Beverly Hills Files Lawsuit Regarding Ballot Devices
The City of Beverly Hills has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court over concerns regarding Los Angeles County’s new Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) touchscreen electronic voting system in place for the Super Tuesday election on March 3.
As voters prepare to cast their ballots in-person at the new Vote Centers county- wide, only four candidates for Beverly Hills City Council will appear on the first screen of the ballot marking device. Namely, Robin Rowe, Councilwoman Lili Bosse, Rabbi Sidney Green and Planning Commissioner Lori Greene Gordon. To view the fifth candidate in the race, Councilman Julian Gold, M.D., voters must select the MORE button. However, if the voter instead presses the NEXT button, they will not see all the candidates.
“We are deeply troubled that voters will be disenfranchised by the new VSAP system,” said Beverly Hills City Attorney Laurence S.
Wiener. “All candidates should be presented in an equitable and transparent way to the voters. As the system is currently designed, a voter may not realize they are bypassing additional candidates. We believe this issue can be easily resolved.”
The City is asking L.A. County to gray out or delete the NEXT button until the voter has moved to the last page of that individual race and viewed all candidates. Alternatively, the City is asking that instructions be included on the first screen indicating there may be additional candidates than the first four names listed and to select MORE to view all choices.
The California Secretary of State has not yet certified the new VSAP system, although that action is expected to take place this week. Weiner told the Courier that it was important to get the lawsuit on file now.
“We needed to file our petition with sufficient time to hold a hearing and obtain a remedy before the machines were deployed. The two candidates who are running for re-election abstained from the vote. The three remaining Councilmembers were passionate about pursuing this action to ensure a fair election,” said Weiner.
The Courier reached out to Councilman Gold about the newly filed lawsuit, which will directly impact him. “First of all, I think it’s important to note that Councilwoman Bosse and I both recused ourselves from the discussion of this matter when it came up in study session and later in a closed session,” said Gold.
“But, clearly, I support this move,” he added.
Gold sees the matter as one of inherent fairness, both to candidates and to voters.
“Anybody who has looked at what’s proposed in this new voting system recognizes that it is intrinsically unfair. It’s one thing if you don’t want to vote for me. But it’s possible that someone could look at the ballot and not even see my name. All you want is for an election to be fair,” said Gold.