Attachment C – Frankel Reports
(Two reports explaining voter problems she discovered through investigative journalism in California)
Snagged Votes In Los Angeles
07/05/2016 02:11 pm 14:11:34 | Updated Jul 05, 2016
Judy Frankel Founder and CEO, Writeindependent.org
Julie Tyler, an election observer who volunteered to make sure our democracy is on a good footing, went to the LA County Registrar’s office on June 20 in Norwalk, California.
All vote-count observers are given an escorted tour of the ballot counting facilities, but this was Tyler’s fifth visit to Norwalk. She had seen the provisional ballots removed from large fluorescent green envelopes to sit in piles of pink envelopes, each holding one ballot. By day five, there were many such provisionals placed in a box of “snagged” ballots. They would receive special “de-processing.”
“I was interested in understanding why the provisional envelopes were ending up in the ‘snagged’ box,” said Tyler. “As the rest of my small group exited the room with our escort, I noticed on the top of the pile in one box an envelope from a No Party Preference (NPP) voter, who had stated in the affidavit section, ‘Democrat’ and who was given a Democratic ballot.”
In California, people who identify as ‘independent’ register as No Party Preference, however, they are allowed to vote for president using a special Democratic, American Independent Party, or Libertarian crossover ballot in counties which opted to use crossover ballots. Different counties used different methods to prevent NPP voters from voting in the Democratic County Central Committee elections, while still voting Democratic in the presidential primary.
Tyler asked the supervisor, Tim, how these ballots would be reprocessed. “He said the ballot needed to be remade into an NPP ballot. I said, ‘but that would mean there would be no section for the presidential race.’ He said, ‘Correct.’ I said, so you mean it will be canceled? He said, ‘Yes.’”
Tyler persisted. “I asked him to pull out another ballot randomly from the box. In the span of 60 seconds, I saw three provisional envelopes suffering the same fate. I confirmed with him that these non-partisan voters and their ballots were being remade into NPP ballots in the remake room.”
Tyler and three other observers entered the remake room. “We all stood behind one of the clerks in front of her computer. She showed us how she scans the NPP ballot into a computer, canceling out the offices/races for which the NPP voter may not vote, then manually with a green pencil, marking an ‘X’ in the corresponding boxes.” Thus, independent voters without a special crossover ballot were having their votes for president thrown out.
Tyler asked, “which ballot would have been correct [so that NPP voters could cast a vote for president]? What does it look like? Please show it to me.”
Tim showed her an example crossover ballot. But the non-crossover Democratic ballots placed in provisional envelopes had all the information necessary to count their vote for president. Tyler said, “the intention of the voter is clear. It is written on the outside of the provisional envelope in the form of an affidavit.” The observers all had the same concern. “Why is this voter’s presidential vote being thrown out?” Tyler asked. “Tim really had no explanation, and at that point we all said we needed to talk to his supervisor right away.”
Aaron Nevarez, Executive Assistant of the County Clerk, who reports to Dean Logan, Registrar/Recorder, came to meet them. For a half an hour they discussed the issue. The observers requested a halt to the reprocessing of provisional ballots. They asked exactly how many had been reprocessed and what caused them to have Democratic ballots. Did they run out of the crossover ballots at the precincts? Were the poll workers uninformed, and simply gave out the wrong ballot?
Tyler said, “Nevarez said they needed to ‘understand the scope of it and would not be halting the process just then.’ He then agreed to go make inquiries and get back to us with a response.”
About an hour later, Nevarez returned saying that he had news that would please the observers. “He said they would no longer be remaking the Dem ballots as NPP, but rather crossover Dem, and that they would gather all of them which fit that criteria and put specific clerks on that task.” But how many provisionals had been reprocessed already, and would they start over? Tyler reported, “Nevarez said, out of 4,000 provisionals we have counted thus far, 25% fit the same criteria. More importantly, we asked if they would go back, retrieve the ballots that had already been reprocessed and retroactively remake them the proper way. He replied yes. He said they were going to compile all of those particular ballots, put specific clerks on them to process them.” Who had made this decision? Nevarez, said Dean Logan.
The election observers wanted a guarantee that Dean Logan would take the matter all the way up to Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Los Angeles is just one of 58 counties in California, and it was unknown how many of them used crossover ballots.
“We wanted something in writing from LA County to cite when we requested other counties process this particular ballot,” Tyler said. “He told us to call Secretary Padilla’s office and make a request. An observer named Donna Tarr submitted something in writing on the spot.”
