As we were wrapping up the final week before election day, CBS Los Angeles was still finding errors of various types with the mail-in ballots being sent out to people in L.A. County. How many errors are we talking about? Nearly 300,000. While it’s not as if even this level of incompetence and potential for fraud is going to risk flipping the state to Donald Trump, there are many down-ballot races on the line and they could certainly be impacted significantly. Some of the problems that cropped up in this batch were similar to the recurring issues we’ve covered here before. Others, however, were previously unreported types of errors that should prove quite alarming, showing an even higher risk of voter fraud and a need for California (and most of the states) to work aggressively to clean up their voter rolls.
With Election Day next week, a new investigation has found hundreds of thousands of questionable ballots sent to Los Angeles County voters. Investigative reporter David Goldstein found thousands of people received not one, but two ballots in their own name. And thousands more were sent to people who’ve moved or died.
Becky Sprigg has lived in her Santa Monica apartment complex for 30 years. That’s why she was surprised when a ballot was delivered to Carol’s old apartment – even though Carol — whose name we’re not revealing — moved 15 years ago and died almost ten years ago.
“It’s curious that someone who passed away ten years ago would receive a ballot,” Sprigg said.
“Carol” was far from the only relocated and deceased person receiving a ballot… or ballots (plural). CBS News reports that the Election Integrity Project California claims to have found more than 277,000 “questionable” ballots that were mailed out. Shockingly, that represents more than 60% of all the dubious ballots identified in the entire state, all coming from a single county.
As mentioned above, some of the other errors are even more alarming than dead people receiving ballots. A guy named Tommy Robinson showed a reporter that he had received two ballots on the same day, both in his name. One was sent to his address including the identifier “Apartment B406.” The other was identical, except it said #406. The Post Office dutifully delivered both of them. Tommy assured CBS that he had only submitted one and destroyed the other.
If that had been a one-off error we likely wouldn’t have to worry too much, but it wasn’t. The report referenced above found 4,800 cases where duplicate ballots were mailed to the same person at the same address. You can sort of understand how the rolls become polluted when someone moves and they don’t update their voter registration information. But all of these people were obviously still living at the same address. How does a second entry with only a minor, cosmetic change wind up on the rolls? Who fills out an updated voter registration form when they still live at the same address? I suppose this could still be a clerical error of some sort, but it certainly sounds suspicious.
Also, just because Tommy was honest enough to destroy his extra ballot, was everyone? The Board of Elections keeps telling us that they’re “checking” all of the incoming ballots to ensure nobody voted twice, but that’s a lot of checking to be doing on Tuesday. Is this checking being done manually or is it automated? I only ask because if the system is looking for duplicate information and the addresses on the two ballots don’t match exactly, would that trigger a red flag? And if it’s a manual check, how many people do they have standing by to do all of this work?
CBS asked the country registrar how so many dead people wind up on the voter rolls and have ballots sent out to them. The answer was far from inspiring.
“When you’re talking about removing someone’s right to vote, that’s something we take seriously and that strikes to the integrity of the election,” said [country registrar Dean]Logan.
Sure, Dean. But when you’re talking about removing the voting rights of dead people, I think you’re pretty much in the clear.