Vote by Mail Ballots Mailed for Assembly District 51 Special Primary Election

September 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) said it has mailed 82,742 Vote by Mail (VBM) Ballots for the Oct. 3rd Assembly District 51 Special Primary Election, adding that there is still time to request a Vote by Mail Ballot.

Election officials also announced that early voting has opened at the County Registrar-Recorder’s office in Norwalk, on the 3rd floor. Weekend Early Voting will also be available at the East Los Angeles County Library and Cypress Park Branch Library on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 from 8am-4pm.

VBM voters who choose to vote at their polling place on Election Day must bring their ballot to surrender, or they will be asked to cast a Provisional Ballot. For translated election materials in Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai or Vietnamese, call (800) 815-2666, option 3.

Stand Up and Be Counted – Maybe

October 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It took Nick Alati half a day to cast a ballot in Arizona’s August primary — and his vote didn’t even count.

A self-employed home inspector in suburban Phoenix, Alati had moved recently. He tried to update his registration information, but never received a new voters card. On primary day, he went to the precinct in his old neighborhood, but poll workers turned him away, sending him to another spot. That precinct, not finding him in the rolls, sent him right back.

There is no act more central to a democracy than voting. Electionland is a project that will cover access to the ballot and problems that prevent people from exercising their right to vote during the 2016 election. Read more and sign up.

Back at the first precinct, poll workers allowed him to fill out a provisional ballot. Under federal law, no one who wants to vote can just be turned away: Instead, people are allowed to vote provisionally when there are questions about their eligibility, though some of these ballots are discarded for a variety of reasons.

Alati went ahead and filled out the form, even though he suspected his vote might be tossed. Still, when I told him his vote indeed had been disallowed because he’d voted in the wrong places, Alati said it was upsetting.

“I tried very hard to be registered,” said Alati, calling the back-and-forth between polling places a “pain in the butt” and “time off without pay.”

“I’m not getting paid to go vote, it’s my job as a citizen of the United States,” he said.

State-to-state differences in the handling of provisional ballots can end up leaving people like Alati disenfranchised.

Alati was one of 3,330 people in Maricopa County who voted with a provisional ballot in the August primaries. Some 1,300 of these votes were discarded, more than half for the same reason as his was. At the time, poll workers weren’t allowed to warn voters that provisional ballots cast in the wrong location would be wasted, said Elizabeth Bartholomew, communications director for the Maricopa County Elections Department.

“We didn’t want to leave it up to poll workers to say that their ballot would not count,” she said.

Provisional ballots can be indicators of deeper voting issues — or not, said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. When unusually large numbers are cast somewhere, it can be a sign that the state hasn’t properly updated voter rolls, or that they’ve done a poor job communicating with voters about ID requirements or polling locations. But it can also indicate a state is just trying extra hard to let people vote. Similarly, states that reject high numbers of provisional ballots may have rules that are overly strict — or just be good at detecting ineligible voters.

Prompted by the 2000 election, when thousands of would-be voters were turned away in Florida, federal legislators passed a bill mandating that all states offer provisional voting except for the handful that already offered same-day registration. But the law set few guidelines on how to count provisional ballots, or under what circumstances they can be tossed out; there remain substantial differences in how provisional ballots are treated state-to-state — and even county-to-county.

Voters cast provisional ballot for lots of reasons. In almost all states with voter ID laws, for example, people without appropriate identification can vote provisionally; their ballots are supposed to count as long as they return to specified locations with proof of who they are.

In the 2012 election, some 2.7 million voters cast provisional ballots, about a quarter of which were disallowed. According to the Election Administration Commission, the top reasons provisional ballots are rejected nationwide are that voters aren’t registered (38 percent) or vote at the wrong site (25 percent).

But the likelihood that a ballot gets tossed for a particular reason can vary sharply from state to state: In Texas, 15 percent of provisional ballots were rejected for being cast in the incorrect place; in Ohio, it was 28 percent; in Indiana, it was 45 percent.

Experts say some states likely do a poor job of informing voters where they’re supposed to vote — and that casting provisional ballot in the wrong place is likely futile. Poll workers routinely get only a few hours of training and may not know the consequences of voting in the wrong spot, or may not express those consequences to voters.

Voters themselves sometimes refuse to listen when poll workers try to tell them where to go and what to do.

