The only voting center in Pacific Palisades was supposed to open at 8 a.m. on Saturday at the Palisades Recreation Center. But the word quickly went out via the social media site Nextdoor Palisades: “Voting at the Rec Center Is Not Operational.”
A resident reported, “I went at 9:30 and again at 10:30 a.m. They say the head person with the key hasn’t shown up. They called Norwalk and they told them to wait it out, that there was nothing they could do about it. Unbelievable! All this high-tech equipment that our tax dollars paid for and it’s all dependent on one guy with the key.”
Around 3 p.m. Saturday, when Circling the News visited the Rec Center, several frustrated voters were walking away from the small gym and told CTN, “If you’re going to vote, don’t bother, the place is closed. The machines aren’t working.”
The sign on the door confirmed that the location was temporarily closed. Inside the gym, CTN was told that the Registrar’s office had been notified and they were waiting for someone to come fix the problem.
Sunday morning, at 8 a.m., CTN contacted Mike Sanchez, a spokesman for the L.A. County Registrar’s office, and asked why the location in Pacific Palisades was not open most of Saturday.
Sanchez replied a few minutes later via email, “That location was experiencing some coordination issues yesterday. We have dispatched a senior team early this morning to ensure it’s up and running ASAP.”
CTN asked if he could explain the “coordination issues.” There was no response by post time.
CTN stopped by the gym on Sunday about 3 p.m. and everything was operational. Workers said they had opened at 8 a.m. They told CTN that the lead person never arrived on Saturday, and when there were difficulties, no one knew what to do.
Workers added that when someone came from the county that evening to collect ballots, that person was able to figure out the difficulties, which meant that on Sunday they opened on time.
A February 29 San Gabriel Valley Tribune story (“More LA Vote Centers Open: More Glitches, More Fixes, More Praise – And More Focus on Super Tuesday”) reported that our voting-center problems were not an anomaly.
“Technical difficulties also prevented some voters from casting ballots at a few centers; some were able to get online as the day progressed. Late Saturday afternoon, it wasn’t known if they all did,” the story reported. “Volunteers at [at least two voting centers] did not have the promised special phone from the LA County Registrar of Voter’s office. Other centers reported staffing shortages.
“Mike Sanchez, a spokesman for Registrar Dean Logan’s office, said glitches on Saturday included some gaps in needed equipment and sporadic issues of limited access to the centers by staff. He noted that officials were ‘confident’ heading in to what is expected to be a busy Election Day on Tuesday, and eager to apply lessons learned at centers during their first week in action.”
One reader wrote CTN about another issue at the Palisades voting site on Saturday: “The parking was terrible. It’s filled with kids and their families, as usual. Now, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Office expects voters to add their cars to this crowd scene!”
On early spring weekends at the park, there are popular youth basketball leagues in the big gym and baseball practices on every diamond, making parking difficult. On February 4, CTN wrote to County Superintendent Sheila Kuehl’s office and asked, “Why is there only one location to vote in Pacific Palisades? And why is it at a location (Pacific Palisades Recreation Center) where parking is usually a problem?” CTN never received a reply.
The resident who wrote CTN said that when she was at the Rec Center on Saturday, “A City of Los Angeles Parking Enforcement Officer was writing a ticket for a motorcycle that was parked in the red, just across from where the circle begins. Not only was the curb red, but the motorcycle was in a section that also had a triangle of stripes painted on the street.”
However, the cars that illegally parked in the red across the street did not receive tickets. When the reader asked about it, the DOT officer said he had been called to check out the motorcycle and write a ticket if it was still parked illegally. The officer added, “They really need more parking here.”
Sunday continued to be a problem for voters looking for parking.