L.A. Primary Mired in Voting Problems

06/08/2016 12:46 am ET Updated Jun 08, 2017

Today's primary election in Los Angeles occurred in the biggest voting jurisdiction in the country, with over 4,500 polling places, serving nearly five million voters. In a closely-watched state amid an election season marred by voting disenfranchisement and mistrust, the widespread problems encountered by voters today merit close study and meaningful reform.

Based on reports from across the city, two types of problems stood out over most: ballot reader malfunctions at polling places and confusion over NPP (No Party Preference) Voters, independent voters who are allowed to vote in the Democratic Party but need a crossover ballot to do so. Ballots will be counted at the LA County Registrar's office regardless of the ballot scanners at polling places, which serve to make sure the vote is readable before the voter leaves. When these ballot readers malfunction, some polling places did not know what to do, and issued provisional ballots, which should count in theory, but don't have great odds.

The Los Angeles Times reports on the "chaos"some Angelenos faced. Other problems reported through social media by Angelenos were polling places that ran out of ballots, poll workers providing misinformation, voters not finding their name in the rolls, polling places moved, voters finding their registration changed, and other concerns.

Documentary filmmaker Holly Mosher covered polling issues on the West Side for Video The Vote L.A.:

Online Reports:

Machine broke at 14800 Devonshire St., Mission Hills CA (Amber Lynn Blomgren)

Poll workers having trouble finding walked-in signatures at Mar vista Nursing Center, 3966 Marcasell Ave. (Daisun Cohn-Williams)

Need more ballots, Democratic and Crossover Dem at 2700 N Beachwood Drive in Hollywood, 90068. (Alex Helisek)

Poll worker confusion at Mackey Van Nuys school on Albers. Three different districts in three different areas and voters waiting at the wrong line with no clarification. (Hope Shapiro)

Poll worker "literally put his hand in my face because i walked to wrong table." (Mark Dalbis)

Election official apparently provides incorrect information, that "crossover ballots" don't exist, when that is how most NPP were voting with that day. (Jason Norcross)

Broken ballot reader at Fiesta Hall/Pink Table Plummer Park 1200 N Vista Street, West Hollywood, CA 90046 (Jainée Patrice)

Voter found his party registration changed to Green Party and was forced to fill out a Democratic Provisional ballot in Los Angeles (Allison Burnett)

Broken voting machine in Tarzana. (David Prybil)

Poll machine broke in the first 10 minutes of the morning in Studio City. (Rick Cohen)

Voter had to vote provisionally because poll worker said they didn't have her name listed, even though that was the polling place on her sample ballot. The Commons Activity Room, 21711 Ventura Blvd., LA, CA 91364 (Kristine May)

L.A. polling place opened late and had a broken ballot reader with untrained poll workers in Los Feliz. (Jessica Pappas)

Broken ballot reader led to voters waiting and being turned away at The Hayward Apartments at 206th W 6th St., LA, CA 90014 (Brittany Tatiana Nylund)

Ballot reader machine at a Sun Valley precinct (Sara Watts)

Hard-to-Find Polling Place, a middle school graduation made for difficult parking and obscured polling location with balloons at Irving Middle School in Glassell Park. (Jessica Hughes)

Broken ballot reader at Kahal Joseph Synagogue (Allison Burnett)

Because of a malfunctioning ballot reader, voters were asked to leave their ballots loose on a table at Liberal Arts Masonic Lodge. (Allison Burnett)

Voter found their registration changed from Democrat to Republican, had to vote provisionally in Encino, CA. (Lauren Dobbs)

Polling place ran out of ballots and voters were asked to vote provisionally or come back later in the Miracle Mile. (Laurie Kaufman)

Polling place opened late, voters waited hours, suffered machine malfunctions, had unsecured ballots, untrained poll workers tried to give provisional ballots, the precinct inspector didn't know who to ask for help, in Precinct 4240 in Downtown L.A. (Devin Larson)

Ballot reader was not taking ballots, leading to poll worker confusion and insecure ballots, 206 W 6th Street LA CA 90014 (Clare Gwinn Holzer)

John Wellington Ennis is a co-founder of Video The Vote and made the election documentaries FREE FOR ALL: One Dude's Quest to Save Our Elections and PAY 2 PLAY: Democracy's High Stakes, available at SaveOurElections.org.