The City of West Hollywood’s long tradition of publicly counting the ballots cast in municipal elections — in recent years in the City Council Chambers — will give way this year to posting updates on the city’s website of a count done in Norwalk by the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder / County Clerk .
Ten candidates are running for two seats on the WeHo City Council. If two of those candidates get a large majority of the votes early on it might be possible to predict the winners on March 7, election night.
In a closer race, however, vote-by-mail ballots, which are counted by hand, will matter more and could delay even an informal declaration of a winner on election night
The county Registrar has 30 days to count and canvass all of the ballots. In an announcement of the process, the city said the Registrar will try to certify the election results by March 29. The results then will be declared official by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors at its April 4.
The WeHo City Council then is expected to approve the certified election results at its regular meeting on April 17, when the two winners will be sworn in. The new mayor and mayor pro tempore will be installed at the City Council meeting on May 15. John Heilman, who is running for re-election, currently is the mayor pro tempore and will rotate into the mayor’s position if he wins.
The consolidated election means other minor changes:
— Registered voters by now likely have received an official sample ballot in English from the Registrar. They also will receive a supplemental information pamphlet from the West Hollywood City Clerk’s Office, which will contain only West Hollywood election information and candidate statements in English, Russian and Spanish, and
— Poll workers will be selected by the county Registrar, and any concerns on Election Day should be reported to inspectors at polling locations.
Those who have filled out vote-by-mail ballots can drop them off at West Hollywood City Hall, 8300 Santa Monica Blvd. at Sweetzer, through this coming Monday during regular City Hall hours.
The City Council voted last year to consolidate WeHo’s election with the special election set for March 7 by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Holding a separate election on the same date would have an impact on voters, according to a report from the City Clerk. That report noted that voters would receive two sets of election materials, including sample ballots and vote-by-mail material from different election officials. “Additionally, they could be required to report to two different polling locations, or if they are located at the same polling place the voter must check in at two different tables, sign two different rosters, and vote two different ballots. This creates confusion among voters and poll workers alike, has the potential of disenfranchising voters, and contributes to an overall negative voting experience and voter turnout.”
The report noted that the downside to a consolidated election is that “the results would be certified by the county after their canvassing period, so the city would not have the results as quickly as we have in the past.”
The City of West Hollywood’s website elections page offers detailed election information and links to find specific information, such as polling places and sample ballots. Residents can also find their polling place by visiting www.lavote.net/locator.
For additional information, call the West Hollywood City Clerk’s office at (323) 848-6409. For people who are deaf or hearing impaired, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.