Los Angeles Times

Er­ror found in sam­ple bal­lots in Dis­trict 34

Korean-lan­guage ma­te­ri­als that shifted L.A. con­gres­sional can­di­dates may af­fect thousands of vot­ers.

- By Chris­tine Mai-Duc chris­tine.maiduc@la­times.com

An un­known num­ber of vot­ers who re­ceived Kore­an­lan­guage vot­ing ma­te­ri­als in the 34th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict race may have re­ceived in­cor­rectly printed sam­ple bal­lots.

The in­cor­rect pam­phlets list the 23 can­di­dates on the bal­lot in the wrong or­der. If Korean-lan­guage vot­ers used the er­ro­neous sam­ple bal­lots to cast their vote, they may have in­ad­ver­tently voted for the wrong can­di­date.

The sam­ple bal­lots, book­lets that list each can­di­date’s name and the cor­re­spond­ing num­ber to fill in on the ac­tual bal­lot, were mailed to some 8,200 Kore­an­lan­guage speak­ers ahead of the April 4 elec­tion. It’s not clear how many of them were af­fected.

The L.A. County Reg­is­trar’s of­fice said an er­ror made by its print­ing and mail­ing ven­dor caused some Korean-lan­guage vot­ers to re­ceive sam­ple bal­lots that shift the or­der of can­di­dates.

Cam­paign staffers for Korean Amer­i­can Robert Lee Ahn said that in some cases the Korean bal­lot ma­te­ri­als dif­fered from English­language bal­lots mailed to other vot­ers in the same home.

A sup­porter told Ahn about the er­ror, con­sul­tant Darby Levin said.

“We’re reach­ing out to the peo­ple who may have been af­fected,” said L.A. County reg­is­trar spokes­woman Brenda Du­ran.

All vot­ers in the 34th Dis­trict have re­ceived English­language sam­ple bal­lots. Vot­ers who re­quest Kore­an­lan­guage elec­tion ma­te­ri­als were also sent sam­ple bal­lots in Korean.

And those who vote by mail re­ceived yet an­other sam­ple bal­lot, in their lan­guage of choice, with their ac­tual bal­lot.

Vot­ing of­fi­cials have stressed that the Kore­an­lan­guage sam­ple bal­lots in­cluded with the ac­tual bal­lots were not af­fected. No other trans­lated bal­lot ma­te­ri­als were af­fected ei­ther, Du­ran said.

The bal­lot or­der is sup­posed to ro­tate but by state law should only vary from one As­sem­bly dis­trict to an­other. The 34th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, for ex­am­ple, con­tains As­sem­bly Dis­tricts 51 and 53. At some point, of­fi­cials say, vot­ers in the 53rd As­sem­bly Dis­trict, which in­cludes Kore­atown, re­ceived Korean-lan­guage sam­ple bal­lots printed for As­sem­bly Dis­trict 51.

The er­ror prompted the Korean Amer­i­can Coali­tion to hold a joint news con­fer­ence with the L.A. County Reg­is­trar’s of­fice Fri­day to raise aware­ness.

Joon Bang, the group’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said it was dis­con­cert­ing that of­fi­cials did not have an idea of the scope of the is­sue. “They’re not quan­ti­fy­ing the prob­lem to be­gin with, and that’s a prob­lem,” Bang said. “It’s dis­ap­point­ing be­cause of the im­por­tance of this race and that this mis­take is only af­fect­ing the Korean Amer­i­can com­mu­nity.”

Ahn’s cam­paign is cry­ing foul. “This is voter sup­pres­sion,” Levin said. “They are try­ing to confuse Korean vot­ers.”

Ahn, who has been gain­ing mo­men­tum as Korean Amer­i­cans have ap­peared to mo­bi­lize for him, would be the only Korean Amer­i­can in Congress if elected.

Nearly 9,000 votes have al­ready been mailed in, and an es­ti­mated 1,000 of those are Korean-lan­guage vot­ers. For vot­ers con­cerned they may have al­ready sub­mit­ted in­cor­rect bal­lots, it’s un­clear whether any­thing can be done, Du­ran said.

Of­fi­cials know of at least two vot­ers who re­ceived the in­cor­rect ma­te­ri­als, but they still don’t know the mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem.

“The ven­dor can’t tell us ex­actly where the prob­lem hap­pened,” said Debbie Martin, chief deputy of the L.A. County reg­is­trar-recorder.

They are send­ing no­tices to all Korean-lan­guage vot­ers in­form­ing them of the anom­aly. The let­ter, which was mailed Wed­nes­day in English and Korean, asks vot­ers to check their sam­ple bal­lot that a cor­rected sam­ple bal­lot will be sent out “within a few days,” Du­ran said.

Un­til then, of­fi­cials say Korean-lan­guage vot­ers who have not yet mailed their bal­lots should hold on to them un­til they re­ceive the cor­rected ma­te­ri­als.

Any­one who en­coun­ters vot­ing prob­lems or has ques­tions can call the reg­is­trar at 800-815-2666; Korean speak­ers can call (562) 462-3066.

‘It’s dis­ap­point­ing be­cause ... this mis­take is only af­fect­ing the Korean Amer­i­can com­mu­nity.’ — Joon Bang, Korean Amer­i­can Coali­tion

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