Hundreds of Thousands of Non-Partisan Voter Ballots May Not be Counted in California's Open Democratic Primary Election
City Attorney Calls for Review by CA SoS, County Registrar of Voters...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2008, 12:07am PT  

Alright, we've got a bona fide mess here in Los Angeles County. We covered this a bit earlier tonight, but have been speaking with various precinct captains and trying to figure out exactly what's going on. As mentioned it's a confusing mess, and could indeed be shaping up as "California's Butterfly Ballot" as far as we can tell.

There are two main problems:

  1. Many voters who thought they were registering as non-partisan independents have been surprised to learn they registered instead as members of the "American Independent" party, and thus, were not allowed to vote in the open Democratic primary.
  2. More insidiously, those independent non-partisan voters who did successfully manage to get registered as "Decline to State" (or DTS, or Non-Partisan), were allowed to vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary if they requested to do so when voting. However, without filling in a certain bubble on the ballot, specifying they wanted it to be counted in the Dem Primary, their vote for President, according to LA County's Registrar of Voters, will not be counted.

After being up since dawn, we hope to get some rest tonight shortly, and will then get a clearer picture on all of this, and the myriad other problems reported elsewhere in California and around the nation tomorrow (and beyond).

For now then, our friend Jake Soboroff at Why Tuesday has a video interview, posted below, with LA City attorney, Rocky Delgadillo who is also expressing concerns about what is becoming known as the "Double Bubble Trouble" issue. As well, Delgadillo gives a full statement to CBS2 News, calling for review of the issue, which could well disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, by CA SoS Debra Bowen and LA County's acting Registrar of Voters Dean Logan.

Logan arrives here fresh from from his reign over the disastrous 2004 gubernatorial election mess in Washington state. He replaces the recently-resigned LA County Registrar and Diebold cover girl, Conny "Cut and Run" McCormack, who seemingly left this ridiculous scheme in place as a parting gift to LA County voters.

We'll post Soboroff's video of the interview, as well as Delgadillo's statement below. First, Soboroff describes the confusing situation very well...

Here’s the trouble: In the voting booth, voters must then mark a bubble on the ballot that confirms the voter is indeed voting on a Democratic ballot. If they fail to mark, their ballots go uncounted. And further, if a voter neglects to fill in this bubble, a voting machine will not return the ballot because the vote is counted as an under-vote. In Los Angeles County alone, 776,000 voters are susceptible to double bubble trouble.

Needless to say, many decline-to-state voters were confused. After all, by requesting the ballot in the first place, voters are already in essence filling out this bubble. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that poll workers have also been uninformed. Decline-to-state voters were denied the right to participate within the Democratic Primary, and were given non-partisan ballots.

20% of Californians consider themselves, and are registered as, decline-to-state voters, yet in this historical nomination process their voice is jeopardized by baffling ballot rules and puzzled poll workers.

Here's Jake's quick interview with Delgadillo...


The statement from Delgadillo, calling for a review of the matter and reported by LA's CBS2 News, is posted in full below...

Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo Tuesday issued the following statement in the wake of numerous reports of wide-spread nonpartisan voter confusion over Los Angeles County's "double bubble" voter ballot:

"I have heard numerous reports from voters throughout the City of Los Angeles which point to wide-spread voter confusion over Los Angeles County's so-called 'double-bubble' Decline-to-State non-partisan voter ballot. We understand this ballot is unique to the County of Los Angeles.

"In light of these reports, I am calling upon Secretary of State Debra Bowen and L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan to review the county's unique and potentially confusing ballot design.

"It would be unfortunate if non-partisan voters, confused by the county's unique "double bubble" ballot design, did not have their vote counted.

"I urge the Secretary of State and County Registrar to do everything within their power to ensure that every vote is counted, and to carefully weigh voter intent against this confusing Los Angeles County ballot design.

"Los Angeles' non-partisan voters must not be disenfranchised because of a confusing ballot design."

Got all that?

It really shouldn't be this hard to vote, to have your vote counted, and to know your vote was counted accurately (an additional problem which we haven't even managed to get to yet on this issue!)