the electronic poll books that are used to check-in voters and issues synchronizing data with the voter database.

It put less blame on the actual voting machines, but found more than 5% had to be taken out of service because they had failed.

Radio talk show host Brad Friedman, a critic of electronic machines, said, “It doesn’t really matter which computer failed if people can’t vote. That’s what happened March third and I suspect that will happen on November third.”

L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan said, “We are heads down, all hands on deck working…to address the action plans in our report.” More poll books will be added in November and technical issues will be addressed.

But Friedman says it’s still an experimental machine that’s prone to problems.

“It’s kind of insane,” he said. “We’re going to use the voters of LA County as guinea pigs in a beta test for a system that should have never been used in the first place.”

Comments (2)
  1. hopkinsph says:

    There were fundamentally two problems with the new system. First, the electronic poll books did not allow (or the poll workers were not trained how to) look up votes by multiple fields. That meant if voters had a common last name and a common first name, the poll workers went scrolling through hundreds or even thousands of similar names to identify the person standing in front of them. If the system would allow poll workers to use multiple fields, then the Julio Hernandez from Pacoima who lives on Cayuga Street would not be confused with the thousands of other residents of Los Angeles County named Julio Hernandez. The other basic problem was the completely predictable crush of voters on the final day of voting. Vote centers were open in many cases about 11 days before “Election Day,” but the County and the news media did next to nothing about changing the behavior of voters to cast their ballots while the voting centers were open and largely empty prior to the “Day.” Look, change is hard. But the solution is to look at the root causes and address them directly.

  2. David Steele says:

    The only fundamental problem was the fact that some people did not get the opportunity to exercise their right to vote–at least not without undue hardship. If people can’t even vote because of technical issues then its time to rethink technology and put our priorities with the voters and not with factions of county apparatchiks and private companies with voting machines and poll books to sell to what seems like hopelessly ignorant county officials.

    Aside from the unnecessary issues we encounter with electronic voting devices concerning power failures, software glitches, “operator error,” and all forms of hacking, $300,000,000 dollars for the L.A. County electorate to wonder whether their vote did not somehow change or disappear inside machines with proprietary software, and with a paper trail that constitutes only a receipt that cannot possibly used for post-election audits, can’t be a good deal to anyone.

    This ridiculously expensive countywide system of clunky, opaque automation is a stupid, embarrassing joke on all of us here in Los Angeles County and it’s not funny. It’s even less funny when we know perfectly well with the way we’ve been doing it for decades, we could have had this all done in a couple of weeks sans all the disenfranchisement, and there would be no crashing pencils and no paper failures.

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