“Many voters will just say, ‘No, I want to vote,’” said Tammy Patrick, a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center (and an Electionland advisor). Patrick, who served on a 2014 presidential commission to modernize voting and address problems, also said she’s seen party officials, lawyers and others stop voters from leaving polling places and demand that they ask for provisional ballots.

Fifteen states, including California, count portions of provisional ballots cast in the wrong precincts or jurisdictions, accepting votes for candidates for statewide or federal offices that could have been cast anywhere or that apply to wherever a voter is registered.

Arizona, however, is one of 22 states that take a harder line, rejecting such ballots entirely. The Arizona Democratic Party has sued the state over this, as well as having what the plaintiffs say are an inadequate number of polling places.

Following complaints after the August primary that voters were not told their ballots would not be counted if they voted in the wrong precinct, Maricopa County election officials are placing warning signs like these in all polling locations.

“These are individuals who took the time to register to vote, went to the polls on election day, presented the sufficient ID to vote, and yet their ballot was thrown out completely because they went to the wrong precinct,” said Spencer Scharff, voter protection director for the Arizona Democratic Party. “To throw out a ballot when a voter is eligible to vote for the majority of the things on the ballot is disheartening.”

In Maricopa County, complaints came in from both parties after the August primary about poll workers not informing voters that provisional ballots cast in the wrong location almost certainly would not count, Bartholomew said.

Melita Towler was left confused by the process. She’d cast a provisional ballot at the polling place nearest to where she was on primary day and said no one told she needed to vote in the precinct where she was registered. She was surprised to learn that her ballot hadn’t been counted.

“If they had just said that to me, I would have gone somewhere else,” she said. “I’m glad I found this out before the election in November.”

As a result of the complaints, Bartholomew said, the county changed its policy for the November presidential election. “Now, we are training our poll workers to let them know that if you are in the wrong polling place your vote will not count,” she said.

Maricopa County will also place signs reflecting this outside of precincts and near the roll book table, and has ramped up voter education stressing that the law requires voters to vote in the correct precinct.

“This has been in state law for many years, so every single election we try to make sure that these issues get smaller and smaller,” she said. “We’re hoping that number will continue to decrease and voters will go to the correct polling place.”

Whether you are a voter interested in sharing your experience at the polls this fall, or a journalist wanting to be a part of the Electionland coalition, find out more about the project and sign up.


Jessica Huseman is a reporting fellow at ProPublica.


Hillary Clinton Wins Big

June 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Tuesday was a historic night for Hillary Clinton, who became the first woman to claim the presidential nomination of a major political party. She delivered a victory speech in Brooklyn, New York, just hours after polls closed in New Jersey and she was declared the winner.

Even earlier than that speech, however, Clinton wrote on her Twitter page, “To every little girl who dreams big: yes, you can be anything you want — even president. Tonight is for you.”

“Tonight belongs to all of you,” Clinton told her supporters in Brooklyn, telling the crowd they had cracked the glass ceiling.

Yet, despite Clinton claiming the Democratic presidential nomination and winning the California primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told supporters in Santa Monica Tuesday night he will not drop out of the race but will continue fighting “for every vote and every delegate we can get.”

The declaration immediately raised questions about whether Sanders would suspend his campaign.

President Barack Obama telephoned Sanders and congratulated him on his effort. Clinton also called and spoke to Sanders.

But the Vermont Senator remained determined as he took to the stage at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica Tuesday night. With a packed house of supporters chanting his name, one was heard over the crowd yelling, “Don’t quit.”

And Sanders didn’t disappoint. After regaling the crowd with an overview of his campaign’s victories and its transformation from a “fringe” campaign to a political force, he brought the house down by proclaiming, “Next Tuesday, we continue the fight in the last primary in Washington, D.C.”

Hillary Clinton won the California Primary Tuesday. (By Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America)

Hillary Clinton won the California Primary Tuesday. (By Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America)

“We are going to fight hard to win the primary in Washington, D.C., and then we take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” the site of the Democratic National Convention, Sanders said.

“We will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get,” he said.

Sanders has insisted throughout the campaign that he would take his presidential bid all the way to the convention, even if Clinton collects the delegates needed to become the presumptive nominee. He was pinning his hopes on “superdelegates,” who the senator said could throw their support behind him if he had a big win in California.

But as results rolled in, Clinton maintained roughly 55% of the vote to Sanders 43% in unofficial results reported Wednesday.

