The June 5 statewide primary is barreling down on Long Beach voters and for some Fifth District residents there has been some confusion as vote by mail (VBM) ballots have arrived in their mail boxes.

Over 400 VBM voters in the district, one of two that has yet to decide its council member for the next four years, received county ballots that include statewide contests but not city ballots that lets them cast votes for candidates running for the Fifth District office.

Aaron Nevarez, division manager of the governmental and legislative affairs division for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office, said that the mistake was caught early and a separate VBM packet with both ballots was sent out immediately through the U.S. Postal Service’s First-Class Mail service to those 411 affected voters.

“Each of the voters who received the incomplete packet also will be receiving a full and complete packet with a notice calling attention to the issue with instructions on what to do,” Nevarez told the Post. “In addition to that, we will be contacting directly the voters for which we have information on file, via email and via phone number, with additional information and advice on this issue so that voters are aware of what has transpired.”

Nevarez said the mistake does not impact any voters who intended to vote in person and that while this is the first time this has happened with a Long Beach election—this is the second time the city has coordinated with the county—it has happened before. He added that when conducting such a large election issues come up for a variety of reasons.

“Sometimes ballots get lost, sometimes we’ll notice a mistake on the ballot—for a variety of different reasons we have processes in place here to ensure the voters are sent the correct material and that voters are contacted to ensure they are aware of the issue, with our goal being every voter casts the correct ballot when they are ready to do so,” Nevarez said.

Incumbent Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo (left) and her challenger Rich Dines (right). 

While 411 may sound like an inconsequential amount in a district that cast over 9,000 ballots in the April primary, a sum that is likely to grow with the runoff coinciding with the statewide vote the first week of June, it could make a difference.

Incumbent Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo narrowly missed a primary victory by securing just under 48 percent of the vote in April and had a 1,700-vote cushion over her remaining opponent, Rich Dines. Mungo carried over 50 percent of VBM ballots in a district that had about 64 percent of its ballots sent in via mail.

In an email between Mungo’s office and the county, the county confirmed that the precinct affected was the 650th precinct, one of the easternmost portions of the District, known as Imperial Estates. Mungo dominated that precinct in the April primary taking in over 70 percent of the vote.

“It’s critical the County fix the situation immediately. I want to be sure every Imperial Estates neighbor gets their ballot so their voice can be heard,” Mungo said in an email. “We won’t know until election day [how it might affect her VBM performance] when we can verify that all voters submitted the LB ballots that were sent late. What matters most is that each 5th District resident gets their Vote By Mail ballot in time to vote.”

Dines, who is running as a Democrat, had about 28 percent of the VBM ballots in the April primary. However, he could receive a bump as democratic voters are historically more likely to vote in statewide elections over smaller, municipal primaries.

He said he was informed of the situation yesterday when the county clerk called to inform him that an error had been made and that replacement ballots had been mailed out.

“I asked questions and the county told me that they were addressing the issue and they would send out new ballots with the correct information and notify the voters,” Dines said. “I’m sure they will, I don’t know who the 411 voters are but we’ll continue to monitor it. Of course whenever something like this happens it’s concerning, but this just happened yesterday so we don’t have anymore information than that.”

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.