May 18, 2008 - Another ballot flap for independents - primary: nonpartisans received the wrong forms
Paper: Daily News of Los Angeles (CA)
Title: Another ballot flap for independents - primary: nonpartisans received the wrong forms
Date: May 18, 2008
Author: Fred Ortega Staff Writer
Some Los Angeles County independent voters are facing another conundrum in the June 3 primary, just months after the "double bubble'' fiasco of the Feb. 5 presidential primary.
Nonpartisan voters who requested absentee ballots for the Republican or Democratic primaries have instead received nonpartisan ballots that do not list any partisan candidates.
Officials with the Los Angeles County Registrar's Office said they are addressing the problem, which has affected about 3,000 so-called "crossover'' nonpartisan voters.
Registrar officials said they have already sent out the correct ballots and that those nonpartisan voters affected should receive them in time to cast their votes in the June primary.
The error was the result of a computer glitch that sent out nonpartisan ballots based on the voter's preference at the time of the last election -- while ignoring their more recent request for a crossover ballot, said Efrain Escobedo, the registrar's executive liaison.
"We received a couple calls from voters and our quality control caught it,'' said Escobedo.
He added that corrected ballots with an explanatory note and new sample ballot booklet were sent to all the affected voters Friday morning.
He said the glitch affected about 3,000 of the roughly 560,000 vote- by-mail ballots that the county has sent out so far.
But even a few thousand votes could make a difference June 3. That is because, with the early presidential primary out of the way, experts believe this secondary primary will be marked by an unusually low turnout.
"It is hard to say what the precise impact will be,'' said Michael Alvarez, a political science professor at California Institute of Technology, who was among those nonpartisan crossover voters who received the wrong ballot.
"There could very well be voters who have already received these ballots, have filled them out and returned them,'' Alvarez said.
He noted that the nonpartisan ballot includes judicial and county candidates and propositions, but omits any partisan offices, including candidates running in the state Senate and Assembly primaries.
And the confusion caused by receiving two sets of ballots in the mail could lead to many voters sending in the wrong one -- or both.
"One would hope the registrar would rectify that and count the ballot if they receive a second ballot from those voters,'' Alvarez said.
Given the complex nature of the American electoral process, it is not surprising that mistakes occur, said Jack Pitney, politics professor at Claremont McKenna College.
"Absentee voters should take a careful look at their ballot to make sure they got the right one,'' said Pitney. "The most important candidate races in this primary are those for state Legislature, and most Californians have only a hazy grasp of what the state Legislature does.
"In a close, low-turnout race, a handful of ballots can change the outcome,'' Pitney added.
This latest obstacle facing the county's independent voters comes on the heels of the now-infamous double bubble incident -- which required independent voters to fill in an extra bubble specifying the party they wanted to vote under in order for their selections for partisan candidates to be counted. The problem ended up affecting nearly 50,000 voters.
Anyone with questions about the absentee ballots should contact the Registrar's Office, 562-466-1323, or visit www.lavote.net.
Edition: Valley rop
Index Terms: LOS ANGELES COUNTY - VOTING - ABSENTEE BALLOT - MISTAKE - COMPUTER ; - NONPARTISAN - REGISTRAR-RECORDER - CALIFORNIA - PRIMARY ELECTION - ISSUE - ; US - PRESIDENT - CANDIDATE
Record Number: 0805210059
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