Neighborhood Council Election Challenge Portal
The Neighborhood Council Election Challenge Portal provides supplemental information for the 2016 Neighborhood Council Election Manual on election challenges. Please read all of the information on this page before you file a challenge to ensure that it qualifies as a challengeable issue and that you have submitted all of the necessary information.
The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (Department) will be conducting the 2016 elections regionally starting on April 2, 2016 and concluding on June 18, 2016. Each region is comprised of six to ten Neighborhood Councils, and they will hold their elections on the same day, but at different times and locations within their boundaries.
What is a challenge?
A challenge is an opportunity for a voter to request clarification and correction of the validity of certain aspects of a Neighborhood Council election.
Who may file a challenge?
Any stakeholder who voted in their Neighborhood Council election and submits the same stakeholder documentation required of the voters in the election may file a challenge to the conduct of that election.
When is the deadline to file a challenge?
A qualified stakeholder as noted above may file an election challenge no later than five (5) calendar days after the at poll elections. The deadline is 5 pm of the 5th calendar day.
What information will I need to submit for the challenge?
The challenge submission must meet the following requirements:
- Identify the basis for the challenge to the election.
- Identify the person(s) issuing the challenge and their contact information.
- Identify up to three witnesses and provide their statements via a Witness Statement Form provided here.
- Provide all supporting documentation, including any witness statements (none will be accepted after the request is filed).
- The supporting documentation must prove that the alleged challenge is not only valid, but would also have made a difference in the election outcome. Challenges without such supporting documentation will automatically be rejected.
All of the submitted information is public information and will be listed on our elections website even if you withdraw the challenge later.
What challenges will be considered valid challenges?
- Incorrect Ballots (which caused voters to vote either significantly more or less for a qualified or incorrect candidate)
- Electioneering by Candidate(s)
- Ballot Duplication (by a candidate or stakeholder)
- Explicit Use of City logo(s) for Campaign Materials by Candidate(s) (including LA City, EmpowerLA logo, Neighborhood Council logo, and any other City department logo)
- Neighborhood Council Board Endorsement of a Candidate or Slate of Candidates
- Neighborhood Council Outreach Materials Where Only Existing Board Member Candidates Are Mentioned after Candidates Are Certified
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessible Facility (if curbside voting was not available)
- Illegal Collection of Vote-by-Mail Ballots
- Multiple Voting any voter who casts multiple ballots in one Neighborhood Council election illegally
What challenges are not valid challenges?
- Lack of Outreach (outreach performed by a Neighborhood Council, the Department, or any other City entity)
- Published Articles (challenges based on election information published in media such as the Internet [including blogs], newspaper[s], or any other type of media)
- Translated Election Material
- Candidate Forums
- Polling Place or Pop Up Poll Location Selection
- Change of Polling Place or Pop Up Poll Location
- Email Forwarding of Neighborhood Council “Get Out To Vote Material” or Emails.
- Ballot Design
- Neighborhood Council Endorsed Election Procedures/Policies
- Neighborhood Council Bylaws (Received from the Department by deadline)
- Neighborhood Council Endorsed Polling Place or Pop Up Poll Suggestions
- Stakeholder Qualifications to Vote (Neighborhood Council Bylaws or Election Procedures Stipulation Worksheet)
- Department Approved Outreach Material
- Candidate Slate(s)/Slate Flyers
- Campaign Expenditure(s)
- Volunteer Poll workers or Poll worker Bias
- Use of Police and/or Security at Polling Place or Pop Up Poll
- Voter Intimidation
- Error in Voting Instructions
- Lack of Necessary Voting Materials
- Voters Threatened by Candidates
- Electioneering by Stakeholder(s) or at Pop Up Polls
- Voter Instructions
- Known Factors Prior to Election Day (such as: polling place bias because a candidate works at the location, language translators, etc.)
- Language assistance or lack thereof at Polling Place or Pop Up Poll
- Use of LA City, EmpowerLA logo, or Neighborhood Council logo when it is used on a website as identification purposes for an active link to click through to the City, EmpowerLA or Neighborhood Council website, social media page, etc. for more information
- Endorsements and Sample Ballots created by and/or distributed by stakeholders or candidates that ask voters to vote for a specific candidate or candidates
What are the remedies for the challenges?
If a challenge is found to be valid, remedies will be narrowly interpreted to affect only the voters, candidates, or seats affected. Redoing the entire Neighborhood Council election is not a remedy unless the challenge affected every seat on the ballot. Remedies can include, but are not limited to, letters of correction/reprimand, disqualification of candidates or voters, Neighborhood Council funding penalties and referral to the City Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution.
