Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Decline-to-state voters' ballots in L.A. may get counted

Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors questioned Acting Registrar of Voters Dean Logan about the report his office issued Monday, which concluded that an estimated 49,500 votes from decline-to-state voters would go uncounted. According to this story in the San Francisco Chronicle by Joe Garofoli, LA election officials will attempt to tally those ballots after all. According to the Chronicle, "Logan's next step after consulting with his staff and legal officials is creating a process to determine how many ballots to review and then figure whom those voters were supporting. His deadline is March 4, when the California vote must be certified."

The Daily Breeze also covered yesterday's meeting. That story is below. Transcripts of LA County Supervisors' meetings are available online within 24-48 hours of the meeting.


At least some of the estimated 49,500 uncounted, nonpartisan ballots from the Feb. 5 primary election could be tallied after all, Acting Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan told county supervisors Tuesday.

In a report released Monday, Logan said it would be "impossible to determine with certainty for which candidate the voter intended to vote" but altered his view when questioned by the county board Tuesday afternoon.

Voters who had registered nonpartisan could request an American Independent or Democratic ballot but were told they also had to mark on the ballot which party they were voting for, and many forgot to make that additional mark.

The ballot bubbles for the American Independent and the Democratic guides overlapped on slots 8 through 10, meaning it would be unclear which candidate nonpartisan voters chose if they did not also indicate which party's primary they were voting in.

However, the Democratic ballot included eight choices and the American Independent only three, meaning they did not overlap for slots 11 through 15 - notably including the slots for Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky pointed out that even if a ballot did not note which party the voter meant to select, if voters marked between slots 11 and 15, their choices were clear.

"Of those that don't fall into that Never-Never Land, why wouldn't we be able to identify at least those ... and count the ones that are countable? It may be a pain in the butt to do it, and it may be costly, but it seems to me that it's doable," Yaroslavsky said. "To say out of the box that we're not even going to try, that angers people. It angers me, and I'm not one of the aggrieved voters."

Initially, Logan said that the fact that the Republican Party's ballot guide included slots 8 through 18 and that a voter could have wandered into the wrong voting booth by accident would mean that there was still ambiguity, but his objection was rejected by Yaroslavsky.

"Hypothetically, it's possible, but it's not reasonable," he said.

The board directed Logan to see if there is a way to tally the uncounted votes before the results are certified.

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