🗳️ March 2020 Primary Election Ballot Analysis (V): Summary

I’m now registered as a permanent vote-by-mail voter, and I recently received my ballot for the March California Primary. And that means it is time to start doing the detailed ballot analysis. This is where, for most contests, I examine each candidate and share my conclusions, and invite you to convince me to vote for the other jerk.

Because this is a long ballot, I’m splitting it into a few chunks:

  1. The Presidential Primary
  2. The Congressional, State and Local Offices
  3. Judicial Offices
  4. Ballot Measures
  5. Summary (this post)

This part provides a summary of my ballot analysis results. Please read the full explanation of why I chose who I chose in the links above.

 

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🗳️ March 2020 Primary Election Ballot Analysis (IV): Measure for Measure

I’m now registered as a permanent vote-by-mail voter, and I recently received my ballot for the March California Primary. And that means it is time to start doing the detailed ballot analysis. This is where, for most contests, I examine each candidate and share my conclusions, and invite you to convince me to vote for the other jerk.

Because this is a long ballot, I’m splitting it into a few chunks:

  1. The Presidential Primary
  2. The Congressional, State and Local Offices
  3. Judicial Offices
  4. Ballot Measures (this post)
  5. Summary

This part covers the following Ballot Measures: State Measure 13 ❦ Los Angeles County Measure R

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🗳️ March 2020 Primary Election Ballot Analysis (III): Judicial Offices

I’m now registered as a permanent vote-by-mail voter, and I recently received my ballot for the March California Primary. And that means it is time to start doing the detailed ballot analysis. This is where, for most contests, I examine each candidate and share my conclusions, and invite you to convince me to vote for the other jerk.

Because this is a long ballot, I’m splitting it into a few chunks:

  1. The Presidential Primary
  2. The Congressional, State and Local Offices
  3. Judicial Offices (this post)
  4. Ballot Measures
  5. Summary

This part covers the Judicial Offices, all Judges of the Superior Court: 17 ❦ 42 ❦ 72 ❦ 76 ❦ 80 ❦ 97 ❦ 129 ❦ 131 ❦ 141 ❦ 145 ❦ 150 ❦ 162. California’s systems for judges is — in some ways — a strange one. I’m sure it is shaped by past abuses, especially by politicians appointing unqualified judges. How it works is that lawyers wanting to move into the judicial system (and further their careers in a non-corporate law world) must start by running for the Superior Court, from which they can be appointed to the Court of Appeals or California Supreme Court. But winning a seat on the bench is more than a question of just your skills as a jurist. I don’t know whether each office handles different types of cases — that isn’t make clear on the ballot. But each election cycle, a certain offices come up for election. Up for election in 2020 are 188 Los Angeles Superior Court judges. Those who opt not to run in the March 3 primary and do not retire before their terms are up and in time for the governor to appoint a successor, will create open seats. The lawyer/potential candidate has to (a) indicate all the seats they might want to run for, and then (b) pick one of those to actually run in — hopefully the one with no or weak competition. Sometimes you luck out, and no one runs against you. Other times, you end up against equally strong people, and are faced with a public that often only picks people randomly or based on your job title. Lucky for you, I try to sort this all out.

ETA: Here’s a clarification from a friend of mine familiar with the area: A couple points of clarification. First, judges can either be appointed by the governor (more common method) or elected (less common method). Lawyers can theoretically be appointed directly to the Court of Appeal or to the Supreme Court without serving as superior court judges first, but it’s rare. (Justices Groban and Kruger are examples of CSC justices who were never superior court judges.) Second, judges who fill a seat either through appointment or election are not guaranteed a particular assignment. Judges do rotate their assignments so they could be in civil for a few years and then move to juvenile or probate or criminal or whatever. It depends on the needs of the court based on workload. By sleuthing around on the court’s website you can usually figure out what the current judge’s assignment is. Third, if a judge’s term is up, the judge elects to run for re-election, and the judge is unopposed, then that judge does not appear on the ballot and they are automatically re-elected. But if the judge is opposed, then you’ll see their names and the names of their challengers on the ballot.

