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Madison, Tornek Join Critics of County’s Vote-Count Fiasco

Published on Thursday, March 12, 2020 | 7:45 am

It looks like Mayor Terry Tornek and Councilman Victor Gordo are headed for a November runoff to decide who will be Pasadena’s mayor come next year. It looks like Felicia Williams will win the District 2 City Council seat that Margaret McAustin is vacating. It looks like Councilmen

Gene Masuda and Steve Madison will hold on to their jobs in Districts 4 and 6.

It looks like all that, but nothing is official yet, more than a week after Election Day.

The only thing that is certain is that the rollout of L.A. County’s $300 million, high-tech voting system has been a fiasco — with county supervisors now calling for an independent investigation into the long lines and slow vote counting that have come to define Election Day and its aftermath.

Complaints rung out at Monday night’s City Council meeting as well.

“The county’s handling of the elections was spotty, at best, and I think a lot of us knew that it would be given that they were attempting to do so much that was new and different all in one fell swoop,’’ Madison said.

“I share your dismay,” Tornek replied after Madison voiced that gripe. “It was not a success story. I’d like to know when we’re going to have the results.’’

Pasadena was not the city hardest-hit by long lines and slow counting — that dubious distinction may have fallen to Santa Monica, where voters were still queued up around midnight, four hours after the polls officially closed.

But Pasadenans felt the pain as well, with long lines at City Hall and three of the site’s six machines sidelined as of 11 a.m. on Election Day. At the San Rafael Library polling place, according to Madison, “the lines were at one point out the door, people were becoming frustrated.’’

“I don’t have any reason to believe that people actually did not vote because of the length of the lines, but that would not surprise me at all,’’ Madison said.

Madison also complained about “basic things like how many precincts (were reporting), or what percentage of the vote has been tabulated.’’

“It’s just a black box,’’ he said, referring to the vote totals posted on “You know, they come out every so often and give us some numbers that have no context and then go back into the black box.’’

At the L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting earlier this week, supervisors heard a range of complaints like that, and more — tales of insufficient training of poll workers; broken machines; and the fact that, reportedly, some 17,000 voters across the county did not receive vote-by mail ballots.

Some angry voters even called for Dean Logan, the county’s top voting official, to lose his job before the new voting system gets its next major test, on Nov. 3.

Pasadena officials did not go that far, but their complaints nonetheless were registered.

“We really need to do a critical review and figure out the best way to communicate our concerns,’’ Madison said. “I don’t know what the answer is necessarily, but it was a lot better when our city clerk was running municipal elections.’’

Tornek agreed.
“No one around the dais (of council members) would disagree with that,’’ the mayor said.

“I think there are a lot of voices on that subject. I know that the supervisors have called for a forensic investigation. I want to sort of not pile on at this point, but clearly, I’m getting the same complaints that you are.’’

For those keeping score at home, the latest numbers on the mayor’s race show Gordo, the councilman from the 5th District, leading with 14,176 votes, or 46.09 percent, to Tornek’s 12,915 votes and 41.99 percent. Out of the running were Major Williams at 2,547 votes and 8.28 percent, followed by Jason Hardin at 1,121 votes and 3.64 percent.

In District 2, Williams was leading with 52.02 percent of the vote. In District 4, Masuda was leading with 59.34. In District 6, Madison led with 52.49 percent.

As of Tuesday, the county was still tallying mail-in ballots from elections all across the county. The next update is scheduled for Friday. It may or may not provide official final vote counts.

The voting can be tracked at:

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