A random printing error on the voter roster in Los Angeles County caused widespread confusion in the midst of voting in the California primary on Tuesday.
Voters whose names did not appear on the roster should have been given provisional ballots. The error could have a major impact on the timing of the results in the state, with an increase in provisional ballots possibly delaying the count for days.
The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder said that the names of 118,522 voters were omitted from the roster that poll workers use to check in voters at their polling place.
In an interview, a spokesman with the county registrar said the office did not know what parts of the county were affected, but some 1,530 precincts of the 4,357 Los Angeles County voting locations were impacted.
“We are working to see what precincts are affected,” said Michael Sanchez, a spokesman with Los Angeles Registrar, who explained that the office had discovered a random printing error on the roster. “We don’t know yet. We are still in the thick of it.”
Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Los Angeles mayor who’s now a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, called on the LA County registrar to keep the polls open longer.
“I’m calling on @LACountyRRCC to keep the polls open longer because of the unprecedented number of voters left off the voter rolls. You have the right to vote. If you were turned away, return to your polling place & exercise your right to vote by requesting a provisional ballot,” he tweeted.
Voters whose names did not appear on the roster were supposed to be given provisional ballots, but clearly that did not happen in some cases. The department received calls and complaints throughout the afternoon, several hours before polls closed.
While all registered voters can still cast a provisional ballot before the polls close at 8 p.m. PT, the irregularity could potentially cause major headaches in counting votes in the governor’s race and the highly competitive contest in the 39th Congressional District, which is represented by retiring Congressman Ed Royce.
Royce’s district includes the southeast corner of Los Angeles County, as well as portions of Orange County and the southwest corner of San Bernardino County.
Several Democratic strategists noted that many Hispanic voters live in that area of the 39th District, which could impact the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s chosen candidate Gil Cisneros.
In a statement, Cisneros said, “I believe every vote must be counted. The County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk and Secretary of State must work swiftly to find a remedy and ensure every vote counts. Our campaign will be watching closely and be prepared to act to protect any voter who was disenfranchised.”
The 39th District is one of seven California districts currently held by Republicans that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. It is one of the top targets in the country as Democrats try to capture the 23 seats they need to win control of the House of Representatives.
It is also one of the districts where Democrats were concerned that they would be locked out by California’s “top two” primary system. In California’s “jungle primary,” the “top two” vote getters advance to the November contest regardless of party.
Cisneros has been locked in a heated battle with Democrat Andy Thorburn for the number two spot in that district. Young Kim, a longtime aide to Royce who was endorsed by him, is widely seen as the favorite to capture the top spot in tonight’s contest.
The race in the 39th Congressional District was expected to be very close, in terms of determining whether Democrats would be boxed out of competing in November.
Voters from LA County make up about 28% of the electorate in the 39th Congressional District. About 61% of the electorate lives in Orange County, and nearly 11% live in San Bernardino County, according to the latest statistics from the California Secretary of State.
Ramping up Hispanic turnout in the heavily-Democratic Los Angeles County was a key part of the strategy for Cisneros’ and his allies in the closing days of the race.
The 39th district is 35% Hispanic, and 31% Asian, according to statistics from the Almanac of American Politics. The Los Angeles County portion of the district encompasses parts of La Habra Heights and Diamond Bar, which have large populations of Asian-Americans.