The line in front of the polling center at All Saints Episcopal Church in Los Angeles County grew to about 40 people on Tuesday as election officials saw an influx of afternoon voters for California elementary school. (Martin Macias Jr. / CNS)
(CN) – The introduction of a custom-made voting system worth $ 300 million last March in Los Angeles County has blocked voters at polling stations for hours, leaving many questions unanswered.
Reporter Kim Zetter wrote about LA County's misstep for Politico and has requested copies of a report detailing what exactly happened to the voting system. Zetter filed the lawsuit in the LA County Superior Court on Tuesday.
Last March, LA County's voters were greeted by a new voting system with touchscreen voting slips and iPad-like check-ins conducted by election officials. The Voting System for Voting Solutions for All People 2.0, valued at $ 300 million, was in development for over a decade, but the ePollbook system has not been tested to meet the county's demand – namely, how individual polling stations synchronized with the county's voter database would.
This created a bottleneck that left voters waiting in long lines and forcing others to cast tentative ballots. The LA County Board of Supervisors asked the Registrar-Recorder / County Clerk's office to investigate the missteps, and this 135-page internal report was released to the public with recommendations on how the voting system could be improved by November.
A separate external audit by Slalom Consulting did not see the light of day and the county chose to publish a summary of the report instead.
As a national cybersecurity reporter, Zetter requested a full copy of the report on June 25, but her request was immediately denied via email. She followed suit with a formal motion under the California Public Records Act, which the county also rejected on July 27th.
According to Zetter, the county said the records were exempt from disclosure. Zetter argues that the county was unable to make a proper “decision” about why it was withholding public records under California law, nor did it have the prospect of editing any portion of the document that might be withheld from being published . Finally, Zetter says that under California law, the records "contain information that is already public or has no basis for withholding."
Zetter is represented by attorneys James Wheaton and Paul Clifford of the First Amendment Project.
Last June, Courthouse News requested a full copy of the slalom report. A county spokesman said the county will not release the full document to the public as the report "contains confidential information that has been prepared for the board of directors and is designed to protect and improve the voting system and technology it supports".