Every California voter who wishes to vote on a paper ballot in this year's general election may do so, The BRAD BLOG has learned, according to an October 3rd, 2006 memo issued by the California Secretary of State's office!
The terse, single-page internal memo, sent to "All County Clerks/Registrars of Voters/Vendors" on CA SoS stationery (download complete memo here [PDF]) instructs elections officials across the state that they should "have an adequate supply of paper ballots" if electronic voting machines should break down or "if a voter chooses not to vote on electronic equipment."
Written by CA's Asst. SoS, Susan Lapsley, the memo was issued in apparent response to our recent call for Congress to introduce and pass immediate "Emergency Paper Ballot" legislation. While bills were subsequently introduced in both the House and Senate, neither chamber succeeded in voting on the legislation before adjourning for the election recess. Eagle-eyed BRAD BLOG readers may remember Lapsley as the one behind the Busby/Bilbray fax to Congress, declaring the Republican Bilbray the winner of the recent CA50 U.S. House Special Election to replace "Duke" Cunningham weeks before it was certified, while thousands of votes remained to be counted --- and well after we had already exposed that the tainted election included voting machine "sleepovers" with poll workers in the days and weeks prior, in contravention of both state and federal law.
Lapsley's memo was written just after Congress adjourned and prior to the letter [PDF] we sent last week, along with more than 50 other Election Integrity organizations and leaders, to all 50 Secretaries of State and Governors calling on them to institute immediate plans and procedures for Emergency Paper Ballots.
The good news here, as we see it, is that all California voters across what Diebold refers to as "the country's largest voting market" may now demand paper ballots when they go to the polling place this year. This will be crucial in counties such as San Diego and San Joaquin, where the Registrars of Voters have chosen to side with the voting machine companies instead of the voters by supplying only hackable touch-screen Diebold voting machines for their citizens this year.
In enormous Los Angeles County, which includes some 8 million voters, such dangerously unreliable touch-screen systems are used only for early voting. It seems clear, however, from Lapsley's memo, that even early voters in LA County may now choose to vote on paper ballots instead!
From the CA SoS' memo...
This back-up supply can be absentee ballots or other option as determined to be reasonable by the elections official. If absentee ballots are used at the polls the voter need NOT apply for an absentee ballot in order to be able to use it to vote at the polls. You may also use paper provisional ballots to satisfy voters wishing to vote on paper in the event that DRE counties do not have a sufficient supply of absentee ballots to satisy the needs of the precinct voters. In such instances, the ballots of verified eligible voters who wish to vote on paper and are provided a provisional ballot to do so should not be treated as a provisional ballot cast but, rather, as a regular ballot.
Seems clear enough to us. And, we believe, it's very good news for the voters of California in general.
With that in mind, however, some Election Integrity Advocates have expressed concern about the vagaries and other dangers of the Lapsley memo, including the Democratic Secretary of State candidate Debra Bowen and election attorney Paul Lehto, both of whom we have immense respect for...