Voter Suppression: A California Reality

In this era of extreme partisan divide, it is rare to find any philosophical commonality.

The good news is that there is ONE topic of concern to all sides: VOTER SUPPRESSION.

While there is no universal agreement on everything that constitutes voter suppression, it is certainly one of the few topics we can still discuss and find areas of agreement.

Election Integrity Project®California (EIPCa) proposes to begin the conversation with the following realities about the recent Gubernatorial Recall election.

  1. Thousands and thousands of households received duplicate ballots for its members, ballots addressed to former residents long moved away or deceased, and ballots for strangers who never had any connection to their address. This evidence of voter roll chaos evokes reactions of anger, disgust, concern and even fear.

The result?   VOTER SUPPRESSION

In addition, EIPCa Observers at county elections offices report “mountains” of ballots returned undeliverable. It has been less than a year since the last major election. The ballots returned undeliverable in that election should have enabled officials to put their voter rolls into excellent shape. Clearly that was not the case, and voters understand the implications.

The result?   VOTER SUPPRESSION

What is the remedy?

At the county and state level, change can only be forced through expensive law suits. Those need to happen, but perhaps consistent public pressure on local officials and the Secretary of State might also yield some results.

Voter roll maintenance is immensely complex, and made more so by a woefully outdated federal law that ties the hands of officials.

Understanding that fact and having that discussion with our Congressional and Senatorial representatives is also necessary for real change.

  1. Thousands of voters still standing in line to cast their ballot received news reports on their phones or watches that the results had already been “called”.

Voters on both sides of the issue felt they had no reason to exercise their right to vote.

All that was left was to go home and either celebrate or lick their wounds, both troubled that their voice was not heard. 

Can anyone argue that THIS is VOTER SUPPRESSION?

What is the remedy?

Call on legislators to draft legislation forbidding the release of any numbers until ALL polls are completely closed and all in-person votes are tabulated on Election Night?

This seems reasonable and fair.

  1. Voters received notifications from their county elections office that their vote had been received and counted.

This is intended as a reassurance for voters, but it is in all cases a misrepresentation that may be intended to mislead or mollify voters into complacency. 

  • Voters who knew their ballot was still sitting in the ballot box in the polling place, whether it was a mail ballot or a poll ballot, received the same message.
  • For a submitted mail ballot, that assurance cannot honestly be made. The most that can be said is that the ballot has been cleared for separation from the envelope, which renders its connection to the voter who cast it anonymous.
  • The voter can NOT be told whether the ballot was determined to be “damaged” and therefore had to be duplicated before counting, a fate suffered by hundreds of thousands of ballots.
  • Nor will voters know whether the duplication was accomplished with faithfulness to the voter’s actual mark.
  • The complete unreliability of these messages conveys to the voting public that nothing about the system can be trusted.

The result?   VOTER SUPPRESSION

What is the remedy?

Legislation tasked the Secretary of State with creating a reliable way for voters to track their mail ballots, and mandated its implementation.

If those of us in the private sector had performed our work tasks with such incompetence, we would rightly receive at least a demotion, at most a pink slip from the superior who gave us the assignment.

Legislative oversight of the SOS is called for in this case, in addition to reprimand or worse from the Attorney General or the Governor, at whose desk the executive buck stops.

  1. The highly-touted BallotTrax is completely unreliable. Messages that should have been received were not, and messages that should not have been received were. Such clear evidence of the ineptitude of the system discourages participation.

The result?   VOTER SUPPRESSION

  1. Voters in large numbers were told they had already voted or could not be found in the system. Even though most were offered a provisional or CVR ballot, their voting experience was anything but satisfying, and they left angry and embittered.

The result? VOTER SUPPRESSION

  1. Voters in most counties now do not receive a “receipt” or ballot stub with a tracking number. Voters have NO WAY to track their ballot through the system, and are distressed that they cannot know if their ballot has been counted. Many express that as a result they see no reason to keep voting.

The result?   VOTER SUPPRESSION

EIPCa will continue providing information regarding several issues regarding the loss of integrity in California elections and any state using California style election laws and procedures in future articles.

For now, we will end with some quotes from several citizen who posted on Facebook:

“My experience working at a polling station was an epic s–t show on many levels, with so many stories I don’t have room to share here…

“I volunteered because I wanted to see for myself that conspiracy theorists are nuts for thinking the system is rigged. That’s not the view I came away with. And at a cost of $300 million+ it sure does feel like a huge freaking waste of time and money that this recall was held at all.

“I had fun volunteering. I learned a lot. I met some nice people. I think I could write a good movie or sitcom about this. But I don’t feel super confident that my vote, or any votes, are being counted.”

EIPCa’s mission is to defend the integrity of the voting process and restore the integrity of California’s electoral process so that every lawfully cast ballot is accurately counted.

If we fulfill that mission, we will have made significant progress in eliminating VOTER SUPPRESSION.


Linda Paine, President and Co-founder,
Election Integrity Project®California


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