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The Coming DTS Meltdown In LA County

by: David Dayen

Tue Feb 05, 2008 at 13:06:12 PM PST

(I wonder what we'll be dealing with the rest of the week. bump. - promoted by Lucas O'Connor)

So I went to my polling place at an off-hour to see if turnout was decent (it was pretty average, in my view).  It was a new location for me, in a little art gallery featuring an exhibit called "Patriot Acts" (yes, a politically themed art installation in a polling place.  Ah, the People's Republic of Santa Monica).  I had no problem getting my ballot and heading to the booth.  The guy behind me was a DTS voter who had no idea that Republicans didn't allow them to vote in the primary.  "I wouldn't vote for the Republicans anyway," he yelled as he took a Democratic ballot.  But nobody told him to make sure to fill out that Democratic oval to re-assert that he, as a nonpartisan voter, requested a Democratic ballot (as if taking the ballot in the first place wasn't enough of a clue).  So I told him.

My neighbor was headed to the polls; she's also a DTS voter.  I told her to make sure to fill out that Democratic oval.  She said she kind of heard something about that but wasn't sure.

I've received more than a couple emails from DTS voters thanking me for telling them about the issue, or saying that they didn't fill out the bubble, asking me whether or not their votes will be counted.

This is a NIGHTMARE.  An absolute nightmare.  This has been in place since 2002, and somehow the evidence from 2004, when so few DTS voters participated in the Democratic primary in LA County, wasn't enough to dummy-proof the system.  Thousands upon thousands of voters are going to be disenfranchised today.  I can't reach them all; neither can the CDP.  The Secretary of State must demand that all those DTS ballots are impounded, the machines recalibrated to eliminate this problem, and all votes reread through the feeder.  In a race so close, we cannot have this crisis of confidence.

UPDATE: I'm on a conference call with the Obama campaign right now and they're talking about this very issue.  "There is great concern" in Los Angeles County, and "the pollworkers are confused" about this as well, according to the lawyer on the phone now (I would use the word "ignorant" and not confused).  "We're hoping the Secretary of State and the County Registrar will rectify this situation" but they don't sound particularly hopeful.

DTS voters are also being denied ballots in selected counties, according to the campaign.

Carla Marinucci is wondering why this wasn't challenged previously.  This has been in place in LA County in multiple election cycles, and knowing that DTS voters would show up in record numbers, I agree that it should have been caught earlier.  My point is that the Secretary of State's office or the county registrar should have been the ones to catch it.  The lawyer just said "We hope that they will adopt procedures to make sure these ballots are counted," and if they aren't adopted, he raised the option of legal challenges.

These ballots almost certainly won't be counted tonight, and keep that in mind when you start seeing the results roll in.

They're hoping that the media gets this out.  I'm trying.

UPDATE II: From Ezra Klein:

From the inbox: This is really weird. From the Clinton campaign:
* False reports about voting problems in LA are being drudged up
- Everything is going smoothly in LA.

What a revolting statement (if true).

Update (Lucas): LA City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has a statement out now.

"I urge the Secretary of State and County Registrar to do everything within their power to ensure that every vote is counted, and to carefully weigh voter intent against this confusing Los Angeles County ballot design.
David Dayen :: The Coming DTS Meltdown In LA County
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Seriously (7.25 / 4)
Can I just thank Steve Reyes the Courage Campaign lawyer about this right now.  A former law student of his emailed late last week about it.  Steve got on the phone with the LA County Registar over the weekend about this.  Now people are paying attention.

This as Dave says should have been caught years ago.

Fucking A.

[ Parent ]
Stupid question (0.00 / 0)
If they give you a DEM ballot, how does the machine know its a DTS voter (and thus not count the other bubbles)??

Or do they actually give you a DTS ballot and instruct you to go to the DEM booths?

...with liberty and justice for al[most everybody].

I believe the latter (0.00 / 0)
The ballot is functionally the same (my ballot had that democratic bubble and I considered filling it in), but the scan-tron sheet must have some kind of DTS demarcation on it.

