Malibu residents who wanted to get a jump-start on early voting in the March primary elections had a rude awakening on Saturday, Feb. 22, the first day of early voting, when they arrived at the Vote Center at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School only to be turned away due to lack of equipment. 

Voting was not up and running at the location—Malibu’s only location for early voting—until midday Sunday. 

That was according to multiple disgruntled would-be voters who shared their experiences with The Malibu Times, including one resident who described her experience attempting to vote as “a fiasco.”

Representatives from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk could not confirm the complaints as they did not appear to be answering phones on Tuesday, Feb. 25; an emailed message received an automated reply stating, “We are currently receiving an unusually high volume of e-mail inquiries related to the March 3, 2020, Presidential Primary Election.”

The issue was described in some detail by Paul Grisanti in his weekly column Build Malibu Better, which appears on page A11 of this week's issue. 

“I took my own advice on Saturday the 22nd and went to the voting center at Juan Cabrillo School to cast my ballot,” Grisanti wrote. “The voting center is large and seemed to be wonderfully equipped with over 50 voting machines and eager and competent volunteers there to assist. They explained that, while the machines were present, the tablet devices containing the registered voter rolls for LA County had not been delivered, despite multiple calls to the registrar-recorder’s office. They had made multiple calls to track the tablets done and were told that the delivery was ‘on the way.’ They gave me a phone number to save me a fruitless return trip later in the day.

“On Sunday, Feb. 23, at midday I was told that the tablets had arrived but that the authorization codes they had received were incorrect,” Grisanti added, saying he eventually was able to vote on Monday, Feb. 24.

The vote center mishap is just one way voting is changing this year. 

As published previously in The Malibu Times:

• Anyone registered to vote in LA County may cast a ballot at any one of the 1,000 newly announced Vote Centers spread throughout the county, from Juan Cabrillo Elementary School to the Catalina County Club and everywhere in between. For convenience, the Vote Centers closest to Malibu have been announced at the following locations:

- Juan Cabrillo Elementary*

- Malibu Bluffs Park (Michael Landon Center)

- Topanga Library*

- Las Virgenes Unified School District (Board Room)

- Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center*

- Palisades Recreation Center

- Agoura Hills Civic Center

- Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park*

- Lindero Canyon Middle School

• Vote Centers marked above with an asterisk will be open for early voting, meaning you may cast your ballot beginning Feb. 22 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. All Vote Centers will be open beginning Feb. 29, also daily, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. 

• Vote by mail ballots may be mailed, dropped off at any Vote Center or dropped off at a vote by mail drop-off site. A drop-off site will be located at Malibu Library and will be open from Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

• Ballots may also be mailed at any post office—no postage necessary.

• Expect new technology. Vote Centers will now have electronic ballot-marking devices. The devices are designed to make ballots easier to read and mark, but do not transmit votes electronically; rather, they are designed to mark paper ballots which will then be submitted. 

• Longtime voters may notice a change in the order of races on the ballot. In a change from previous years, the presidential primary has been moved to the end of the ballot (in an effort to increase vote turnout for so-called “down-ballot,” local, elections).

• Further information may be found by visiting lavote.net, the website for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk in charge of administering elections. 

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