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.
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