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By the way, I received a phone call from the registrar's office last week about the problems I reported at my precinct on election day. They confirmed once again that yes, those were Bad Things and they'd have to Speak To the poll workers and suchlike, but I doubt they can actually make sure those votes get counted. I suppose a few dozen votes don't matter that much in the grand scheme of things, but it's still depressing to know this sort of thing's happened even if it's a bit of a perverse relief to know I wasn't making a big flap over nothing.
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Bloody fuck! I've just realized there was a much bigger fuckup at the polls. When you vote a paper ballot, you're not supposed to sign the register, as I mentioned earlier. When I voted today, they had me sign. I'd said "I'm not supposed to sign, right?" but they said I was, and figuring that there might have been a change in procedure, or else that it was a slight messup on their part but not likely to do anything more than annoy the vote-counters, I didn't argue. It wasn't until I got home that the implications of it hit me.

When you vote a regular ballot, there's no way to trace it. The only proof they have that you voted is your signature on the roster. That's why you're only supposed to sign the roster if you voted a regular ballot. Provisional ballots go in those little envelopes so that they can make sure you didn't vote somewhere else as well before they take them out and count them; if your signature appears in any roster anywhere, that means you voted and that means your provisional ballot won't be counted.

By making me sign the roster, they've nullified my vote. Not just mine, but those of every other voter who was on the rolls at that precinct but voted a paper ballot anyway.

I called the registrar's office as soon as I realized this. Fortunately, because of their other screwup I'd taken note of the precinct number; the fellow there, agreeing that this was a Bad Thing, told me he'd pass this on to the troubleshooters and that they might get back to me. If they don't, I won't be able to find out if my vote, specifically, got counted until it's far too late to do any good, though I might be able to find out how the situation in general was resolved.

Cross your fingers, folks. I'm gonna be royally pissed if they don't find a way to fix this.
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Okay, now I wish I hadn't waited till late in the day to vote. One of the women at my polling place thought I wasn't allowed to get a new paper ballot when I mis-marked the old one. When I told her I was pretty sure I was, one of her fellow poll workers looked it up and told her I was right, but I shudder to think how many people came through that day and were forced to cast mis-marked paper ballots.

*scribbles letter to registrar's office*
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I should've mentioned this a while ago, but I'll do it now in case there are still people reading this who haven't voted yet.

If you're planning to vote a paper ballot, ask for it before you sign the register. Otherwise they have to go back and cross your name off and scribble little notes on it and shit so the count doesn't get messed up--or at least here in California they do. Be nice to your poll workers and don't make them do that. They'll have a tough enough time today as it is.
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I've just found out that you can apparently fax absentee ballots instead of mailing them. This may come too late for some of you, but if you got your absentee ballot too late to mail it in and you can't make it to the polls in person, you've still got time to fax it in; call your registrar's office to get the number.

Spread the word, please. I've heard of way too many people in this election not getting their ballots in time.
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If you don't get your voter information guide within a couple weeks before the upcoming election, make sure to call the registrar's office and confirm that you are correctly registered at your current address. Here's one more reason why that could be necessary. Yay widespread and untraceable fraud.

(thanks to [livejournal.com profile] auros for the link)
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Of course, the Alameda County registrar of voters is also teh suq. Here's a letter I just wrote to the Tri-Valley Herald:

As an Alameda county poll worker, I'd like to explain a couple of things you mentioned in today's Herald article.

First, you said that "Poll workers failed to post notices or otherwise inform unaffiliated voters that they had to request a Democratic or Republican ballot in order to vote in those primaries." I can tell you that this was not a failure on the part of the poll workers. We were specifically instructed during our training not to ask voters if they wanted those ballots; we were only to give them to those who spoke up and requested them, though it was clear that most voters wouldn't know that they had to do that.

You also said, "Voters who did not have the mayor watching over them said poll workers would not let them void mistaken ballots and vote their preference." Now, there may have been inflexible poll workers in some precincts, but I can also tell you that it was often impossible to let people cancel their ballots and get new ones. Once the "Cast Ballot" button had been pressed, for example, the ballot absolutely could not be canceled, and many voters didn't complain until after they'd pressed the button--somewhat understandably, since requesting assistance would have involved either yelling across the room or leaving the voting machine unattended while they came to fetch one of us. This is in sharp contrast to the paper system, where voters could easily take their half-voted ballots back to us and request new ones; with these machines, voters can only get their cards back if they press either "Cast Ballot" or "Cancel," and during this election, incredibly enough, we found at least once at my precinct that the "Cancel" button didn't show up anywhere on the screen.

I hope this helps to clarify things.

For the record, most of the other things he says in the article are quite true. Our card encoder was one of the problematic ones; it showed a "serious error" message when we turned it on and it took several phone calls to the ROV over the course of a couple of hours before I was put through to a technician who could walk me through fixing it (some sneaky things had to be done in order to delete some files that evidently should've already been deleted. For what it's worth, the sucker was running Windows.) It also took a couple of hours for them to send us a substitute poll worker to replace two of ours who didn't show up, and a while beyond that for them to send us extra provisional ballot envelopes as we'd of course run out of them before we got the electronic system working. Then again, the same thing had happened a few years ago, before the touchscreens were even in use; I was working a precinct that was mostly dorm-living UC students who often hadn't bothered to change their registration (or they had and it hadn't been recorded correctly), so we ran out of envelopes twice and had to turn people away while we cooled our heels waiting for more to be sent over.

Now, all of that was merely due to the ROV being either understaffed or just incompetent, I'm not in a position to say which, but we also had problems with the machines that were scary--not just the disappearance of the "Cancel" button, but the disappearance of local measures and other things from ballots that should've had them, as mentioned in the article. And of course there was no way to fix this. Before I'd worked closely with these machines I was merely worried about the potential for tampering; now I know they're unreliable enough even without being tampered with. I'll certainly be complaining.


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