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Could LA’s New Voting Tech Fail As Badly As Iowa's?

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L.A. County’s new voting machines during a mock election in Norwalk, California, Sept 2019. (Kyle Grillot/LAist)
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With Iowa fumbling the football, the stakes for Super Tuesday -- including California’s March 3 primary -- just got higher.

Early voting has already started in the Golden State. Millions of vote-by-mail ballots will be arriving in mailboxes across the state any day now.

Iowa raises a big question: Could a similar fiasco happen here in Los Angeles?

The short answer is no.

  • The Iowa app was new technology designed to report results from the Iowa Democratic Party’s caucuses. There was a backup phone system, but it was overwhelmed.
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In L.A, nothing like that will be going on. The registrar will still collect and count paper ballots like always.
L.A. is introducing its own app — an “interactive sample ballot,” which lets voters fill out a digital sample ballot at home on their phone or tablet, and then bring it into a vote center to scan a QR code from the app, which will auto-populate their actual ballot.

But the app is not voting or sending results. Angelenos will still print and cast paper ballots.

  • Reports out of Iowa indicate the Democratic Party didn’t introduce their app until very late, and there was little to no testing on the new technology.

In L.A. and Orange counties, while in-person voting is going through massive changes, with new ballot marking machines and a shift from neighborhood polling places to consolidated vote centers, the system has been through far more testing.

L.A. County put the new voting system through a mock election in the fall and there was even a pilot program where real voters used the equipment last November.

That’s on top of the testing done by the Secretary of State prior to certification.

Go Deeper:

LA's New Voting System Is Still Uncertified. Why Election Security Experts Are Worried

State Oks LA County's New Voting Machines - With A Whole Lot Of Caveat