[ Parent ]
This is absurd (0.00 / 0)
Regardless of who one supports in the primary, it borders on farcical that this problem hasn't been resolved by now.  And the resolution shouldn't be that David, the CDP, or the poll workers have to tell individual DTS voters one by one.

As a matter of public policy, this seems like it should be easily resolvable:  remove the "party bubble", and when a DTS voter requests a Dem primary ballot (or a Republican primary ballot if they chose to change their rules) that is considered the official confirmation of their intent.  Argh.  

is this only in LA? (0.00 / 0)
my DTS brother didn't mention having to check an extra bubble, up here in yolo. but then, we have a superlative county clerk in freddie oakley.

only LA (0.00 / 0)
I'm in San Diego and ours didn't have this. It's only LA county.

[ Parent ]
whew (8.00 / 1)
well, aside from it being the biggest county in the state and everything, that is.

[ Parent ]
Victim? (8.00 / 3)
I'm a DTS voter who re-registered to Dem last month. Got Confirmation card last week. I've been hearing "make sure you request Dem Ballot!" never anything about 'then vote for Dem canidate but don't forget to mark bubble stating that you just voted for Dem canidate!" So, at polling place was still on rolls as DTS. Got Dem ballot and didn't notice 'THE EXTRA BUBBLE'. Nice! Vote probably didn't count after all this. Well, I going to pretend it did and send Obama some cash to make myself feel better!

Actually, I think it will count (0.00 / 0)
if you re-registered Dem last month, your vote probably will count. I think this problem only affects DTS voters. Not sure about that though.

I think?

[ Parent ]
probably not (0.00 / 0)
what matters is not the registration but the ballot.  If (s)he filled out a DTS ballot without the bubble, then it wouldn't be counted.  At least not right away.

[ Parent ]
Damn (0.00 / 0)

We need the ROV to do a count of these ballots.  Voter intent, like yours is really clear.

[ Parent ]
A Brian is right (0.00 / 0)
this is just DTS voters. If you are a registered Dem then there is no problem.

Sorry, I'm just slightly fired up about this.

[ Parent ]
I don't think so in this case (0.00 / 0)
(S)he was on the rolls as a DTS voter.  Everyone who wanted to vote in the Dem primary "got a Dem ballot."  But there is a particular demarcation on those DTS voters that got a Dem ballot which requires that oval to be filled out.

This affects anyone who got the DTS version of the Dem ballot.

[ Parent ]
Yep (0.00 / 0)
if (s)he was on the rolls mistakenly as a DTS then would have gotten the special DTS ballot for people who request to vote for president.  And then would have needed to fill in the bubble.

[ Parent ]
Ballots (0.00 / 0)
If you got a Dem ballot that didn't have a bubble for you to certify that you were voting in the Dem Primary (i.e. it wasn't a DTS ballot) then you should be fine.  

[ Parent ]
I asked my pollworkers about this (0.00 / 0)
I was curious as to whether the statement about the ability of DTS voters to vote in the Democratic primary was being made known to all DTS voters.  They were telling all DTS voters they could vote in the Democratic primary.  The woman told me that at training everyone in LA County was told to read a script to the DTS voters when they came to get a ballot that told them about the fact they could vote Democratic.  At my friend's polling place in Altadena, they weren't telling DTS voters this.  However, I didn't hear anywhere about a bubble one had to fill in.  Does anyone know if it was in the script that was read to DTS voters, or was supposed to be read to DTS voters?

I'm contacting the Secretary of State right now.  

Here's SOS Bowen's contact info (0.00 / 0)
General Information - Elections Division
Secretary of State's Office
1500 11th Street, 5th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 657-2166
Fax: (916) 653-3214
E-Mail: elections@sos.ca.gov

[ Parent ]
Here's a question (0.00 / 0)
If you vote Democratic as a DTS voter, and you don't fill in the bubble, shouldn't the scanning machine kick the ballot out as incomplete?

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