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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Waiting hours to vote in L.A. is a disgrace. Fix the new system now

Voters wait in a long line at UCLA Hammer Museum.
Some voters had to wait almost two hours to cast their ballots at the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: While the new Los Angeles County voting machines were easy to learn and quite accessible, the long wait times Tuesday at the new “vote centers” were inexcusable.

Mail-in ballots, the ability to vote in any neighborhood and having more than a week of early voting days are supposed to get more people to cast ballots, not act as an excuse to limit options on election day.

The L.A. Times reports that in 2016, there were 4,698 polling places in our county. On Tuesday there were just 978. Who made the ridiculous decision that Los Angeles County should have 80% fewer polling locations than we had four years ago?

Recently I watched a rebroadcast of Spectrum News’ interview with Dean C. Logan, the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder. He touted the new voting machines and repeatedly mentioned his desire to enhance the voting experience.

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I don’t want a voting “experience.” I want to vote without missing work to do it.

Steve Barnett, Santa Monica

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To the editor: Were you stuck in line waiting to vote on election day? Blame yourself.

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I was a vote center poll worker, lonely for 10 days before Super Tuesday, fighting to stay alert, ready and waiting for voters.

In L.A. County, the unnecessary crush of voters on the last day, not surprisingly, caused the new system to slow and sometimes break. At some locations, the lead staff called in sick, leaving the operation crippled.

However, at my center, almost everyone loved the new process. We had technical difficulties at times, but voting never stopped.

Next time, vote on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday before election day. Use social media to find less busy vote centers; where I worked had almost no lines. Vote early.

E. J. Parker, Long Beach

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To the editor: For the first time in my life, during a grave crisis of governance, I was prevented from voting. This not-too-able-bodied senior citizen refused to become the 100th person in line outside my Westlake polling place.

Talking to my friends yielded similar stories, including a three-hour wait at UCLA. The people who approved and implemented this new system should resign.

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Anthony Saidy, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I worked at the vote center at West Whittier Elementary School, and the new system worked well until about 5 p.m. on election day.

The machines used to verify a voter’s registration — the replacement for the old paper list of voters — slowed down, forcing us to issue provisional ballots. This caused lines. In contrast, the voting machines had very few problems.

Having worked, and having voted, with the old and the new systems, I think the new system — more days of walk-in voting, the ability to vote at any vote center in the county, and retaining paper ballots and mail-in voting — is a huge improvement.

Owen Newcomer, Whittier


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