Those Requesting Paper Ballots Had Privacy Violated and Votes Entered Into E-Voting Machines Anyway!
By John Gideon on 6/25/2006, 2:33pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon while Brad takes care of other important business related to the Busby/Bilbray fiasco

Many Riverside County California voters went to the polls on primary election day, June 6, with the plan that they would use their right to request paper ballots instead of voting on the Sequoia Edge Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, touch-screen) voting machines.

Those voters will probably be surprised to learn that the county Registrar of Voters thumbed her nose at them. The paper/absentee ballots they were given --- Xerox copies of the ballot on 8 1/2×11 paper --- were then punched into the DRE's by election workers later. On the same touch-screen systems the voters had wanted to avoid by requesting a paper ballot in the first place. This was all done without their knowledge, without their permission, and without their ability to verify that their ballots were recorded as they had voted them.

Moreover, the voters were forced to attach their names and addresses to the ballots! So much for private voting in Riverside!...

UPDATE: Riverside County Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore responded to the story by Art Cassel with a 'Letter To The Editor'. See the text of the letter at the end of this article.

Riverside County voter Art Cassel has written a complete description of the process used at the polls in the county. Art describes the process used for the paper ballots:

"The paper ballots are a story in themselves. To receive a paper ballot, a voter had to ask for one and apply his or her signature next to their name in the precinct roster, exactly the same as any other voter at that precinct. From this point forward, things took a bizarre turn. The person requesting a paper ballot was handed one or two sheets of ordinary white 8 ½ X 11 inch paper with ballots Xeroxed on them. The papers were photocopies of what appeared to be the same as the sample ballots sent out to voters in the mail. They contained no receipt, serial number, or authenticity marking indicating they were produced by the Registrar of Voters office.

"After filling out their selections on their paper ballot without any provisions for privacy, the voter was handed an envelope in which to insert their ballot. After sealing, submitting the envelope required the voter to print their name, declare that they were 18 years of age, a citizen, lived at their address, and had not previously voted in this election. They then had to declare under penalty of perjury that those statements were true, date, sign, state their birth date, and fill in their address on the envelope. In order to receive that paper ballot, their name had to appear on the precinct roster and they had to sign in. Any person voting on an electronic voting machine was finished with providing their information when they signed the roster. They then received an access card, voted and were on their way. When the paper ballots were opened, those casting them lost all privacy. Their name was on the envelope and their votes in plain sight when removed. So much for anonymity! Yet the best was kept for last, completely out of sight of the concerned voter."

Thanks to Art, we also have a copy of the instructions [PDF] that were used by elections workers to do this work.

UPDATE: Barbara Dunmore Response
In a letter to the editor of a local Riverside County newspaper, RoV Barbara Dunmore responded to the article by Art Cassel. In that response she does not respond to any of the charges made by Art but she only attempts to call his attention of this matter into issue. Her letter follows:

Distrust not to blame for rise in absentee votes

Once again, Art Cassel is just plain wrong. ("Distrust spurs absentee voting," June 21). He contends that more people use absentee ballots these days because they mistrust electronic voting. In fact, a Field Poll conducted in November 2005 shows a steady increase in absentee voting in California going back 30 years, long before electronic voting was used.

Absentee voting was opened up to all voters in the late 1970s when the law eliminated requirements for absentee voters to declare a physical handicap or show they would be out of state on Election Day. Many people prefer voting absentee as a way to cope with long, complex ballots. Absentee ballots are a convenient choice, extending the "voting window" from 13 hours on Election Day to three or four weeks. And absentee voters avoid the prospects of bad weather and long lines at the polls.

Mr. Cassel is just as mistaken about absentee voters as he is about voters losing their privacy when they cast paper ballots on Election Day. Paper ballots are accorded the same respect for privacy and confidentiality as absentee ballots. No votes are divulged in public. The registrar of voters office operates with complete integrity and will continue to bar election observers like Mr. Cassel (who routinely show up with video cameras) from videotaping confidential voter information.

Barbara Dunmore
Registrar of Voters
Riverside County

Our thanks to BlackBoxVoting.Org for the tip on the letter