Underage Voters, Duplicate Ballots Among LA County's Voting Woes

Some voters will be able to vote more than once Tuesday when the polls open for the important California primary election, an NBC4 I-Team investigation has found.

The I-Team has uncovered what appear to be perhaps thousands of mistakes on the voter rolls in Los Angeles County.

The I-Team found some voters who have received multiple absentee ballots, and other voters who got ballots mailed to them, even though they aren’t 18, the legal voting age.

NBC4 found enough problems to sway an election.

Valencia High junior Mckenzie Bright won’t be 18 for four more months. But last month, she found in her mailbox an absentee ballot to vote in Tuesday’s election.

“I was surprised and concerned that I’d gotten it even though I can’t vote,” she said.

NBC4's investigation found voters like 95-year-old Mira Sonderling, who has been getting two absentee ballots at her Sherman Oaks apartment for years.

Jessica Garvin also received two ballots.

“I’d be more interested to find out how many doubles are out there,” she said.

More than 1,500 voters could be getting multiple ballots, according to the I-Team's analysis of some 4.8 million registered LA County voters.

“That’s probably an error, and an error that I need to correct,” said LA County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan.

Logan says his computer system is supposed to prevent duplicate ballots, sent to the same voter.

“We have our own automated duplicate check that we run against the database on a regular basis,” he said.

He admits the system isn’t perfect in catching duplicates.

The I-Team's analysis found more than 220 possible mistakes of ballots being mailed to people under 18.

Logan says in some cases dates of birth were “probably entered incorrectly,” or there were other human data entry errors by members of his staff, which caused ballots to be sent to underage voters.

Voters like Jessica Garvin, who got two ballots in the mail, worry about problems with balloting. Many voters remember the 2000 presidential race in Florida, where George W. Bush won by just 537 votes out of 6 million cast, with some of those ballots being questioned.

But Logan said he doesn’t see a groundswell of people out there eager to vote twice and break the law.

The voting problems uncovered by the I-Team don’t appear to be limited to LA County.

A nationwide analysis done by the non-profit Pew Charitable Trusts, ranked California 49th in the nation for absentee ballot and registration problems in the 2012 election.

“I think we’re better than we were in the last election,” Logan said. “Is there room for improvement? Absolutely.”

LA County officials say problems with balloting could be solved if California, like most states, had one list of voters managed by the secretary of state, not by each county.

That’s supposed to happen by 2016.

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