Volunteer observers held a conference call with every team lead statewide to watch for these ballots, to make sure they would be counted correctly. But San Francisco certified their tallies shortly after volunteers learned about the problem, and SF vote observers had experienced thwarted efforts to observe closely enough to catch it even if they were able to figure out NPP voters were being deprived of their vote for president.
Tyler tried to get more information from Mark, Ted, and Nick at the county registrar’s office. Others tried reaching Alex Padilla, whether through their state senator such as Ben Allen, or through Dean Logan’s office, trying to gain assurance that votes were counted. Tyler specifically expressed concern with vote by mail (VBM) ballots being returned with hand-written presidential candidates on their ballots. Again, in each case, the voter’s intent was clear. When Aaron Nevarez agreed that “this issue falls under the category of voter intent” he was referring to the Democratic ballots, not every instance in which voters would show their preference for a candidate. Write-ins for Bernie Sanders on a Green Party ticket or write-ins for Bernie Sanders on an American Independent Party ballot would be wasted votes, according to the registrar’s office. Voter intent be damned in those cases.
Tyler said, “If I were an NPP voter whose presidential vote was thrown out for any reason, I would be furious.”
To report a problem with your voting experience, please fill out the California Voter Declaration at WatchtheVoteUSA.com.
Californians Call for a Grand Jury Investigation of the Primary
07/08/2016 06:54 pm 18:54:18
Judy Frankel Founder and CEO, Writeindependent.org
“It was like a stab to the heart,” said Donna Tarr, “to see the presidential vote being crossed out.” Tarr is one of the citizen observers who watched as a Los Angeles county worker remade a “snagged” Democrat ballot onto a fresh, clean No Party Preference ballot, effectively wiping out their presidential vote. (To find out what happened, see this story.)
Problems like these raise serious question as to whether the vote in California has been counted correctly.
WatchtheVoteUSA.com is taking declarations from Californians, to show a jury of their peers the various ways in which voters were disenfranchised.
“A Civil Grand Jury is a lot faster than a lawsuit,” said Kelly Mordecai of WatchtheVoteUSA.com. “We hope their investigation and immediate report or presentment will call for a more uniform, more reliable voting process, proper training of poll workers, and no tampering with people’s registration.”
To start a Civil Grand Jury investigation, voters may file a complaint with their county. Both the complaints and WatchtheVoteUSA’s declarations will present the details of an election gone horribly wrong.
Independent Voters Disenfranchised in a Myriad of Ways
Independent voters may have been disenfranchised during the June 7th primary because of unusual rules that don’t apply to voters who register under a party. Independents, falling under the category of No Party Preference (NPP), needed to use special “crossover” ballots in certain California counties – Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego being among them – to vote for president.
The No Party Preference Postcard Fiasco
A number of hurdles must be overcome for an independent to cast his/her precious vote for president, especially when voting by mail. The California Secretary of State sends out a postcard to No Party Preference voters, requiring a response. Their website states, “Voters with no party preference who vote by mail were sent a post-card from their county elections office asking if the voter would like to receive a ballot with presidential candidates from the Democratic Party, American Independent Party, or Libertarian Party. Voters who did not return this post card will receive a non-partisan ballot without presidential candidates.”
But if residents missed that little postcard or didn’t return it in time, they may have lost their presidential vote. According to Kim Alexander, director of the California Voter Foundation, there are 2.2 million NPP voters who vote by mail and 85% of them did not return the postcards they were sent to request a crossover ballot. Therefore, Alexander estimates that 1,870,000 voters were given ballots without presidential candidates. “Some voters don’t realize they are vote-by-mail voters in the first place and aren’t aware they were sent a ballot. Or they waited until Election Day to open their ballot and only then realized that they have no presidential candidates on their ballot and don’t fully understand what options they have to get a replacement ballot at their polling place.”
Election Problems: Voters Disenfranchised by Incorrect Party, Write-in Voting, Party Flips, Surprise Vote-by-Mail and Voter Purges
1. Incorrect Party: If independent voters mistakenly registered for the American Independent Party, they wouldn’t find Bernie, Hillary, or Donald on their ballot. Only American Independent Party candidates were listed. The platform of the AIP supports religion in schools and anti-abortion measures, but the name of the party implies “independent”.
