Los Angeles Times - 04.03.2020

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UCLA’s Hammer Museum
around 4 p.m. but left after
being told that it would be a
three-hour wait. Three more
locations, three more long
lines. He ended up at the Fe-
licia Mahood Multipurpose
Center in West L.A.
“They’re telling me, after
waiting here for another
hour and a half, that it’s an-
other two hours,” Berkowitz
said Tuesday evening as he
stood in line. “This is like
gridlock on the 405.”
Local voting officials
blamed the delays on a com-
bination of high turnout and
glitches affecting the new
election equipment. But
they couldn’t provide infor-
mation on how many of the
county’s 978 vote centers
were affected. Official re-
turns trickled in as the night
wore on.
“This was a challenging
day for a lot of voters in L.A.
County and I certainly apol-
ogize for that,” said Dean
Logan, the county’s regis-
trar of voters. “That’s some-
thing that has to be better.”
Voters were quick to
sound off on social media
about the blunders: loca-
tions that didn’t open on
time or were hard to find;
ballot-marking devices that
jammed or otherwise failed
to operate; and electronic
voter registration devices
that didn’t work, requiring
them to cast provisional bal-
lots to be counted after eligi-
bility is confirmed by elec-
tion workers.
By the time Arcadia resi-
dent Omar Noureldin left
the vote center at the Ace
Hotel in downtown Los An-
geles on Tuesday morning,
the queue of people waiting
to cast ballots stretched out
the door.
“Those people that are in
line around the corner are
probably going to be there
for three hours — if they
wait,” he said.
Noureldin used an elec-
tion shortcut offered under
the new system: Ballot selec-
tions could be filled out on a
smartphone ahead of time
and transferred to the
touchscreen machines with
a QR code.
The biggest issue he ex-
perienced, he said, was the
lack of staff and voting
machines at the center.
Election day ended up as
the ultimate stress test for
the county’s new $300-mil-
lion voting system. L.A. offi-
cials spent months trying to
raise awareness about two
big changes: the elimination
of neighborhood polling
places and the debut of bal-
lot-marking touchscreen de-
vices in regional vote cen-
ters, available to everyone
and spread throughout the
The task was daunting.
With 5.5 million voters, L.A.
County is the largest voting
bloc in California and larger
than the electorate in all but
11 states. Voters seemed to
like the new devices when
they worked. The machine
allows choices to be made on

a touchscreen and then
prints a paper ballot.
Once selections are re-
viewed, a voter feeds the bal-
lot back into the machine
where it’s deposited in a
sealed ballot box. Some
22,000 machines were de-
ployed across L.A. County.
Elections officials did not
say how many machines
failed and were taken out of
Representatives of Ver-
mont Sen. Bernie Sanders’
presidential campaign at-
tempted to get a federal
court to intervene to force
L.A.’s vote centers to stay

open until 10 p.m.
Voters reported mach-
ines out of service at vote
centers in Arcadia, L.A.’s
Carthay Square, Los Feliz
and Rancho Palos Verdes. A
full day of problems plagued
voting inside the Hammer
Museum. By nightfall, a line
snaked around the second
floor as voters fiddled with
phones, read books and
propped up computers to do
homework. By around 8:
p.m., the last person in line
had been told the wait would
be up to three and a half
“I always go to a place late

on election day,” Sandra
Kielgass said. “I guess it’s a
good thing it’s so crowded.
People are voting.”
Waits of nearly two hours
were reported at USC. Sarah
Wagner, a 21-year-old stu-
dent, was frustrated that
poll workers didn’t tell her
about nearby voting centers
that had shorter waits until
she was at the front of the
“You’d hope that voting
would be a quick and easy
experience to encourage
young people to vote,” Wag-
ner said.
USC researchers queried

L.A. voters last month about
the new voting system: Only
38% of respondents knew of
its existence.
Among those who didn’t
know were Antonieta Es-
pinoza, who stood outside a
Catholic church in Palmdale
on Tuesday, where she had
just cast her vote.
“Más trabajo y bien com-
plicado,” the 80-year-old
Palmdale resident said, ex-
plaining that she wasn’t a
fan of the new voting system,
which she found harder and
more complicated to use.
Espinoza said she and
her husband arrived at the
elementary school near
their home — their tradi-
tional go-to polling place —
and found closed doors.
They headed to St. Mary’s
Catholic Church, where af-
ter more than an hour of ad-
justing to the new system,
Espinoza finally finished
Other voters reported
paper jams in the new mach-
ines and confusion over
pressing the “more” button
on the screen to view addi-
tional candidates in some
Ken Proctor, a retired
teacher, said election work-
ers at his Northridge polling
place last weekend couldn’t
tell him what to do with his
paper ballot after the mach-
ine printed it — even though
it needed to be reinserted
into the machine.
“When it printed out, I
was looking for a ballot box
to put it in and they didn’t
have one and they didn’t
know what else to do with it,”

he said. “And they said just
to keep it, so I did and
brought it home.” Proctor
said his wife shredded the
“I think we both were
kind of disenfranchised,” he
Not all of the challenges
in California’s closely
watched election were con-
fined to Los Angeles.
State elections officials
reported that 15 counties ex-
perienced problems with
connecting to California’s
statewide voter database.
Los Angeles was not re-
ported to be one of the coun-
The lack of connectivity
at vote centers also posed a
problem for one of Califor-
nia’s most talked-about
election changes: election
day registration, designed
to ensure that any eligible
citizen can vote before polls
Attorney Robert Little
tried to vote Tuesday after-
noon at Beverly Hills City
Hall when, seeing a long line,
he then searched for an al-
ternative. He found the Bev-
erly Hilton and it too looked
like a long wait, so he de-
cided to put it off until later.
“It was not unlike the
Southern California experi-
ence of trying to get on
Space Mountain at Disney-
land on the Fourth of July,”
Little said.

