Wednesday, February 27, 2008

LA Supervisors ask for full accounting of double bubble trouble

Yesterday at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' hearing, Acting Registrar of Voters Dean Logan presented the Board with his plan for counting the votes from decline-to-state voters on ballots that did not include the second mark indicating the party preference. Mr. Logan reported to the board of his plans to count the votes where voter intent could be accurately determined because either the candidate ballot position was not shared by more than one candidate, or the pollbook shows that all the Decline-to-state voters in the precinct voted with the same party.

As I pointed out in yesterday's blog post, this solution, while an improvement, falls short of what the Secretary of State requested, which is a full accounting of all of the decline-to-state ballots. Fortunately, Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Yvonne Burke are on top of the situation.

At yesterday's hearing they insisted that Mr. Logan provide a full accounting of all of the votes that are going uncounted, according to this article by Alison Hewitt in today's Pasadena Star News. Here's the relevant excerpt:


Supervisors Yvonne Burke and Yaroslavsky asked that Logan also tally the final number of votes that could not be counted, "so the public knows what the damage was," Yaroslavsky said. Burke requested that those figures be broken down by congressional district.

"(This) would mean that 175,000 out of the 200,000 independent voters who came to the polls will have been counted, and probably more," Yaroslavsky said. "I am glad that we're not using this system ever again."


Kudos to Supervisors Burke and Yaroslavsky for pushing for a full accounting of this fiasco. Without it, there will be lingering questions and doubts, which will serve to feed conspiracy theories and foment distrust of the elections department. To be fully transparent and accountable the county would, and should also tally the votes that they cannot count with one hundred percent accuracy.

ALL of the votes can be counted, after all, but they may not be able to be included in the certified results because they can't be counted with one hundred percent accuracy. They can, however, be counted with about 98 percent accuracy. For example, let's say there are 18,000 votes that cannot be counted with one hundred percent accuracy. The registrar of voters could still count them and release results that say: "8,000 of these votes would have gone for either Barack Obama or Mad Max Riekse; 8,000 would have gone for either Hillary Clinton or Don Grundmann; and 2,000 would have gone for John Edwards or Diane Beall Templin". Then the public can review those results and come to their own conclusions about whether they would have had an impact on the delegate count or not. The other advantage of doing this is that all the voters who participated would see their votes show up someplace -- maybe not in the certified results, but at least show up in some on-the-record way.

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