Sanders barnstormed across California in recent weeks, calling for a “political revolution,” higher wages and improved benefits for workers.

“A moral economy is not an economy where CEOs make tens of millions of dollars a year, ship our jobs abroad and take away health care from their workers,” he said at a recent rally.

Clinton also actively campaigned across California in recent weeks, hoping to make a strong showing, but she has been all but ignoring Sanders — already beginning her anticipated general election battle with Donald Trump.

“We also believe that California represents the future, and it’s a bright future, a positive future,” she said during a Monday rally in Lynwood.

“I am tired of Donald Trump insulting Americans. I am tired of Donald Trump talking down America.

“I am confident and optimistic about our future, but we’re going to have to do some things — like elect the right person to be president of the United States,” she said.

Democratic leaders are hoping to unify the party around Clinton and bring Sander supporters into the fold. Several media outlets reported Wednesday that negotiations are underway between the Clinton and Sanders campaigns and cited the possibility of giving the senator from Vermont a larger say in the party platform coming out of the national convention. Pres. Obama is scheduled to meet with Sanders today, presumably to discuss Sander’s role moving into the General Election.

On Tuesday, Clinton congratulated Sanders for running a tough campaign and thanked him for raising the caliber of the dialogue around issues such as income inequality, climate change and the cost of a college education.

The California primary, which is often a political after-thought in presidential campaigns due to its late date, was envisioned this year as finally having an impact on the election. But that was when the Republican campaign was in full swing, with Trump continuing to do battle with Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

With both Cruz and Rubio dropping out, Trump became the presumptive nominee. Trump has vowed to make a strong run at California during the November election, despite the state’s traditional Democratic leaning. While Trump obviously won the California Republican primary, the results interestingly showed former candidate John Kasich with more than 11 percent of the vote, and Cruz with nearly 9 percent, even though they aren’t running anymore.

Speaking to supporters Tuesday night in New York, Trump — who has been under fire for his comments attacking a federal judge in San Diego as a “Mexican” who should not be handling a lawsuit over Trump University — tried to assure Republicans he will make the party proud.

“I understand the responsibility of carrying the mantle, and I will never, ever let you down,” Trump said.

He also reached out to Sanders supporters, saying he would welcome them into his camp for the general election.

Clinton and Sanders both repudiated Trump Tuesday.

“Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president,” Clinton said. “And he’s not just trying to build a wall between America and Mexico, he’s trying to wall off Americans from each other. When he says, ‘Let’s make America great again,’ that is code for ‘Let’s take America backwards.’”

Sanders added, “The American people in my view will never support a candidate whose major theme is bigotry, who insults Mexicans, who insults Muslims and women and African-Americans. We will not allow Donald Trump to become president of the United States.”City News Service

Voters Take Note: Law Changed On Vote-by-Mail Ballots

February 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Vote-by-Mail applications for the March 3 Primary Election are now available and Bell Gardens Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia is reminding voters of an important change in California law that now requires all applications to be mailed directly to the County Registrar or local Elections Official for processing.

Prior to the change, Vote-by-Mail applications could be mailed or handed over to a third party for processing. Political campaigns in particular would pass out the applications and put the campaign’s return address as the place to mail or drop off the application, Garcia’s office explained in an email.

The practice proved an easy and valuable tool for campaigns to keep track of voters.

The potential for fraud or voters not receiving their ballots in a timely manner was high, said Garcia.

A constituent suggested the change in law last year during the assemblywoman’s “There Oughta Be a Law” contest.

The suggestion prompted Garcia’s office to work with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk to determine if the old process really was a problem and  they found that the number of reports alleging tampering and interference with Vote-by-Mail applications was on the rise.

There was no way for the voter to make sure that the application was in fact submitted on time, said Garcia.

“A voter should be guaranteed that the application will reach the County Registrar or Elections Official in a timely manner, without delay.”

The city of Los Angeles began accepting Vote-by-Mail applications on Monday. The city’s election Division must receive the application request by 5 p.m. on Feb. 24 for it to be processed in time for the March 3 election. Applications can be found on the back of the Official Sample Ballot mailed to registered voters and mailed to Office of the City Clerk – Election Division, 555 Ramirez Street, Space 300, Los Angeles, CA 90012, or faxed to (213) 978-0612.

For additional information call (213) 978-0376.

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