City Confuses Voters | Where to Vote at Which Poll, Where?

Provisionally, the dysfunction of basic city operations is a major concern for many residents in South Pasadena.

South Pasadena Ballot Measure A and Measure C | Incorrect poll location information publicized by the city of South Pasadena. Annoyed voters given 'provisional' ballots due to being at the wrong location.

A city announcement about polling places in South Pasadena for the Nov. 5 election provided incomplete and imprecise information, frustrating some voters. In addition to confusion over how many polling places were available, the announcement resulted in some citizens being offered provisional ballots, which are not included in the first wave of election results released by the county. The provisionals won’t be included in the totals until Friday.

The city distributed a polling notice Oct. 28 that said there would be only two polling places—the War Memorial Building on Fair Oaks Ave. and the Library Community Room on El Centro.

But late last week, a voter who checked with the county elections office confirmed there would be a third location, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Huntington Dr. The church has been used as a polling place for at least 15 years.

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On Oct. 30, the City distributed an updated notice, blaming the error on information provided by the county.

But Christine Kloezeman, whose husband William, a retired long-time city employee who serves the church as a building maintenance assistant, said the city may have gotten confused after the church rejected the city’s original request to schedule a poll worker training session on Sunday, its day of worship.

While revising the notice to reflect the correct list of polling places, the city retained a line of text that stated, “Registered voters may vote at any of the above locations.”

However, each of the three polling places had only one of the three precinct lists of voters. If a voter was from a different precinct, their name was not on the list. A voter could still vote at that location, but only by filling in a provisional ballot, which must go through a separate verification process before it is counted.

In an email, city spokesman John Pope said the city confirmed that “anyone can vote at any location under a provisional ballot and that has equal weight. Yes, if they can go to the location then they should, but if not, they can go to any. It would be incorrect to write anything otherwise.”

Nonetheless, the city removed the misleading statement from its announcement.

South Pasadena resident Sue Hitchcock arrived at the Community Center Tuesday afternoon to cast her vote. “They couldn’t find me on their register,” she said. They told her she should have gone to the polling location listed on her sample ballot. But since she’d misplaced that, she relied on the flier issued by the city. “It said you can vote at any of these places.

“[The poll workers] said we can have you vote at this location, but it would be a provisional vote,” Hitchcock explained. “But that would be a secondary vote, and I do not want that. I want to be first.”

Julane Whalen, a spokesperson for the County Registrar, confirmed that unlike polling and mail-in ballots that arrive on election day, provisional votes are not counted in the first wave of election results released by the county.

Wednesday afternoon, the county is set to release a figure for how many votes remain to be counted. They will be combined with the ballots already counted with the revised totals released Friday.



Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle. He and his wife Karin, an arts administrator from El Sereno, live in South Pasadena.