The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters has posted the vote counts for the 12,013 Primary decline-to-state ballots that could not be counted with 100 percent accuracy and so were not included in the certified results. This action helps bring greater transparency to the "double bubble" fiasco and I congratulate the county for doing it.
Today's Daily Breeze features this article by Gene Maddaus about yesterday's hearing. It is featured below.
Los Angeles County elections officials came under fire Friday for voting problems that caused more than 12,000 presidential votes to go uncounted in the February primary.
At a hearing conducted by state legislators in Los Angeles, Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Redondo Beach, criticized former Registrar-Recorder Conny McCormack for not doing more to prevent the "double bubble" glitch that initially threatened to disenfranchise about 60,000 nonpartisan, or decline-to-state, voters.
McCormack, who retired in January, argued that her office was so consumed with the effort to recertify the InkaVote system as a whole that it did not review the nonpartisan ballot design. The ballot, which has been in place since 2002, required decline-to-state voters to mark an extra bubble to indicate whether they were voting for a Democrat or for an American Independent candidate.
McCormack argued that the ballots were designed to accommodate the complexity of California's primary system, in which parties can choose whether to allow unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in their elections.
"In hindsight, we can see 20/20," McCormack said. "We don't sit around thinking, `How many people can we disenfranchise today?' That's not what we do."
McCormack praised Acting Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan for taking steps to resolve the problem. But the audience - largely made up of election protection activists - greeted Logan with boos. Logan has been criticized for initially saying that it would be impossible to count any of the nonpartisan ballots in which voters had not filled in the second bubble.
Responding to a public outcry, Logan ultimately was able to count about 48,000 of those ballots. Sen. Hillary Clinton won those votes by a 51-42 percentage over Sen. Barack Obama, roughly equal to her victory margin statewide.
It was assumed that nonpartisan voters would more heavily favor Obama, and it was the Obama campaign that drew the most attention to the "double bubble" issue on election day. In response, the Clinton campaign accused the Obama campaign of cynicism and of trying to cast doubt on the outcome of the California primary.
The 48,000 nonpartisan ballots that were recently tabulated did not affect the allocation of delegates in the presidential primary.
Logan has said the "double bubble" design will not be used for the June 3 primary.
Election specialists have urged the county to dispense with the InkaVote system in favor of a system in which the candidates' names would appear on the actual ballots, as is done in every other county in the state. That would allow voters to be sure they had voted for the correct person.
Oropeza, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Integrity of Elections, said she planned to draft legislation to improve poll worker training, ballot instructions and communication between the Secretary of State's Office and the county registrars.
She also criticized the culture of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's Office, saying it had shown a tendency to be "rigid in one's point of view, and to not listen when there's going to be a problem."
Oropeza said she would also urge other legislators from Los Angeles County to get together to advocate that the InkaVote system be scrapped.