Voting Changes, Computer Glitches Mar California Primary

By The Associated Press,
New York Times,
March 4, 2020


A series of changes in California meant to boost voter turnout and smooth its new Super Tuesday primary election led to a surge in last-minute voters, computer problems and short-staffing that appeared to catch elections officials by surprise, triggering scathing criticism Wednesday. 

Long lines, sluggish computer connections and general confusion plagued polling places statewide — raising serious questions about the ability of the most populous state to handle November's general election, when millions more voters are expected. Critics called for an overhaul before then.

Los Angeles County rolled out a new $300 million voting system, including new scanning devices and voting machines that the state certified despite known security and technical problems. Many of the voting devices didn't work and there were not enough check-in machines or poll workers, leading to wait times of two hours or more. 

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign filed a legal complaint in the county that has more than a quarter of California's 20 million voters, a county supervisor demanded an investigation and a Democratic Party leader gave a stinging rebuke of the “abysmal" infrastructure.

- - - - - - - 

he state voter database was not available part of Tuesday, so poll workers in 15 counties could not print out ballots, register voters or check whether voters had already cast ballots. Some counties said the system was slow all day. A spokesman for Padilla said there was no evidence of malicious activity but did not explain what caused the failure.

“We tried a lot of new things, and we’re going to need to make adjustments," said Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. “It was not good timing to roll out all this new technology in a major election.” 

A crush of voters in the 15 counties that replaced traditional neighborhood polling places with fewer multipurpose vote centers delayed the reporting of results in some counties. The centers, where people could register and vote, were designed to make voting more convenient. (Full Story)