STUDIO CITY—A breach of email security has occurred within the upcoming Studio City Neighborhood Council elections. An email sent on March 30 to all registered candidates revealed that Empower LA Elections Committee head Jay Handal had emailed registered voters’ confidential information to the existing SCNC board and council members. The email contained registered voters’ private email, passwords and personal documents such as driver’s license, passports, 1099s, property and tax documents.

The email leak was sent from Studio City Neighborhood Council incumbent Lisa Sarkin, notifying members of the breach and urging them to delete the important documents. “We must not participate in this breach of security,” Sarkin said.

Eric Preven, a candidate running for this year’s office stated: “This is a serious breach of trust, verging on Electoral Fraud. We are demanding that the city investigates this matter and suspend the election until all of this is out in the open and rectified. Voters have a right to know that their private information and voting rights were compromised. Voters who have been notified of the breach are greatly concerned and are demanding that the City Attorney, election authorities and the Mayor’s office get involved.”

Patrice Berlin, who is running for the board position for the 2016 SCNC said: “It is concerning that the current reigning council would have access to all the online voters’ private information and passwords. They could have gone in at any time and changed their vote. This is why I and other concerned community stakeholders are running for this year’s council. We have witnessed and protested the corrupt actions of Lisa Sarkin and the existing SCNC committee, and want to be a transparent, fair and just voice for our community, not big developers and special interest groups.”

In July 2015, residents of Studio City created a petition to remove Sarkin from office after the city council backed the building of a new shopping center. Residents believed that emails from Sarkin showed she wasn’t “representing the wishes of the neighborhood,” according to a report by the Los Angeles Daily News.

Following the release of the confidential voter roles, Mr. Handal sent a second email stating: “The Studio City Neighborhood Council Elections are documentation, they are online, and there are 7 ballots with voters able to qualify for up to 5 ballots. This scenario is unique to SCNC and the difficulties that voters are experiencing are specific to SCNC.”

Richard Welsh SCNC candidate for the Homeowners seat said: “After all I have seen and read on this topic, I can only conclude that the system for voter qualification as established by the SCNC is fatally flawed.  The fact that confidential evidence is required to prove voter eligibility inherently creates a situation where an election under this system cannot be fairly and transparently administered. It is my strong feeling that the election should be postponed indefinitely until which time an emergency task force can be convened to reestablish the parameters of the process using a more conventional and inclusive model as should be readily available in the form of other Neighborhood Council procedures.”

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