Weeks Ago, L.A. County Election Bureaucrats Quietly Decided To Change A 1st Council Dist. Polling Place Location But Didn't Tell LB's City Clerk Or LB Voters Until A Few Days Before Election; Yes, LB's City Council CAN Choose To Have LB's City Clerk Run LB's Elections Again, But...
|(Nov. 5, 2019, 4:10 p.m.) -- Elliot Gonzales, a candidate in LB's 1st Council district election ("election day" is Nov. 5) blew the whistle and broke the story on Facebook on Nov. 4 when he and his campaign consultant confirmed that L.A. County election officials had quietly roughly three weeks ago to change the location of one of five 1st Council district polling places. They moved it from Washington Middle School (1450 Cedar Ave) to the LB Rescue Mission (1335 Pacific Ave.)
On Nov. 4, Gonzales campaign consultant Jeff Nelson provided LBREPORT.com with these points he said an L.A. County election official told him:
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On Nov. 5 in roughly the 2 p.m. hour, Gonzales campaign consultant Nelson said he went to the now-former Washington Middle School polling place location and reported on Facebook:
I just went by the Washington Middle School to check to see if there were poll workers from the county, as I had been assured there would be, assisting people who were not aware that their polling place had been changed at the last minute and that the official government polling locator app had not been updated, and there was a woman there pulling on the doors, trying to get in, who did not realize that the polling place had been changed.
It's not immediately known (and may be unknowable) to what extent if all any of this numerically affected the election outcome. In the special election, at least as many, if not more, "vote-by-mail" ballots may end up being cast as polling place ballots. (Vote by mail ballots have been flying and cast (mailed) since late September.)
But if there's an especially low voter response in either vote by mail or polling place ballots, today's election -- with eight candidates -- may be decided by only a few votes (as other LB elections have been.) And then there's the matter of County election officials deciding to change a polling place location (arguably understandable ) BUT choosing not to tell LB's City Clerk OR LB voters about this until nearly the last minute.
For some, that latter point is a tipping point and sufficient cause to rethink having L.A. County run LB's elections. No, it's NOT required by a change in state law (regardless of what you may have read elsewhere).
LB's City Clerk's office can still run LB elections, despite SB 415 that did require the City to change the scheduling of LB elections. But the City Council also chose to request that L.A. County run recent LB city elections, including the Nov. 5, 2019 special election in the 1st Council district, instead of the LB City Clerk's office.
There may be perfectly sensible logistical and fiscal reasons for this (we name a few below) but to our knowledge (and after a quick confirmatory conversation today (Nov. 5) with City Attorney Charles Parkin), there doesn't appear to be a legally required reason why the City of LB has to let L.A. County election officials run LB elections. It's a ultimately a City Council policy decision.
Our understanding is as follows: If the City of LB wants to have the LB City Clerk's office run LB elections (as was the case for many years), it would likely require the City Council to agree 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 cost a sum we don't currently know.
In addition, the City would 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 it would likely require the use of 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.
LB has two major citywide elections coming up: one a special costly Council-approved special citywide election in March 2020 that proposes to make the Measure A sales tax permanent and regular elections for four Council seats (districts 2, 4, 6 and 8.) AND in November 2020, possible runoffs in some of those Council races AND a possible citywide ballot measure not-so-quietly being discussed ($200,000 in funds already raised) by Councilman Rex Richardson for some sort of "affordable housing" ballot measure.
Whom do you want running those LB elections? Again: it's a City Council policy call...
Some may argue that polling place and election snafus can and do occur regardless of who runs elections. Others may argue that when L.A. County election officials chose to change a polling place locations and keep LB's City Clerk and LB voters in the dark for weeks, they showed why they shouldn't run LB elections...and cost shouldn't be a factor because democracy is priceless.
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