February 12, 2008
"Some independent votes won't count in L.A. County"
"An estimated 49,500 votes were cast incorrectly in Los Angeles County by nonpartisan voters in the presidential primaries and cannot be counted because the voters' intentions are unclear, acting Registrar Dean Logan said Monday." Meltdown averted only by Election Administrator's prayer being answered: "Logan said the lost votes would not affect the outcome of the presidential races or the allocation of Democratic Party delegates by congressional district because in each case the margins were too large."
Some thoughts on the way the story is developing:
I should note, that, based on an interview with Bob Stern on Olney's show yesterday, approximately 200,000 ballots still remained to be counted in LA County (absentees and provisional ballots). Add to this, up to 49,500 possible DTS votes that could be affected and still counted...Thus, I think it is premature to view as a foregone conclusion that the outcomes would be unaffected on a congressional district-by-district basis. At any rate, I also believe that regardless of whether the outcome is affected, voters should have the confidence that ballot design errors will not result in their votes being cast aside -- there are also a variety of statutory mechanisms, that permit the Registrar and the Supes to seek judicial /declaratory relief and/or extra time to examine ballots for an accurate vote count.
Finally, the issue of not being able to ascertain voter intent as suggested by Logan is in my view, wildly incorrect. For at least a good portion of those DTS voters that did not mark the party selection bubbles (5 or 6), they cast votes for candidates in slots 11-15. No other party, besides the Democratic Party had candidates in slots 11-15 that DTS voters were authorized to vote for. The fact that Republicans had candidates in 8-18 ignores the fact that DTS voters were not authorized to vote a Republican ballot. Taken to its logical conclusion, accepting Logan's assumptions that some DTS voters could have walked into a Republican voting booths and intent is thereby obscured, would necessarily result in all ballots (straight Dem ballots, straight Green ballots,etc. being viewed as suspect since those types of intentional or inadvertent errors are possible with all voters. Of course, those assumptions aren’t made and the machines dutifully tally votes for whom voters are authorized to cast a ballot -- even if they walked into the wrong booth. Nothing changes with DTS voters.
Sorry for the hasty response..
Disclosure: I represent Courage Campaign, which brought this issue to the Registrar's attention before the election.
Posted by Rick Hasen at February 12, 2008 07:52 AM