Voters complain they couldn’t get desired ballots at polling places and by mail

By George MillerElections

There are many instances of claims by people who went to polls during Tuesday’s primary election day under the impression they were registered Republican, but were told they were registered “no party preference” and were denied a Republican ballot  to vote in the presidential primary. There were some problems reported getting Democratic ballots, too, but nowhere near as many. Finally, there were some  problems with absentee ballots, too. So far, most, but not all, appear to be attributable to voters’ lack of understanding about how things work.

Some of these complaints have come to us and we heard more via other publications, Facebook and blog accounts, of people who had similar problems. Under Republican Party rules, only those voters registered Republican can get a Republican ballot.  But, some voters insisted that they were registered Republicans, but were told otherwise when they got to the polls. We also heard stories from/about crossover voters who couldn’t get Republican ballots at the polls, but weren’t registered Republicans. People registered as no party preference can get a Democratic, American Independent, or Libertarian Party ballot at the polls, but not other parties, such as Republican.

We contacted the Ventura County Registrar’s office about this and were told by an anonymous employee (she said that a Public Information Officer would contact us, which in fact occurred within only minutes). Miranda Nobriga quickly responded to our inquiry, supplying us with a copy of the postcard sent out to no party preference registered voters, apprising them of their options and soliciting a response (see below).

Download:  No Party Preference postcard J2016

Ms. Nobriga confirmed that people could have requested a ballot as shown above up until election day. They could have also changed their party of registration no later than May 23, 2016 to get a Republican or other Party ballot for those that insist upon party registration.

Seen on Facebook, from an out of county person: “I worked the polls yesterday and had quite a few non-registered Republican voters who where upset because their ballot did not give them the option to vote for Trump. One guy handed his ballot back to me and walked out, not voting on any of the contests. I believe the media is in for a shock in November.” (Ed.note: these are would-be crossover or no party preference voters who didn’t know the rules.)

Well-known statewide political consultant Steve Frank, of Simi Valley, told us this morning that he had heard no proven complaints at all, anywhere, of such problems. We have heard of quite a few.


Case Investigated

We heard that voter Susan Fink of Simi Valley was denied a Republican ballot at the Moose Lodge polling station. We contacted the busy real estate sales agent between appointments and heard that: She registered Republican when she first  moved to Simi Valley in 2004and has been ever since. When she and her husband voted on Tuesday, she took her ballot and begin to mark it, then noticed there were no choices for President. She finished filing it out, crossed out an error and fed it into the scanner/ballot box. Not surprisingly, it rejected it. So, she went back to the sign-in table to get another one, requesting a Republican ballot this time. The election official told her that wasn’t an option, since she wasn’t registered Republican. She was quite upset, but requested one of the choices offered, which was an American Independent Party ballot, filled it out and turned it in. She reported the problem to Election Integrity Project and it eventually found its way to us.

We called the County Registrar’s office about this case and spoke to Public Information Officer Miranda Nobriga, who jumped right on it. She called back not long after that and explained that Ms. Fink did a provisional ballot in 2010 at the polls and records indicate that she changed her party registration at that time to no party preference, which would apply to the next election. It was news to us that such a transaction is even legal. She may not even be aware that she changed it. She told us that she has “problems with the Republicans, but the alternatives are even worse” and that she “would never change it” (knowingly).

When we sent Ms. Fink that info, she responded thusly:

“What you’ve written seems reasonable to me.  No, I did not knowingly change my party affiliation. So yes it was a surprise… as I said, the only reason I had to use a provisional ballot at that time in 2010 was because I forgot to bring my vote by mail ballot to the polls, but I would not have changed my party affiliation.”

Ms. Nobriga told us today that they have received and investigated less than a dozen such cases in the county and all of them proved to be the work of voters, not the Registrar’s office. We have not seen the specific cases’ documentation. She also told me that if a party affiliation is left blank on a voter registration application, then they default to no party affiliation.


Another case (so far not confirmed). Voter’s email to

I was referred to you by someone on the Election Integrity Project Facebook page.
Yesterday morning my husband (redacted), a registered Republican for many years, went to vote at our Culver City polling place in the Fox Hills Mall.
When he got there, they told him he was registered as a Democrat. He said that must be a mistake, and he wanted to vote Republican.  They told him he couldn’t and he went home without voting.
At 5 pm, my daughter and I went to the same place to vote.  She is a college student and had not voted before, and there was no listing for her.  They said she could vote “provisionally, ” whatever that is.  I immediately called my husband who came back and voted “provisionally” also.  Why they didn’t let him know he could do that earlier in the day is suspicious to me.  They saw him leave without utilizing his constitutional right to vote, and they didn’t inform him that he indeed could vote. 
When it was my turn to put my Republican ballot in the machine slot, it was rejected.  My daughter’s was rejected.  My husband’s was rejected.  Another Republican voter’s ballot was rejected (I have her name and address).
The man working the machine said our ballots would be placed in a box.  We have no way of knowing if that box goes where it should go or if our ballots were thrown out.
Meanwhile I witnessed Democratic people’s ballots going into the slot machine no problem.  My family and the other Republican voter made a point to watch for about ten minutes.
You could see what party the other voters belonged to, since the booths were labelled.
I made a bit of a scene.  The volunteers sitting behind the tables tried to assuage me, telling me that happens to Democrats also.  All I know is, we all saw with our own eyes, for ten or fifteen minutes, all the non-Republican ballots swallowed into the machine no problem, while the four of us Republicans were rejected.
Something is wrong here.
Note: We described this incident to Ventura County Elections Div. Public Information Officer Miranda Nobriga. She told us that although the election officer may have permitted  a provisional ballot, it would have to later be researched before being counted and if the registration wasn’t of the party on the ballot, that ballot should be voided.

