Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reports of scattered problems in California on Election Day

Overall things appear to have gone pretty smoothly in California on Election Day yesterday, but there was a report, apparently not yet substantiated, of a dirty trick played on Latino voters in Los Angeles. Excerpts from Jim Sanders' story in the Sacramento Bee are featured below.

California election watchdogs were attempting today to track down reports of a dirty trick aimed at keeping Los Angeles Latino voters from the polls - but no hard evidence of wrongdoing had surfaced by early evening.
Shannan Velayas, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Debra Bowen, said the office could not confirm that Spanish-language robocalls or a mailer had been sent to Los Angeles Latinos urging them to cast votes Wednesday - the day after today's election.
"The secretary of state takes these allegations very seriously," Velayas said. "We are asking anyone who may have a recording to share it with the secretary of state's office because our investigators have not heard an actual recording."
Efrain Escobedo, spokesman for the Los Angeles registrar of voters said much the same thing: The office had received unconfirmed reports of such shenanigans but nobody had stepped forward with proof.
Los Angeles' voter officials routinely contacted the secretary of state and the attorney general's office about the reports. Meanwhile, it is stressing to voters that polls will be open until 8 p.m. today.
Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, said she is participating in a nonprofit coalition, Election Protection, that received from the California Democratic Party the addresses of about two dozen people who allegedly had received a robocall or mailer providing an erroneous election date.
Feng said the affected voters live in south or central Los Angeles, within heavily Latino neighborhoods encompassing about six zip codes.
"We don't know if it's real or not," Feng said, noting that many hours had passed since the initial reports and no hard evidence had surfaced.
Tenoch Flores, California Democratic Party spokesman, described the reports as "rumor and second hand."
"We're looking into (the reports), but more importantly, we're reminding people that today is, in fact, Election Day," Flores said.
The attorney general's office released no information today about the alleged wrongdoing.
Feng said there have been other incidents of political dirty tricks targeting minority communities in years past.
In 2006, thousands of naturalized citizens with Latino surnames living in Orange County received a letter falsely stating that they could be arrested if they tried to vote in balloting for the seat of Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Anaheim.

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