Tuesday, February 26, 2008

LA Registrar informs Board, SoS of his vote-counting plans

Yesterday Los Angeles County's Acting Registrar of Voters Dean Logan sent this letter to Secretary of State Debra Bowen informing her of his plans to comply with requests by Bowen as well as the county's Board of Supervisors to count as many of the "double bubble" votes as can be accurately counted. Mr. Logan has also sought and received legal analysis from the Los Angeles County Counsel's office.

This is a big improvement over where the situation was two weeks ago, when Mr. Logan informed the Board of Supervisors that he would not count the votes on ballots where "Decline to state" (DTS) voters marked the presidential candidate choice but failed to mark the party choice on the ballot. Initially he said these votes could not be accurately counted because some American Independent Party candidates' ballot positions overlap with Democratic Party candidates' positions. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky pointed that for many of the ballots there is a choice made outside of the overlap so the voter's intent can be accurately determined.

In her letter to Mr. Logan, Secretary of State Debra Bowen requested the pollbooks that pollworkers mark to indicate DTS voters' crossover preferences can also be consulted to accurately count some of the votes in question. For example, if the pollbook in a precinct shows that all the DTS voters in that precinct requested a Democratic ballot, the votes from that precinct can be counted toward the Democratic candidates.

Although Mr. Logan states in his letter that he believes the criteria he will use to count the votes in question meet the objectives outlined in the Secretary of State's letter, his plan, at least as it is outlined in his letter to Secretary Bowen, falls short of one of her requests. The Secretary of State also requested that the registrar determine the number of ballots, on a precinct-by-precinct basis, where voters correctly filled in both bubbles, only filled in the presidential candidate bubble, or filled in neither bubbles.

Mr. Logan's decision to count as many votes as he possibly can is a step in the right direction; however, the public is entited to a full accounting of the scope of this fiasco, and deserves to know how many votes will not be counted.

Congratulations to Rick Jacobs and the folks at the Courage Campaign for all of their hard work on this issue -- their grassroots organizing efforts have been incredibly successful and effective.

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