Someone In L.A. County Election Bureaucracy Fired De Facto Whistleblower Who Alerted LBREPORT.com To Early Voting Snafu At LB Location; Supervisor Hahn Calls For Investigation Into "Unacceptable" Delays At County Voting Centers
|(March 4, 2020, 5:30 p.m.) -- LBREPORT.com has learned that a de facto whistleblower -- an election clerk at the Long Beach "early voting" center at 785 Junipero Ave. who alerted LBREPORT.com to lack of equipment needed to open the center to voters on Feb. 22 (the first day of the early voting period) -- was fired a day after LBREPORT.com reported the story at this link.
Mary Lou Cook told us she's worked at LB polling places for roughly 25 years. She agreed to let us use her name in reporting the story on Feb. 22. Three days later, she said she was fired.
In the category of no good deed goes unpunished or there's no freedom of speech in the US anymore, I was fired as an election clerk on Sunday for revealing to you [to LBREPORT.com] that our polling place wasn't open, that the equipment was not at the polling place, for a long while no County assistance was available and no one could vote at the venue until 4 o'clock.
Ms. Cook told us on Feb. 22 that she was among those ready to serve at the County's Early Voting location at 785 Junipero Ave. but none of the necessary equipment hadn't been delivered, including new computer terminal style electronic voting devices, accompanying blank ballot forms and other needed items. LBREPORT.com brought the issue to the attention of the L.A. County Registrar's public information officer who acknowledged some similar problems at some other locations (didn't indicate where or how many) but said they were being rectified. Ms. Cook later texted that equipment arrived about 1:30 p.m. but without necessary technical support, which came later in the afternoon.
Ms.Cook says she has no opinion one way or the other on the new voting system, but just wants voters "to have a succesful voting experience."
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The Junipero Ave. location (Light of the World Church) was one of several in LB (including Cabrillo High, Carmelitos Community Center, Cesar Chavez Park, Grace United Methodist Church (2325 E. 3rd St.), Pan American Park and Powell Academy for Success We were unable to learn if any of those locations were similarly affected. Ms. Cook described the 785 Junipero site (chosen by County election officials) as roughly 20 feet by 20 feet to accommodate 30 workers plus Equipment and voters.
On March 4, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn called for an investigation into lengthy delays and long lines at multiple L.A. County voting centers, calling what took place "unacceptable." "The hours-long wait times that some voters experienced yesterday are unacceptable. Today I am calling for a complete investigation into what was behind the long lines so that this does not happen again this November," Supervisor Hahn said in a Facebook dispatch..
LBREPORT.com observed a line of over 100 people on Tuesday March 3 at roughly 5:30 p.m. waiting to enter the County voting center in El Dorado Park. We encountered a similar situation at LBCC's ELB location (Carson St./Clark Ave.) with nearly 100 people in line at 6:20 p.m. At roughly 7:00 p.m., over half of the LBCC location's electronic voting machines stood unused while voters stood outside in line. When asked about this, a poll worker told us that over half of the check-in terminals that election center workers had to use to connect to L.A. County voter records didn't work, preventing workers from checking-in voters more rapidly.
It's not the only issue LB voters have encountered since the City Council chose to have L.A. County run LB's elections (instead of LB's City Clerk's office.)
On Feb. 15, LRBEPORT.com reported here that the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's office (RRCC) had sent some LB voters sample ballot materials containing pro-con arguments on a City Hall-sought Measure A sales tax and City Council candidate statements in three Council districts sometimes weeks after sending voters the vote by mail ballots. LBREPORT.com also learned that the County also used a mailing procedure with timing based in part on a voter's political party preference.
Some residents said L.A. County's procedure tiled the election toward those with sizable financial resources who were able to send costly mailers communicating their views while opponents -- who'd paid for inclusion in the County-mailed sample ballot pamphlet -- waited for sometimes lengthy periods before official sample ballots arrived with both sides of the question. By that time, some voters had likely voted, critics said. Some noted on social media that Orange County doesn't follow L.A. County's practice, and instead sends the vote by mail ballots and sample ballots with pro-con positions at close to the same time.
LBREPORT.com's understanding is that LB's City Clerk's office could still run LB elections (assuming there's no contractual obligation now with the County to the contrary) notwithstanding Sacramento's SB 415 (that required changing LB's elections from April/June to March/November) but it would likely require Council approval of some possibly costly changes.
The Council would have to either purchase or rent or somehow acquire for use new election equipment because the City's former election equipment is no longer certified as legally appropriate. That would entail a currently unknown cost. The City would also have to coordinate with the County on polling place locations (because City and County/state/federal elections DO have to occur at the same scheduled times under SB 415.) And the election would also likely require using a second set of ballots, an experience LB voters in the past ("two vote Tuesday") when the City and the County both conducted coinciding elections.
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