LA County Releases Results of Independent Review on Primary Election Voting Errors

Seal of Los Angeles County

Primary elections in Los Angeles County were marred in June, resulting in voters’ names being left off of the printed voting rosters. Independent reviews led by IBM Security Services identified software configurations as the root for the exclusion of 118,509 names from printed voter rosters in areas of LA County for the June 5 primary election.

Voters’ rights were never at stake, and the roster error didn’t interfere with voting rolls. However, the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, in a statement provided by the county, said the roster print issue affected about 12,000 voters who went to the polls according to a report published by county officials last week. Their votes were processed immediately and counted for the official election. 

With speculations of a cyberattack cleared, other incidents of prejudice regarding the voter exclusion were proven inaccurate by the independent review. It was verified that no pattern of exclusion based on demographics or geographic characteristics existed.

Regarding the software, the review found that the county’s technology used to generate the printed lists for polling places was incompatible with the statewide format of the voter database, because it had not been updated. This resulted in the system generating voter records with empty birthdates of 118,509 voters.

As a result of the missing birthdates, the county’s system incorrectly classified these voters as “underage,” leaving them off of the printed voting rosters.

IBM ran multiple scenarios to pinpoint the cause of this until it was finally figured out. Initially, the incompatible data of the state was used to develop the printed voting rosters. The original report stopped after 118,509 records were processed without birthdates. After this incident, the county used its own database to export the voting rosters, which used correct information. The investigation led to the conclusion that incorrect and correct data merged, leading to the ultimate error of the printed rosters.

After its review, IBM recommended strategies to the county to correct its past incidents, such as updating the software code so local and state voter databases are compatible, resolving deficiencies in the system used to create the printed roster and increasing capacity, and changing configurations on to accommodate periods of high demand.

In the shared statement, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said the county has already placed measures to ensure the accuracy of printed voter rosters for the upcoming general election on Nov. 6.