2. Write-in Voting: Voters who don’t find candidates listed on their ballot may mistakenly think that a write-in vote will count. Write-in votes are only valid for qualified write-in candidates. Voting for “Mickey Mouse” might seem like a reasonable way to protest the election, however, Mickey won’t get the publicity he deserves because the counties don’t specify who received write-in votes, especially if the votes were thrown out.
4. Online registration automatically becomes VBM: When registering to vote online, some voters experienced the form defaulting to “vote by mail” unless they unchecked that box. Surprise! A VBM ballot must be surrendered at the polls for the walk-in voter to avoid receiving a provisional ballot.
5. Registration Forms: New voters often find out, too late, that their paper registration didn’t “take” at the county for a variety of reasons. Donna Tarr and others who helped people register to vote, were required to mail the form to the county within 3 working days. Incomplete information is enough to halt the registration process. This disproportionately affected young and/or first-time voters. Tarr said, “One of the slides during the training session for Los Angeles volunteers shows that in 2015, of all the registrations received, 112,072 forms were snagged. 33,287 were simply missing a date in the signature box, or their signatures couldn’t be matched with DMV records.” The voter registration forms are poorly designed, Tarr said.
Poll Workers Disenfranchised Voters With Wrong/Misleading Information
Incompetent and spotty training of poll workers made it questionable whether voters would receive the proper ballot in person. In the recent documentary Uncounted by Michelle Antoinette Boley and Taylor Gill, trainee Sara Watts of Sun Valley said, “I originally just applied to be a poll worker. They insisted that the inspectors were seasoned people so if we had any problems, the inspector would be there to help us out, and then six days before [the election], I get a call to be the inspector, with absolutely no additional training.”
If a voter didn’t know to ask for a special crossover ballot, they couldn’t expect a tutorial at the polls. The official election officer training manual states, “Processing a Crossover Voter: A No Party Preference voter will need to request a crossover ballot from the Roster Index Officer. (Do not offer them a crossover ballot if they do not ask.)“
If the poll worker didn’t have the voter’s name on the roster, if their party affiliation didn’t match their ballot, if an independent showed up without their vote by mail ballot and the envelope it came with, or if anything was amiss, the poll worker gave out provisional ballots. Provisionals are the stepchild ballot; they must mesh with the county’s records, or they will be thrown out. The fact that people experienced mis-matched parties and faulty registration means their votes won’t count.
Voter Suppression Tactics
Volunteer election observer Don Ford alleges that provisional ballots and crossover ballots are a form of suppression. “I worked with several poll watchers in different polling locations [in Los Angeles],” said Ford. “There is something we’ve never seen before happen. First off, we had people who disappeared with all the ballots [before election day]. People took the ballots home and they just didn’t show up to work. That forced people on provisionals right away because that was all they could get to that location.”
Electronic Machine Counting of Paper Ballots is Still Electronic
Sarah Spangler, retired American Government teacher, said, “For more than 10 years, election integrity activists, computer professionals and attorneys who are experts in constitutional and election law, have been doing research that reveals data from each election, exposing the vast underbelly of corruption made possible by computerized electronic elections that allow few people to easily use the system to get the results they desire without detection or accountability.”
A grand jury investigation into the problem of electronic voting machines and vote counters may prove invaluable. Through declarations such as those collected by WatchtheVoteUSA.com, citizens who distrust electronic-ballot-counting-machines can convince a grand jury to report the need to implement a system that inspires confidence. Mimi Kennedy, actor and activist for election integrity said we need “a one-person/one-vote paper ballot, verifiable by the voter before casting and verifiable by the public in anonymous aggregate results by hand-counting ballots to check accuracy against any other means of tabulation.”
A Grand Jury Investigation Into the Role of the Press
The media’s influence before, during, and after the election would perpetrate a fraud on the American public. The Associated Press called California’s election the day before, giving voters the impression that there was no need to waste a visit to the polls. The day of the primary, the press announced Hillary Clinton the winner without certifiable election results. And California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla remained silent even though the County Registrars established that too many vote-by-mail and provisional ballots were still uncounted to be certain of the outcome. These tactics by the media are propaganda at its finest, to the detriment of the democratic process.
Voters who have suffered any of the above issues are urged to make their problems known to WatchtheVoteUSA.com. The group seeks to start a Civil Grand Jury investigation as soon as possible. To file a California Voter Declaration, visit WatchtheVoteUSA.com.
Follow Judy Frankel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Writeindependen