June 15, 2024 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Column: How Long is Too Long?

Why is it taking this much time to tabulate who won and who lost for LA Mayor, City Council?

By Nick Antonicello

There was a time in America when you went to the polls, voted and then that evening you found out who won by watching on television or going to a candidate’s headquarters or victory party for the results.

It was a process that was traditional, reliable and democratic.

Now, I’m not so sure.

While we finally found out who will control the US Senate, the House seems to be tipping in the favor of Republicans by the slimmest of margins, why is the race for LA Mayor being counted at a snail’s pace as well as several council races and the contests for City Attorney and Controller?

And while challenger Robert Luna appears to be on pace to defeat first-term incumbent Sheriff Alex Villanueva, that race remains uncalled despite Luna’s wide margin.

How is that so?

Here in CD-11 as of this writing (11/14) Traci Park has a 7-point edge on fellow Venetian Erin Darling as the vote totals in that race have finally exceeded the June 8th totals.

Another voter dump is expected on November 18th which could clarify who will be the eventual winner.

But the central question is why so long to count under two million votes?

In 2020 the County of Los Angeles invested in a $300 million dollar voting system, yet things seems worse today than yesterday!

LA county switched from paper ballots to an electronic voting machines, the much vaunted $300,000,000 election system. Three hundred million dollars that could have housed every homeless person, approximately 50,000 people in LA county in a $100 dollar per night hotel room for fifty nights, yet here we are with a tremendously flawed system that is taking forever to tabulate in a timely fashion!

I visited a voting center last week and it was apparent experienced and longtime poll workers were trying to help scores of voters with this new-fangled process, and they seem somewhat challenged for the issues they faced while citizens just wanted to cast a vote and leave!

For these are experienced and dedicated board workers who understand that voters want to briskly complete this important civic duty.

So why the need for a system that takes literally weeks to complete the most important task, and that is determining who has won and who has lost?

In 2020 I faced the same issue trying to vote in the presidential primaries where the lack of internet access prevented my vote from being tabulated and poll workers were requiring I cast a provisional ballot which was an unacceptable alternative.

I decided to find another voting center where no lines existed and I voted in relative obscurity and ease.

For they had Internet access and the process worked.

But in that contest Joe Biden was wrapping up the nomination and the election to some degree was moot.

The results were almost predetermined.

But in this particular case, residents are anxiously awaiting who will be their next mayor and council representative, and the fundamental question of why so cumbersome and long is somehow ignored and unaddressed by those at the LA County Recorder’s Office.

In a tightly contested mayoral race we are forced to wait literally weeks at a time as county officials were apparently off for Veteran’s Day and the count further delayed!

One must be wondering what businessman/developer/billionaire and newly minted Democrat Rick Caruso must be thinking after investing roughly $100,000,000 to assume a position he wants to do for free?

As a guy who is running on results and getting things done, you think this marathon tabulation system doesn’t question at the core if government can do anything well?

Maybe a businessman who is results driven is certainly a desired result.

And where is the public scrutiny by the media to ask these questions so that future election results are not delayed in this manner?

Here in CD-11 both council campaigns have gone for the most part dark, any who can blame them?

Spending the better part of a year running for a job that few now believe is worth holding, can local government and in the case of LA County realize that this much time to count the votes undermines one’s faith in a grass roots and vibrant democracy?

For this is not about who wins, but a further deterioration of the public’s confidence in city and county government to get anything right.

For the County of Los Angeles has been working on this system for a decade before being implemented two years ago.

Dean Logan, L.A. County registrar-recorder and clerk has been working on the changes to the voting system for over a decade through Voting Solutions For All People (VSAP), a $300 million project according to Los Angeles Times. VSAP was aimed at redesigning the voting system to make it easier for everyone by using touch-screen tablets that offer more options for voters, including those with disabilities.

But isn’t the most important aspect of a new voting system the speed of delivery of valid and reliable results?

Results is what people expect.

If lottery officials can determine the winner of POWER BALL with relative ease, doesn’t the technology exist to ensure elections are fair and the tabulation process exact and complete within a reasonable timeline once the balloting closes on election day?

For how long is too long?

Nick Antonicello is a longtime Venetian who covered the race for Mayor of Los Angeles and CD-11. Have a take or a tip on a newsworthy issue here in Dogtown? E-mail Antonicello at nantoni@mindspring.com

in Opinion
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