A “Printing Error” Made Election Day a Pain for Lots of L.A. Voters

The County Clerk is trying to figure out why 120,000 people were left off voter rolls

There are few things worse on election day than showing up at your designated polling place and discovering that your name is nowhere to be found on those big, white sheets of paper. In 1,530 voting locations 118,522 L.A. County voters were omitted from the voter rolls due to what the Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office is calling a “printing error.”

People whose names were not on the rolls were given provisional ballots, which are widely considered to be more time consuming to fill out. They also tend to degrade people’s confidence that their votes will be counted in an election that was already predicted to have low interest and a low turnout.

An Inglewood voter whose name was omitted from the rolls tweeted, “Forced to use a provisional ballot in Inglewood. Poll workers say they did not receive info for an Entire Street. #votersuppression #disenfranchisement or honest mistake?” Another Angeleno tweeted, “Had to do a Provisional Ballot because the machine is and has been down all morning. Polling station (Los Angeles African American/Latino neighborhood) also says also they were not sent enough pens for voting. Sounds like dirty politics to me.”

Other voters took to Twitter about the flap, including actor Henry Winkler.

Adam Schiff, who is defending his seat in the House of Representatives, encouraged people to cast provisional ballots.

Former L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was relying on L.A. voters to give him a shot at the governorship, requested that the County Clerk keep the polls open longer.

It was a throwback of sorts to the June 2016 presidential primary, when L.A. voters reported “chaos” at their polling places, including broken machines and chunks of voter rolls missing. (For what it’s worth, the ballot box at my polling place was jammed yesterday, which required that the ballots be inserted manually, meaning that they wouldn’t be scanned for errors like over-voting before being sent to be counted. Luckily, this was at nearly 7:30 p.m.)

Despite people’s misgivings about the provisional ballot process, the County Clerk has tried to put people’s minds at ease by reiterating that, on average, 85 to 90 percent of provisional ballots are deemed valid and are counted. The Clerk’s office says it’s working on figuring out what caused the error.


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