Polling Place Changes Confused Voters

The Ventura County Registrar’s office confirmed that there were numerous instances of people showing up at the wrong polling place or locations which are no longer polling places. We caution voters to confirm the polling place location and party registration prior to going to vote. If not, polling place officials can usually point you to the right location, or they or you can call the Registrar’s office.


Problems not just at polling places

There have also been some related  problems with absentee ballots.

Election observers in 2014 reported that hundreds of Oxnard absentee ballots were rejected for invalid signatures, which are machine-checked, then double-checked by human observers- one election official, one Democrat volunteer member of the public and one Republican. Apparently, some people will look at voter lists for infrequent voters, and write in to change the mailing address, or intrecept mailed ballots. One wonders about identity-checking for such transactions. It is also possible for someone to just show up at the polls

Example Letter to us from a voter who wrote that she thwarted such an effort:

I was in touch with Election Integrity Project, who gave me your address in order to inform you of my experience with an underhanded attempt to steal my vote.

I wanted to let you know my experience with receiving my ballot.  I hadn’t received my mail-in ballot by mid-May, so I called my Voter Registrar office here in Fresno, CA.  They said my address had been changed to a Visalia address.  I told them that was fraudulent, and they said they would cancel that ballot out and send a new one to me.

How does this happen without my signature?  They said (probably) a business changed my address. They changed my address back to the proper one, and I had them check to make sure that ballot hadn’t been voted already.  After checking they said it had not, so they cancelled that ballot number and assigned a new one to me.  I did then receive the ballot in time for the election.

I’m wondering how, if that ballot ultimately was sent, it would actually be stopped  from cancelling out my vote. Hopefully the number is entered in the computer when assigned to a voter.

Sandra Jordan, Fresno

EIPLogoA Deeper Story From Election Integrity Project President
Linda Paine is the Founder and President of Election Integrity Project (EIP). We spoke to her on 6-10-16 on Tuesday’s California Primary Election.
She said that they have received quite a few reports, about problems people had in getting the right ballots. When pressed for numbers, she said that observers are sending in incident reports, but it could be a while before these are all completed, received tallied and reported, but it could potential be hundreds. She stressed that their hundreds of observers constitute only a very small sampling of such a huge state. In 2012, EIP had about 2100 observers. They hope to more closely approximate that number during the general election season, if sufficient volunteers can be acquired.
The problems (reported by EIP- statewide) in obtaining ballots mostly break down into the following categories:
1. People who insist they registered Republican, in most cases were always Republican, but were told at the polls they were registered as no party preference and were refused a requested Republican ballot.
2. Some have re-registered away from Republican in their anger at the party, but needed to re-register Republican to vote for the candidate of their choice, claimed that they did, but were told at the polls that they were not registered Republican and refused a Republican ballot.
3. Some people changed their voting preference away from mail in ballot to normal polling place voting, when they heard about problems with mail-in ballots, but were not actually switched by their registrars, for whatever reasons.
4. Some claimed that they received notices that they were switched to vote by mail, but claimed that they never initiated any such changes.
5. Some asked to vote by mail, but claim that they never received absentee ballots.
6. Some Democrats changed to no party preference or were already so, but wanted  a Democrat ballot, which is no problem at the polls, but to obtain a mail in Democrat ballot, they must specifically request it.
Paine suspects that establishment forces may have used/abused the rules to hold back “non-establishment” candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, who have alarmed them with their unexpected popularity. Paine says that  there is no proof of this, but the net practical effect has been to suppress votes for them. Many of these people are new or infrequent voters.


Proposition 14 Changed Some Rules, But Not ALL

Proposition 14 went to an “open primary system,” where only the top two primary winners go on to the general election in November. But it kept the party system only for presedential primaries, which, of course, only occur every four years. The rules have resulted in confusion for some who have “no party preference” registration, but wish to cross over for presidential primaries. Since this only happens every four years, only affecting presidential primaries, some people simply are not versed in the rules. There is even confusion among poll workers. This writer personally saw unintended violations of the rules while a poll observer in the 2012 primary. We have heard second or third-hand accounts of that this year, as well, without specifics and not in Ventura County.


Since information on primary election problems is just starting to come in, this is nowhere near the full story. So, we will provide further reports if/when it seems appropriate.


Election Integrity Project Solicitation

According to the organization’s Administrator, Ms. Ellen Gifford, The  Election Integrity Project, a statewide organization founded in 2010,  is looking for volunteers to help with poll observation and other projects to help improve the integrity of the election process. Training and support are provided, but donations always welcome. Contact:  or tel: 805-526-3698.


Some Ventura County Elections Div. Resources:

George Miller is Publisher of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

Get Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE

One Response to Voters complain they couldn’t get desired ballots at polling places and by mail

  1. Citizen Reporter June 12, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Please note the many reader comments on this on our Facebook page


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *