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Report blames software error for Los Angeles voting problem

August 1, 2018

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A software error, not a cyberattack, caused a problem that resulted in nearly 120,000 voters being left off the printed voter rosters at Los Angeles County polling places in California’s June primary, county officials said Wednesday.

An independent review by IBM Security Services concluded that the county’s software to keep track of voters didn’t recognize a change in the format for voter data provided by the state. As a result, the software discarded the birthdays for 118,509 voters, determined they were too young to vote and did not include them on the printed rosters used at polling places.

There was no demographic or geographic pattern to the affected voters, officials said.

The election night issue sparked concern that voters would be turned away. Antonio Villaraigosa, who was a Democratic candidate for voter, seized on the discrepancy and called for polls to be kept open.

“We won’t cast aspersions, but we will demand answers,” he said on election night. He later conceded to the top-two finishers, Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox.

County officials say about 12,000 of the affected voters went to the polls and were required to cast provisional ballots and their votes were counted. Officials say the names were never excluded from the official voter rolls — just the printed rosters — and “their right to vote was never at issue.”

IBM’s investigation blamed heavy demand for a 21-minute outage on the county’s elections website after the polls closed. It said there was no evidence of a security breach.

The company recommended that he county update its software code so it’s compatible with the state’s, implement quality control practices for election officials and increase the capacity on its website.

Registrar-Recorder and County Clerk Dean Logan said in a statement that the LA County has enacted measures to ensure the voter rosters are correctly printed for the general election in November.

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