Wednesday, March 5, 2008

12,000 presidential votes go uncounted in Los Angeles

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County certified its election results from the February 5, 2008 presidential primary. Under the additional counting methods suggested by the Secretary of State, the County Board of Supervisors and LA County Counsel, the registrar's office was able to count 80 percent of the "decline-to-state" voters' ballots that were cast in the presidential contest where voters failed to mark the party preference bubble. 12,013 votes could not be counted because their votes were in ballot positions shared by two candidates and voter intent could not be determined with 100 percent accuracy.

This article by Alison Hewitt in the Whittier Daily News provides additional details. Excerpts are below. On Friday, there will be a joint legislative hearing in Los Angeles to examine the "double bubble" fiasco and other voting problems in the Feb. 5 California primary. I will be testifying at the hearing; an agenda is available online. Unfortunately, there will be neither a video or audio live webcast available.

County election officials announced Monday they tallied nearly 80 percent of the uncounted "double bubble" presidential ballots cast by nonpartisan voters in February's primary election.

Officials had estimated 50,000 uncounted ballots, but that total increased to 59,174 when a final count, including provisional ballots, was taken.

The count, completed Sunday, had no effect on the outcome of the primary.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton received 51 percent of the 47,153 votes that were counted. Barack Obama gained 42 percent of those same ballots.

Just over 12,000 votes could not be interpreted, said Dean Logan, the acting registrar-recorder/county clerk.

"You never want a situation when votes cannot be counted," Logan said. "But given the situation and the extraordinary effort that went into interpreting voter intent, I'm very satisfied with being able to count 80 percent of these."


Conversations with the Secretary of State's Office and county counsel helped Logan develop a plan to legally interpret and count most of the votes, precinct by precinct. Votes in bubbles 11-15, which were assigned to Democratic candidates, were all counted. Votes in bubbles 8-10, which were assigned to both parties, were counted only if voter roles showed all the nonpartisan voters from a precinct asked to crossover Democratic.

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