LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County announced Friday that it would make changes to the way residents vote in November in an effort to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 and address widespread issues experienced during the March primary.
For the November election, all registered voters will receive vote-by-mail ballots, though the county said voting centers were still expected to be open for in-person voting.
Officials said voting centers would be large enough to accommodate social distancing and more electronic poll books would be available at each location with new streamlined voter look-up features.
Voters will also be given access to new tools to track wait times at various centers to identify locations with shorter lines.
The changes were announced one week after an independent review of the March primary election was released.
The report found a range of problems including software breakdowns, lack of trained staff and insufficient oversight of outside vendors contributed to long lines of voters who waited to cast their ballots hours after the polls had closed.
The March primary was the first election that used the Voting Solutions for All People system, developed over the course of a decade and described as a “highly ambitious project that dramatically changed the experience of voting in the nation’s most populous county.”
The system relied on touch-screen voting and a shift from neighborhood polling places to a smaller number of larger vote centers. Voters were allowed to cast ballots at any center and the voting period was extended to 11 days, though most voters waited until Election Day to cast their ballots.
And while the new system received high marks from a majority of voters who cast ballots, according to the company that conducted the review, the technology used for checking in voters frequently froze.
“Design and testing issues with the voter check-in technology caused the system to freeze frequently, resulting in long delays and bottlenecks during check-in at vote centers,” the report found.
As a result, election workers had to provide provisional ballots to many voters, an extra step that required those counting the votes to validate them.
The report also found that there were also shortages of electronic poll books and poll workers and insufficient staff and technology to respond to the heavy demand by poll workers for technical assistance.
“With improved vote center staffing approaches and training, increased technology capacity, more effective communications and outreach and stronger vendor management, Los Angeles County can enhance the voter experience and election systems for November 2020 and beyond,” the report concluded.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)