Who reviews the challenge?
There are three levels of review for all election challenges:
- The Department staff will do an initial review to determine if the challenge was submitted before the deadline. If it is deemed timely, the challenge will move to the next level. If not, the challenge will be rejected.
- Three Independent Election Administers (IEAs), who were not assigned to the region from which the challenge was filed, will review the challenge with the Office of the City Attorney to determine if it falls into one of the category of challengeable issues listed below and if it has the supporting documentation. If so, the challenge will move to the Election Challenge Panel for final determination. If not, the challenge will dismissed by the IEAs.
- Three Neighborhood Council Regional Grievance Panel members, who are assigned by their Neighborhood Council to resolve grievances, will review the challenge and supporting documentation at a Brown acted and posted meeting open to the public. The Department selects the Panel members from Neighborhood Councils in other regions of the City to ensure that they are neutral. If the Panel determines the challenge is valid, they will sustain the challenge and recommend a remedy to be implemented by the Department. If they determine the challenge is not valid, they will dismiss the challenge.
Who can attend the Regional Grievance Panel Hearing?
The meeting is open to the public. Members of the public have to ability to provide public comment on the challenges.
What happens at the Regional Grievance Panel Hearing?
The only written evidence considered at the Regional Grievance Panel Hearing by persons filing an Election Challenge will be the filed Election Challenge, up to three Witness Statements and the documents uploaded with the Election Challenge. At the hearing on the Election Challenge, the person filing the Election Challenge shall have the opportunity to present an opening argument not to exceed ten minutes. If there are any person or persons being challenged, they shall have the opportunity to present and opening argument not to exceed ten minutes. A designee from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment/City Clerk Neighborhood shall have the opportunity to present an opening argument not to exceed ten minutes. The person filing the Election Challenge shall then present a rebuttal not to exceed five minutes. If applicable, the person or person subject to the challenge may present a rebuttal not to exceed five minutes. The designee of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment/City Clerk shall present a rebuttal not to exceed five minutes. The Regional Grievance Panel may, in its sole discretion, extend the time of the opening arguments and rebuttals. No further witness testimony shall be allowed. After the rebuttal by the designee from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment/City Clerk, the Regional Grievance Panel may question the parties. The Regional Grievance Panel will open the matter for public comment for ten minutes unless, in the sole discretion of the Regional Grievance Panel, additional time for public comment is necessary to adjudication of the Election Challenge. The Regional Grievance Panel then shall deliberate the Election Challenge and provide a recommended determination and remedy to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.
If I file a challenge, do I have to appear in person at the Regional Grievance Panel Hearing?
No, the Regional Grievance Panel will make a determination based on the documentation submitted, the Department/City Clerk report and public comment.
Can the Regional Grievance Panel determination be appealed?
No, the Regional Grievance Panel determination cannot be appealed.
Can the IEAs determination be appealed?
No, the IEAs determination of whether the challenge moves to the Regional Grievance Panel cannot be appealed.
What is the timeline for challenges to be processed?
Valid challenges will be heard by the Regional Grievance Panel within fourteen business days. A copy of the Election Challenge Panel Determination will be sent via email to the challenger and posted to the Department website within seven calendar days after the hearing.
Can the newly elected board be seated when a challenge is filed?
No, all election challenges must be resolved before the elections results are certified and the newly elected board members seated. Until then, the current board will continue meeting operations of the Neighborhood Council.
How will I know what happened to a challenge?
You can keep track of all election challenges and the status on the Submitted Challenges web page
The Department will notify the challenger via email if the challenge is rejected or dismissed by the IEAs or the Election Challenge Panel. If the challenge is sent to the Election Challenge Panel, the Department will notify via email the challenger, the Neighborhood Council, the witnesses, and anyone accused in the challenge provided we have their contact information. We will also physically post the agenda for the Election Challenge Panel meeting pursuant to the Brown Act at City Hall, as well as send it through the Emergency Notification System (ENS) for the Neighborhood Council.
How are challenges submitted?
Challenges must be submitted online via this portal. The submission form is available here. We will not accept challenges delivered to the Department in any other manner.
All supporting documentation for challenges, including up to three Witness Statement Forms, must be submitted with the online form. If you attach additional Witness Statement Forms, we will only accept the first three. We will not accept additional documentation after the filing deadline.
Where can I learn more about the challenge process?
If you have any other questions about the election challenge process, please call the Elections Division at (818) 293-8683.