New Voting System Debuts With Rocky Start

Voters line up at Palisades Recreation Center.
Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Despite Lines at Check In, Palisadians Praise Overall Voting Process

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

In-person voting for the California presidential primary kicked off Saturday, February 29, in Pacific Palisades—and changes raised immediate concerns.

For the first time, there was a shift from precinct-based to “vote center” voting, with the small gymnasium at Palisades Recreation Center as the only designated four-day voting center in the Palisades.

Community member John Beaver reached out to the Palisadian-Post to share his experience after voting on Monday morning, March 2.

“There were easily 20 people in line,” Beaver explained. “The wait was at least 20 to 30 minutes … so you have this huge line of people waiting to check in, 40 voting stations and only two people voting—that was the most I ever saw voting at the same time.”

Beaver reported that half of the voting machines at the center were not working at the time he was there and “the whole system was bogging down.”

“Every other person had a problem checking in, they couldn’t find their information and they had to fill out provisional ballots,” Beaver said to the Post.

Another Palisadian, Tolley Casparis, added that this might be due to a Wi-Fi issue at the rec center. According to an acquaintance of Casparis, who registered voters at the gym, the connection isn’t strong enough.

Treva Donaldson, recreation assistant at the center, said she wasn’t aware of such an issue.

Warren Cereghino, who voted on Monday, March 2, commented on the volume of attendance.

“We never had these kinds of lines at Aldersgate,” Cereghino said. “The guy in front of me normally voted at Marquez and the woman in front of me normally voted at Rustic Canyon. But we’re all in the same boat, we’re all trying to learn this new system.”

Although some individuals reported not having a good experience at the rec center, voters want to be clear that the actual voting process wasn’t an issue at all.

This year’s presidential primary introduced Ballot Marking Devices, digital voting machines that are used to assist voters and to print a paper ballot once their selections are made.

“Once you got there, you stick your ballot in the machine and vote,” Beaver said. “That part was easy, that part worked really, really well … But getting to that, there’s no excuse for it to take that long.”

“It wasn’t intimidating, it was just acclimatizing, getting used to something new, something different,” Cereghino said. “When I got checked in, the woman gave me a thorough explanation of what to expect, what to do, and despite my age, I managed to remember everything she told me.”

Community members continued to report long wait times on Tuesday, March 3, but Donaldson shared voting was going well—the last day for voting for the 2020 presidential primary election: “It’s going great, everybody’s following directions and doing what they have to do.”