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🗳️ March 2020 Primary Election Ballot Analysis (II): State and Local Offices

I’m now registered as a permanent vote-by-mail voter, and I recently received my ballot for the March California Primary. And that means it is time to start doing the detailed ballot analysis. This is where, for most contests, I examine each candidate and share my conclusions, and invite you to convince me to vote for the other jerk.

Because this is a long ballot, I’m splitting it into a few chunks:

  1. The Presidential Primary
  2. The Congressional, State and Local Offices (this post)
  3. Judicial Offices
  4. Ballot Measures
  5. Summary

This part covers the Congressional, State and Local Offices:

  • Federal: US Representative, 30th District
  • State: State Senate, 27th District ❦ State Assembly, 45th District
  • LA County: District Attorney
  • LA City: Council District 12
  • LAUSD: Board of Education, District 3
  • Other: Democratic Central Committee, District 45

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🗳️ March 2020 Primary Election Ballot Analysis (I): Introduction & Presidential Primary

I’m now registered as a permanent vote-by-mail voter, and I recently received my ballot for the March California Primary. And that means it is time to start doing the detailed ballot analysis. This is where, for most contests, I examine each candidate and share my conclusions, and invite you to convince me to vote for the other jerk.

In Los Angeles County, this election is bringing big changes. I predict chaos. Los Angeles is getting rid of the old “Inkavote” system, where you would go to your local precinct, and use an inked stamp to mark a ballot, which you then took to a precinct worker to confirm you didn’t mismark (i.e, vote twice for an office, not ink dark enough), and then you put your ballot in the collection box.

Under the new system,  everything — and I mean everything — changes. Gone are your local polling places. Instead, there are regional voting centers — fewer in number, but open for between eleven to four days before the election. You don’t have to go locally — you can go to any center in the county and they will verify your registration and pull up and print your ballot for you to vote.

Here’s a description of the process, somewhat edited, from LAist: “First, a county poll worker looks up your information on new digital “e- pollbook.” The election worker confirms your address and prints a custom ballot specific to your precinct. You then walk that ballot over to a machine, insert it into a slot. The tablet reads your ballot, and presents you the selections to vote on a touchscreen. It then lets you review your selections at the end, and prints it out for you again. After looking things over and confirming they are correct, you insert the ballot back into the machine and you’re done.

The project is called VSAP, There are even videos explaining things. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, lots. They’ve done tests, but small scale. I can just imagine the lines when the electronic verification of registration gets backed up or goes down (here’s your first point of failure, with no backups). There are printers, and tested demonstrated problems with getting ballots printed. Then there are the ballot readers — and remember anything with mechanical collection can break down. That’s not to mention all the behind the scene risks related to the software, counting, collection, and such.

There’s also the user interface: it takes multiple screens to see all the candidates, and on a touch screen, people are more used to swiping as opposed to a “more” button. Some security experts are concerned about independent test results showing vulnerabilities, and there is a vocal contingent of election advocates who believe the only way to safeguard voting is by requiring hand-marked paper ballots whenever possible. Luckily, as the County Registrar notes, “It is still a voter-marked paper ballot. This device is not retaining your voter choices, it’s not tabulating your votes.  It’s just allowing you to mark the ballot in a way that’s clear. For tabulation, the printed ballot is the official ballot.”

Note that, as part of the conditions for certifying the system, everyone has the option of hand-marking a paper ballot.

As for me, I’ll be voting early. Partially, that’s because I’ll be out of town (in Madison WI) on election day. But I also want to try this system when it is less crowded. That’s one reason I’ve been pushing to get this analysis done.

Because this is a long ballot, I’m splitting it into a few chunks:

  1. The Presidential Primary (this post)
  2. The Congressional, State and Local Offices
  3. Judicial Offices
  4. Ballot Measures
  5. Summary

This part covers the Presidential Primary.

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