By Ted AYALA
The Glendale City Council was met with a well-filled house on Tuesday, Feb. 22. On the table to be discussed at the meeting was the city’s election audit, among other notable subjects.
In regard to the election, Councilman Dave Weaver bemoaned the low visibility of the forthcoming city elections in April. “It’s been kept real quiet,” said Weaver. “I don’t know why. When I ask my constituents about the election, they tell me, ‘What election?’ The public has to know [about the election]. It’s a great right we have in this country to vote.” Major Ara Najarian and Councilman John Drayman both addressed the matter and introduced a new PSA by the city to encourage its citizens to vote. City elections will be held on Tuesday, April 5.
Later during the meeting, Glendale City Internal Auditor Michelle Flynn presented the city’s Election Audit Report. “The report provides a status for implementations made during the 2009 election oversight audit,” said Flynn. “[The audit] provided seven recommendations for improvements to the process. I’m happy to report all seven recommendations will be in place for the upcoming election this April.”
The recommendations were the following:
For the City Clerk to create a comprehensive manual which basically documents the procedures for this election. That manual has been drafted and will be in use this April.
For the City Clerk to increase staff to help with election processes. Additional staff will be hired. Signature verification
machines as well as the
barcode readers will be acquired so as to make the election process more automated.
For the City Clerk to designate an area outside the City Clerk offices to handle all the election processes. There was a plan to use Glendale Police Department’s community room and there is a draft underway to plan for this.
Improve tracking of absentee and provisional ballots. Barcodes on the ballots will be used at various points during the process.
Enhance the ballot check-in process on election night for when all precincts turn in al their ballots. Those new procedures are in place in the newly drafted manual and will be implemented on election night in April 5th. The couple of areas that were noted for enhancement were for when staff is receiving provisional and absentee ballots, and also to verify the ballot tubs when emptied.
Develop a formal training program for all election staff. The new manual will greatly assist with this matter. Cross training as well as smaller training routines have been scheduled.
Implement a more formal voter reconciliation to the vote-by-mail ballots.
Councilman Weaver asked Flynn how the city would handle the receiving of the mail-in ballots from reporting precincts. City Clerk Ardy Ardasshian informed Weaver that there will be appropriate signage in the GPD community room directing people where to go.
Councilman Frank Quintero asked Ardasshian where the automated signature verification machines came from and what other cities have used them. Ardasshian responded, “These machines have been used by the cities of Santa Clarita […]. Santa Clarita is a city with an electorate comparable to ours. They used it with great success. These are the same machines by the Los Angeles County Registrar […] and the city of Pasadena with great success.” Quintero also asked whether an operator will be on hand to be trained for the machine. Ardasshian responded that the city will obtain someone to be trained and staff the machine.
Councilman John Drayman further inquired about absentee or mail-in ballots reaching a quarter of ballots cast in the last audit and was wondering whether this was an accurate report. City Clerk Ardasshian affirmed that this was indeed so. Drayman also asked as to what could cause these machines to misread the information and how would the operator handle that situation. Ardasshian explained, “Each voter is assigned a specific number in the county registrar’s database. Each barcode matches that specific voter. […] The only thing I could imagine that could cause a misread is if the signature is smeared or smudged or there was an issue with the county’s core date.”
After this discussion, the council unanimously approved the data and reccomendations of the Election Audit.