By Mary O’KEEFE
On Sunday about 1,000 Democrats stood in line throughout the day at the Pacific Avenue Education Center in Glendale to once again cast ballots for individuals they think would best represent their party at the Democratic Convention.
“My team spent weeks working to plan out today,” said Eric Bauman, chair of the L.A. County Democratic Party and vice chair of the California Democratic Party. Bauman’s team was tasked with redoing the caucus for the 43rd District that first took place in January of this year.
Sunday’s caucus was considerably different from January’s, in part because organizers knew what to expect.
“I anticipate up to 1,000 people but we are prepared for 1,500,” Bauman said.
The January election had many more voters than anticipated. The location, a room at Glendale Community College, was not equipped to handle so many voters. Sunday’s election at the Pacific Avenue Education Center was notably different.
Bauman wanted a place where it would be easy for voters to check in, a place for them to sit while casting their ballot and a separate area or table as a troubleshooting station.
“Check-in is slower than I want [but] we are verifying each person as they come up [to the tables],” Bauman said.
There were 10 registration areas outfitted with laptop computers to verify that voters were registered properly prior to the first caucus in January.
Another difference from the prior caucus was the number of staff and volunteers. There were people from the local Los Angeles County Democratic Party and state Democratic Party as well as 90 volunteers. There were several supervisors walking around to answer questions from voters and volunteers.
“We wanted to make sure the process was done properly,” said Clark Lee, CDP spokesman. “Basically we had made sure the [caucus voting] procedure was written down and that all volunteers were [trained].”
He added there were rules in place for candidates’ observers who were allowed to watch and verify the procedure.
“This is the way my team and I do things,” Bauman said of the structure. He added they tried to anticipate every type of problem, but knew that some issues would probably arise; however, when they did the team would be ready.
The redo of the election was sparked by some complaints after January’s election. The California Democratic Party Compliance Review Commission investigated the complaints submitted to the Democratic Party and found some questionable votes cast in the caucus election. The review board did not find fraud but instead found that confusion was the main problem.
In an earlier interview with CVW, Michael Soller, CDP spokesman, said, “We don’t see intent here … what we see is confusion.”
At the caucus, voters were asked to elect six females and five males to send to the Democratic Convention. Specific candidates had their choices, or slates. For example, Anthony Portantino, who is running for State Senate, favored the Democrats United Slate while Assemblymember Mike Gatto, who is also running for the same Senate seat, favored the Progressive Slate.
In January’s election the Democrats United Slate won as it did in Sunday’s election. Those selected Sunday to go to the convention are Jordan Del Guercio with 568 votes, Steven Whiddon, 568 votes, Leonard Manoukian, 567 votes, Malcolm Johnson, 565 votes and Garry Willis, 565 votes. The six females who were elected were Aline Babaian with 589 votes, Silva Kechichian, 584 votes, Jamie Garcia, 573 votes, Elen Asatryan, 571 votes, Mijin Fernandes, 570 votes and Judith Smith, 560 votes.
Berdj Karapetian was elected as the delegate to the executive board.
Lee added that there were 845 ballots cast and the votes were verified and double-checked.
“This is a public election [and we wanted to make certain] everything was open and transparent,” Lee said.