Mistaken flash-flood warning sent in L.A. hours before polls close as storm batters Southern California
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — On Election Day, it wasn’t just the candidates who were fighting over the votes cast in the last two weeks of the 2012 race.
Polling places across Southern California sent out a string of warning alerts a little more than a day before the polls opened, citing election-related problems that they feared would prevent their voters from voting.
Hundreds of voters at least partly relied on erroneous warnings posted on websites. Some were unable to get any information about the warnings, and some had conflicting, incomplete, or false messages.
By 1 a.m. Tuesday, all polling places statewide had closed for the day. But a handful did not close until the polls had closed for the day.
The Nevada Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees the Nevada Secretary of State election website, released a statement after the election saying it had no way to verify the warnings. The Nevada Legislature then took it upon itself to investigate them.
The warnings sent in by the polling places, which many say were incorrect about their locations and their accuracy, came because of a mistaken flash-flood warning posted by L.A.’s LAFD.
The city’s automated warning system warned Tuesday morning from 7 a.m. through 5 a.m. that a storm was approaching and asked people not to leave their homes, which is how it got its name, “LAFD.” But the warning did not take into account the possibility that the rain it was predicting included water pumped into the streets of L.A. to combat an earlier flood.
The city sent out the error message, with the name of the service center in question attached, to at least 5,700 people on Election Day. In response to the message, some took the time to check their locations against online maps of the area, and discovered the warning had been posted by a different LAFD center than the one that previously served the area.
The LAFD system, which is supported by both the city and state, would have been better able to forecast the potential severity of the storm than an automated