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Human relations commission

HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION
RABBI ALLEN I. FREEHLING
CITY OF LOS ANGELES
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
KARA INAE CARLISLE
PRESIDENT
CALIFORNIA
FRANCES (ELLIE) SEARS
DEPUTY DIRECTOR
KEITH ROHMAN
ADMINSTRATIVE SERVICES
VICE PRESIDENT
PATRICIA M. VILLASEÑOR
JEHAN F. AGRAMA
DEPUTY DIRECTOR
LORRAINE BRADLEY
FIELD SERVICES
LENI BOORSTIN
YASMIN DELAHOUSSAYE
200 NORTH SPRING STREET
FRANCISCO J. DUEÑAS
CITY HALL, ROOM 1625
EVELINA FERNÁNDEZ
ANTONIO R. VILLARAIGOSA
LOS ANGELES, CA 90012
NIRINJAN SINGH KHALSA
(213) 978-1660 OFFICE
JULIE CHAVEZ RODRIGUEZ
(213) 978-1671 FAX
PAULE CRUZ TAKASH
(213) 978-0835 TDD
Michael de la Rocha, Policy Advisor
City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council - November 26, 2007 Election
December

As the Final Decision Maker for the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, one challenge for the
November 26, 2007 election was received by the scheduled deadline. The role of the Final
Decision-Maker (FDM) is to render a fact-based decision regarding challenges pertaining to
an election. As a neutral entity with no interest in the outcome of an election except to ensure
that said election is equitable and fair to the entire community, the City of Los Angeles Human
Relations Commission (HRC) ensures that process and procedures are not violated.
As a result of this role, the HRC has reviewed the challenges with the duly approved Arroyo
Seco Neighborhood Council Bylaws and Election Procedures and the following is our decision
on this election.
Challenge:

The challenge was submitted by Mr. Joseph Riser whose challenging the outcome of the
election based upon an error on the instructions of the original ballot mailed out to 459 Mount
Washington (MW) stakeholders. Mr. Riser is requesting a re-vote for only the two MW
geographic representative seats. The challenge is as follows:
“The portion of the election that involved votes cast by mail for the two 'geographic
representatives' seats for the community of Mount Washington (MW) was very obviously and
seriously affected by an error in the instructions on the original ballot mailed.
On that ballot, 459 registered Mount Washington stakeholders were told in writing in at least
one location that they should ONLY vote for 'one' of the four listed candidates for that position
-- when in reality, there have always been multiple seats open each election year.”

According to the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council Election Procedures, Article XI. Section
A and H,
The Independent Election Administrator will be responsible for overseeing and approving the
design of the ballot(s) to be used in the election.
Voter instructions will be included on the ballot or accompanying material to assist the voter in
completing the ballot correctly.

Review and Findings:

In his challenge, Mr. Riser states that the mistake on the original mail-in ballots contributed to
a 33% "under-vote" which significantly affected the outcome of the MW geographic
representative seats. Although this may be one of the factors that contributed to the "under-
vote," there are a number of other factors, including the need for increased outreach and the
low overall voter turnout in general that may have also contributed to the “under-vote.”
Whatever the reason may be, the Election Procedures clearly state that the correct protocol
and/or practice is to immediately inform the IEA of any mistakes in regards to the ballot
design, as he is the entity responsible for overseeing and approving the preparation of the
ballot to be used in the election. If a discrepancy and/or error are indeed discovered then the
IEA, along with the Election Committee, would then take appropriate steps to correct the
mistake and inform all eligible stakeholders.
An interview with the Independent Election Administrator (IEA), Jerry Kvasnicka, informed the
Human Relations Commission that prior to the election several MW stakeholders did report
inconsistencies on the ballot noting that the text of the ballot stated "vote for 2" while the top of
the ballot stated "vote for 1." As a result, immediate attempts were taken on November 16,
2007 to correct this mistake after the error was discovered, including the mailing and e-
mailing of a correction postcard to all MW stakeholders informing them of the error and that
they could vote for two, not just one candidate. In addition, those who received the email and
correction postcard were also informed that if they had already mailed in their ballot that they
could contact the IEA and get a replacement ballot and/or attend the polling location on the
day of the election and recast their vote.
Although the IEA, along with the Election Committee, took immediate action to correct
the unintentional mistake on the original ballot, the fact that only 30 votes separated
the top three candidates and only 8 votes separated the second place finisher from the
third place candidate places serious doubt about whether the election result would
have been different if the unfortunate mistake had not occurred.
By not informing the
MW stakeholders of the appropriate voting instructions from the onset of the election, the IEA
and Election Committee unfortunately broke Article XI, Section H of the Election Procedures
which states that “Voter instructions will be included on the ballot or accompanying material to
assist the voter in completing the ballot correctly.”
In addition to the infraction of the Election
Procedures, the IEA mailed out only two replacement ballots and received a couple of
additional phone calls inquiring about the corrected ballot, thus casting even more uncertainty
of whether or not all eligible stakeholders were indeed aware of the replacement ballot.
Looking at the latest Arroyo Seco email spreadsheet also reveals that less than half of all stakeholders signed on to the email list again casting doubt as to whether or not every stakeholder was notified in ample time to correct their vote. Of the 409 eligible voters listed on the ASNC spreadsheet, only 182 gave email addresses, which mean that a significant amount of voters could not be reached by email. Although the IEA and ASNC Election did mail out a correction postcard to every registered ASNC voter, the small number of votes separating the candidates and the fact that there is no way to ensure that every voter was indeed aware of the correction jeopardizes the integrity and fairness of the overall election process. Final Decision:

The IEA, along with the Election Committee, must be acknowledged for immediately taking
action to correct the error on the ballot. Their immediate actions prove that their intent and
spirit was indeed to correct the unintentional error on the initial ballot and ensure that every
ASNC stakeholders was aware of the correction in a timely and fair manner. However, in
order to ensure and uphold a fair and transparent process for all, the Human Relations
Commission calls for the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council to re-vote ONLY the Mount
Washington representative positions. Re-voting only the MW representative positions will
eliminate any doubt about the legitimacy of the election and allow all stakeholders to feel
confident in the overall election process and the integrity of the newly elected representatives
of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
Therefore, effective, December 18, 2007, the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission recognizes the following stakeholders, except for the Mount Washington representatives, as the official, newly elected representatives of Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council: Montecito Heights Representative (1 position) Recreation, Culture and the Arts (1 position) Monterey Hills Representative (1 position) Sycamore Grove Representative (1 position) Retail, Wholesale and Services (1 position) Mt. Washington Representative (2 positions) Looking at the number of votes that were cast in this election, the Human Relations Commission hopes that the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council and its Election Committee will not be satisfied with a voter turnout of 283 people for this election out of a potential resident stakeholder population of at least 24,521. Each election should be seen as an opportunity to improve the process, and thereby enhance all aspects of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council’s way of doing things. If Neighborhood Councils are to succeed, each and every one of them must be diligent in reaching out to all of their possible constituencies and be accessible to the community they profess to represent. We know that outreach is an arduous effort, but it must be done. To that end, we offer our assistance to this particular Neighborhood Council in the coming year. MDLR/pmv

Source: http://www.asnc.us/Elections-2007/121807-MtWashRe-election/121807-ASNC-FDMreport.pdf

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