Voter intimidation is nothing new.Â It is a practice that dates back more than a century in the United States.Â In the South, we had the KKK guarding the polls, poll taxes and tests, intimidation of volunteers trying to register blacks to vote and even numerous murders.Â In Ohio in 2004 we had long lines that lasted all day in addition to other irregularities that likely caused thousands of people to not be able to cast their ballots.Â
In Orange County we have experienced voter registration fraud, poll guards, threatening letters sent to naturalized citizens suggesting that they may be arrested it they vote and as though it was taken from the Ohio playbook, long lines, broken equipment, and insufficient paper ballots to compensate for the broken machines, long lines, and requests for paper ballots.Â While the most serious of the problems seem to have occurred in precincts with heavy Democratic registration the problems have been documented all over Orange County.Â ViewÂ this videoÂ from Video the Vote and you’ll see what I mean. Click Here for Video.
These problems are not new to Orange County; they occurred most recently in the June Primary election.Â Any reasonable person should expect that our elections official, Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley, would have take steps to ensure the problems did not occur again.
That didn’t happen and the result was a successful effort to Stump the Vote.
I’ve been asked why would an elections official do such a thing, and if the reason were partisan how could they feel sure it would work for their candidates?Â That answer is simple, since more democrats are likely to vote at the polls, the net result of long lines at poling places is to suppress that area of voting, thereby increasing the percent of votes received by the Republican candidates.Â Let’s use the 34th Senate contest as an example.Â The Democrat Lou Correa received a greater percentage of votes at the polls and the margin of Correa’s lead, as of 5 p.m. Saturday, November 18th was 821 votes.Â There are 377 precincts in the 34th district.Â That averages out to around two (2) votes per precinct.Â If the lines had been just a little longer, or just a little more wide spread it is likely that Lynn Daucher would have a greater percentage of votes, possibly enough to win.
Now that it appears that Correa will be moving on to the State Senate it is time to review a few critical, and outstanding, concerns that were raised in Orange County on November 7th.Â I posted a question on Election Night that should concern both Democrats and Republicans; How long would you wait to vote?
For me the answer is simple; as long as it takes.Â But for a mother with child care concerns or someone on the way to work, or an elderly person who has difficulty standing in line for a long time, the answer is more than likely “To hell with voting, it probably doesn’t matter anyway.”Â Based upon any number of election contests decided on November 7th, the fact of the matter is that those votes could have made the difference.
In a country that proclaims its love for freedom, liberty, and democracy, it is an extreme injustice that we cannot find a way to effectively conduct elections that allow everyone the opportunity to vote. This past election seems to have been wrought with failures that to a certain extent appear to be avoidable and therefore unforgivable. Such problems as Permanent Vote by Mail voters (seniors) not getting their ballots, widespread voting equipment failures; long lines (up to 3 hours long), insufficient numbers of paper ballots available to compensate for the lines and broken machines, poll workers refusing to issue paper ballots when requested, an insufficient numbers of poll workers, and not nearly enough of the electronic voting machines to handle the number of voters given the length of the ballot.
At the risk of getting overly technical I would like to review a couple provisions of the California Election Code. First is Section 14102 which states that “for every election, the elections official shall provide a sufficient number of official ballots in each precinct to reasonably meet the needs of the voters in that precinct on election day using the precinct’s voter turnout history as the criterion, but in no case shall this number be less than 75 percent of registered voters for the precinct.”
The practice of combining precincts is both necessary and unavoidable. That is not the problem. The problem is that these polling places only had eight eSlate machines available. In far too many cases, the eight machines could not possibly have handled the load of the the number of voters who actually showed up at the polls, much less 75 percent of the registered voters. Given the length of the ballot and number of registered voters at the polling station I monitored on election night (2030 S. Flower Street, Santa Ana) to meet the requirements of the law, a minimum of 16 and possibly more machines would have been needed.
That brings me to the Election Code Section 14229; “If a precinct board is unable to furnish a ballot to a qualified voter, because there is an insufficient number of ballots at the precinct, the elections official shall deliver to the precinct additional ballots to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballots by 10 p.m. on election day.”Â I know that did not happen where I was because I witnessed the last voter cast her ballot at 10:20 p.m.
Read part 2: CLICK HEREÂ Â Â