Times staff writers Marisa
Gerber, Emily Alpert Reyes,
Dakota Smith and
Benjamin Oreskes
contributed to this report.

New system brings hours-long waits

HUNDREDSof students queue up to vote Tuesday at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, where waits sometimes stretched to three hours. Dean
Logan, registrar of voters for L.A. County, acknowledged the system’s missteps. “That’s something that has to be better,” he says.

Photographs byAl SeibAl Seib/Los Angeles Times

[Glitches,from A1]

THRONGSof voters at the Hammer Museum. While some Angelenos gave high
marks to the county’s new voting machines, several locations were overwhelmed.

Democratic Assembly-
woman Christy Smith of
Santa Clarita and Republi-
can defense contractor Mike
Garcia were in a tight race
Tuesday night to succeed
Rep. Katie Hill in one of Cali-
fornia’s most competitive
congressional districts, ac-
cording to partial election
Former Rep. Steve
Knight, the Republican who
was ousted in 2018 by Hill, a
Democrat, was running
third, on the verge of losing
his shot at recapturing his
seat representing the north-
ern suburbs of Los Angeles.
The primary appeared
likely to yield two runoffs be-
tween Smith and Garcia, a
former Navy pilot — one in
May to fill Hill’s seat for the
rest of the year and another
in November for the full two-
year term.
Trailing far behind were
Cenk Uygur, host of the libe-
ral talk show “The Young
Turks”; George Papadopou-
los, a 2016 Trump campaign

advisor who pleaded guilty
to lying to the FBI in the
Russia scandal; and more
than half a dozen others.
Smith was the candidate
favored by House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi and many
other Democratic luminar-
ies, and Knight was backed
by the House Republican
The 25th Congressional
District covers Simi Valley,
Porter Ranch, Santa Clarita,
Palmdale and part of Lan-
A former Republican
stronghold, it has become a
toss-up in recent years as
the population has grown
and diversified, due largely
to an influx of people seeking
affordable housing on the far
outskirts of L.A.
Hill stepped down in No-
vember amid accusations
that she’d had affairs with
congressional and cam-
paign staff members. The
conservative RedState web-
site and a British tabloid
published nude photos of
Hill, who said she feared the
“appalling invasion” of pri-
vacy would worsen if she re-
mained in Congress.
Hill’s downfall came a
year after she unseated
Knight in the 2018 midterm
election that gave Demo-
crats control of the House in
a nationwide suburban

revolt against President
Trump and his Republicans
allies in Congress.
Hill was one of seven
Democrats to capture seats
previously held by Republi-
cans in California. At least
three of the others face
tough fights in November to
retain their seats.
In the Central Valley’s
21st Congressional District,
Democratic Rep. T.J. Cox
was running far behind

David Valadao — the Repub-
lican he unseated in 2018. In
California congressional
races, the candidates who
finish first and second in the
primary face off in the No-
vember general election re-
gardless of party.
In Orange County,
Democratic Rep. Harley
Rouda of Laguna Beach was
in a tight primary race in the
48th Congressional District
against a well-funded Re-

publican, Orange County
Supervisor Michelle Steel.
They will compete in a No-
vember runoff.
And in the 39th Congres-
sional District, another
Democratic freshman, Rep.
Gil Cisneros of Yorba Linda,
was finishing well behind
Republican Young Kim, the
former state assemblywom-
an he defeated in 2018. They
too will face off in November.
In a state that has turned

strongly against the GOP,
Republicans now hold just
six of the state’s 53 House
seats. They won seven in
2018, but former GOP Rep.
Duncan Hunter resigned in
January after pleading
guilty to a felony in a cam-
paign money scandal.
Hunter’s seat in the Re-
publican-leaning 50th Con-
gressional District, strad-
dling San Diego and Riv-
erside counties, will be va-
cant until voters choose his
successor in November; his
resignation came too late for
an election to complete his
term to be placed on the
March 3 ballot.
The best-known Repub-
lican vying Tuesday to re-
place Hunter was former
Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista. In
the initial primary results,
Issa was running behind
Ammar Campa-Najjar, the
Democrat who lost to Hunt-
er in 2018 even as the
congressman was under in-
dictment. Issa was battling
fellow Republican Carl
DeMaio, a former San Diego
city councilman, to reach the
general election contest
against Campa-Najjar.
The runoff to replace Hill
for the rest of the year is
scheduled to take place May

  1. The one for the two-year
    term starting in January will
    be on Nov. 3.

Race to replace Rep. Katie Hill to go on and on

Freshman Democratic

incumbents in other

House contests face

tough fights.

By Michael Finnegan

REPUBLICANdefense contractor Mike Garcia, above, and Democratic Assem-
blywoman Christy Smith are vying to succeed former Rep. Katie Hill.

Michael BloodAssociated Press
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