By Miriam Raftery
August 1, 2016 (San Diego) — Election observers have contended that they witnessed hundreds of ballots with votes for Bernie Sanders whited out at the San Diego Registrar of Voters office and were prevented from watching further. Video. Some have contended that Sanders was disenfranchised.
East County Magazine asked Registrar Michael Vu for an explanation. In a nutshell, the Democratic Party allows only registered Democrats and decline to state voters (ie independents) to cast votes on a Democratic ballot. According to Vu, the whited out votes in the Democratic primary were cast by voters who belonged to other parties, but had requested a provisional Democratic ballot. Their votes for President and for Democratic Central Committee members where whited out, while votes for other offices were counted in accordance with state law and political party rules, Vu contends.In a separate inquiry, we asked him why a shredder truck was parked outside the Registrar of Voters office on the date that Citizens Oversight held a press conference criticizing the Registrar’s practices.
“The truck was making a scheduled monthly stop at the County Operations Center,” he said, noted that the center contains many buildings. “But they also do paper recycling pick-ups for many departments including the ROV. They service the complex monthly. However, they took NOTHING at all from the ROV offices that day.” He included an email sent to all COC occupants last winter informing them of the pickup schedule.
Citizens Oversight has filed a lawsuit over additional alleged vote counting irregularities involving how precincts were chosen for an audit of the election. A judge declined to issue an injunction to halt certification and set a trial in November after the election, making any ruling essentially moot, the watchdog group contends.
Below is Vu’s response in full on the whited-out ballot questions.
A similar explanation was provided on June 24 to Mr. Lutz (Citizens Oversight), observers and others who inquired:
As you may know, we have to verify each provisional ballot. As part of this process, the ballot must be extracted out of the envelope and a determination of whether the ballot inside, among other things: a) matches the voting precinct and contests in which the voter is eligible to vote on; b) matches the party preference in which the voter is registered and eligible to vote on. In either of these cases, should one or both not match the voter’s profile, additional steps must be taken before the ballot can be tabulated. One of these steps includes redacting any votes the voter is not eligible to vote on. We are using whiteout tape to do so.
In addition, we are using whiteout tape where we can determine the voter’s intent as provided in the SOS Uniform Vote Counting Standards. For example, in a Vote for One contest, if a voter filled in the bubble for Candidate C and then decided to cross it out in order to fill in the bubble and vote for Candidate D, our employees and the tabulation scanners would recognize this situation as an overvote. In this case, the employee would locate the overvoted contest and redact the X’d bubble, as it is clear the voter’s intent to vote for Candidate D.
As it relates to the presidential contest and redactions made on provisional ballots, political parties determined which voters – based on their registered party preference - were allowed to vote on their presidential party candidates. Specifically, the Republican, Green and Peace & Freedom parties closed their presidential contest to only those registered with their party. Any voter who was not registered with one of these political parties could not “crossover” and request the party’s ballot. If the voter insisted on voting one of these party’s ballot, they would have needed to vote provisionally. When the provisional ballot is returned, this office verifies whether the voter was, in fact, able to cast the party’s presidential contest and if not, the vote is redacted.
The same would occur with the Democratic, American Independent Party and Libertarian parties, with one exception, No Party Preference (i.e. Nonpartisan) voters. For Nonpartisan voters, the Democratic, American Independent and Libertarian parties allowed Nonpartisan voters to “crossover” and vote their party’s presidential party contest, but did not allow any other type of “crossover” voting situation from occurring.
Some Nonpartisan voters voted provisionally using a Democratic ballot that contained the Democratic Central Committee contest on it. In this case, the Nonpartisan voter was able to vote all eligible contests on the Democratic ballot, except the Democratic Central Committee contest. If the voter voted the central committee contest, we only redacted the vote for this contest. The remaining contests the voter was eligible to vote on, including the Democratic presidential contest, is counted.
If the voter was not a registered Democrat or No Party Preference voter (i.e. Republican, Green, Libertarian, American Independent or Peace & Freedom) and they voted provisionally a Democratic ballot, the votes for the Democratic presidential contest and Democratic Central Committee would have to be redacted.
Redaction happens each election and is in keeping with CA’s provisional voting laws. For this presidential primary election, it is in keeping with State law and the political parties’ rules.