Widespread Irregularities in Yolo County Elections Alleged

VBM-BallotBy Donna E. Davies

It has come to the attention of several Yolo County registered voters that as many as 55,000-62,000 (roughly 60% of total county electorate) of June 7 ballots have been compromised and placed at risk for tampering, disqualification or disappearance.

This notification concerns registered mail-in voters.

60% of registered voters in Yolo County conduct their voting via mail-in ballots.

The core of the problem: Throughout this elections season, registered mail-in voters throughout Yolo County were sent ballots with flawed and insecure ballot-return envelopes from the Yolo County elections division.

The rear flaps on the return envelopes, which accompany the ballots have half- to fully-torn rear flaps used for encasing, closing and sealing the ballots.

Yolo County Elections staff were knowledgeable of the flawed voting materials months ago (and as long ago as the last few elections when the problem was detected yet ignored by officials).They failed to obtain a new inventory of secure and proper mail-in voting materials, and sent out the faulty ballot-return envelopes for this elections cycle.

The ability to safely, securely, and reliably submit ballots for U.S. postal transit back to the Yolo Elections Office has been compromised — again.

Moreover, the Yolo Elections Office’s prior knowledge of and willful ignorance of this risk to a fair, secure and uneventful mail-in voting process has compromised our security, and exposed our identities, wet signatures and residential addresses to fraud and open observation of our voting habits.

Several issues:

This widespread error and flaw in the Yolo Elections Office mail-in voter return-envelopes has placed mail-in voters and their ballots at risk:

  • Thousands of ballots will not make their way back to be counted. The rear flap on these envelopes does not close or seal securely due to the flaw. Specifically, envelopes with fully torn back flaps are hanging wide open when placed into U.S. mail; the envelopes with half-torn back flaps are subject to being torn open completely in rugged conveyor belt machines, and the physical handling, sorting, and stacking procedures which are a part of U.S. postal mail transit. This places thousands of ballots at risk for falling out of their flawed return envelopes.

        2)  Thousands of ballots are no longer secret like walk-in voter ballots.

Missing or fully- and half-open flaps leave our ballots subject to viewing by handlers throughout the mail-in process. There is surely at least a section or two in State and Federal code that guarantees the anonymity and secrecy of citizen voting preferences as Americans and citizens of California.

  • Thousands of ballots are subject to tampering due to being transmitted in flawed and insecure envelopes. For all the reasons outlined in number 1 and 2.
  • Thousands of ballot envelopes have left us at risk for identity theft, wet signature lifting and forgery, and check and document fraud. The rear envelope flaps are situated on the return ballot envelopes to conceal voter names, addresses and wet signatures. In the complete absence or half-coverage of the flap, due to the material flaws described above, all of that sensitive information is fully exposed in transit and handling.
  • The information left exposed in risk #4 can also be easily matched against voting preferences since ballots are accessible in the flawed envelopes.

Upon noticing the flaw on the mail-in ballot return envelope, I contacted the Yolo Elections Office via phone on Thursday, June 2 with these concerns.

Yolo Elections Office staff acknowledged their usage of flawed envelopes, admitted to knowingly sending out flawed envelopes and stated that they were a leftover flawed supply from prior elections with the same internally well-known issues. As early as May 9, the office proceeded to mail out packets to thousands of registered mail-in voters, which were stuffed with flawed and insecure return envelopes. They did this without notifying voters to anticipate the flawed torn envelopes, much less providing information how to remedy the situation and secure their mail-in ballots or, better yet, how to vote by way of a more secure method.

I used the analogy that if I were Bayer pharmaceutical and I found out a few people were getting sick on my aspirin (a while ago), but I could not be sure how many and where they were and which batches were faulty, I would be morally bound to: immediately notify all potentially affected persons, provide an immediate remedy, recall the bad or potentially bad product and issue new ones, and in plenty of time to heal the ailment.

It was not until, on June 2, when – in that conversation – I demanded an immediate press release, that the Yolo Elections Office acknowledged the seriousness and wide-sweeping ramifications of this matter and generated a token announcement (presumably to your news and media outlet?) dispatched on June 3 by way of a public information officer, and not the elections officers themselves. They also placed a minor dispatch on the yolocountyelections website which is not the same as outreach and notification to the voters throughout Yolo County. One would have to know to look there for remedy information in order to come upon it. I can see only one instance, at the back of the Woodland Press Democrat, where information for thousands of affected mail-in voters, appeared as a blurb from the press release embedded in passing at the bottom of an article entitled with an unrelated headline.

It is not lost on anyone that the previous Voter Registrar of Yolo County, Freddie Oakley, left the Yolo Elections Office to work for the Hillary Clinton campaign. This left her successor, Jesse Salinas, an interim figurehead. He was appointed only 5 weeks ago, on the cusp of an historic election on the heels of an unacceptably long vacancy in that critical county seat left by Oakley’s departure. That Salinas confessed to knowing zero to little about managing elections, much less large elections, is not lost on Yolo County voters, either.

The perceptions of a fair, reliable and secure democratic voting process held by thousands of Yolo County residents, millions of Californians, and now millions of citizens throughout the United States and the world at large, are rapidly deteriorating.

I anticipate earnest and unbiased media coverage of this matter. I ask that visible and widespread notification of this matter and the remedies necessary to reduce our risk of harm and have every voter’s voice count (in THIS election) be disseminated to registered Yolo County voters by way of all possible information sources.

High ranking officials including Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State were notified this afternoon.

I welcome, and expect, inquiries from the press as more details regarding these transgressions of fair and secure voting processes unfold.

On behalf of all registered mail-in voters of Yolo County, I demand a complete accounting of how many mail-in ballots made it back to the elections office with comparative mail-in return data for prior elections, including those occurring before Yolo County started sending out defective mail-in ballot return envelopes. After Monday, when all mail-in ballots are qualified, counted and reported by our elections office: I want a count and a ratio of how many mail-in ballots came back in defective envelopes that were either hanging open, or sealed but exposing our personal data, and/or had to be taped down due to the missing or defective security flap. Images of the flawed envelopes in question are available upon request.

At this point, I wish an independent watch group could provide oversight, observation and monitoring of all of these demands.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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55 thoughts on “Widespread Irregularities in Yolo County Elections Alleged”

  1. SODA

    Any information about this author? I suggest that a few sentence(s) be added as a short bio for these type of articles written by others.  Thanks

    I noticed the same thing on our daughter’s mail in ballot.

    1. hpierce

      OK… this may not satisfy folk, but this much I can share… unless there are two Donna Davies in town, I personally know, and highly respect her… we have not spoken on this issue, and not sure she even knows I’m a pollworker.

      To say more, I’d have to share more about her and/or me than I think is appropriate.  If you give me any credibility at all, rest assured she is “the real deal”, has a good point about the envelopes, and I’ll check in with her to discuss, and perhaps allay some of her concerns.

  2. hpierce

    The author is correct in the issue of the defective envelopes… as a poll-worker, we encountered many of them when they were turned into the polls.

    We fixed them, in the voters’ presence and while they were observing, with the discrete use of tape, making sure that privacy was preserved, while still allowing the signatures, date and addresses to be discerned as part of the processing process.  100% success rate, but we had the luxury of having complete control… from ‘repair’, to ballot box, to the envelope for VBM/Provisional votes cast, which are then placed with the other voted ballots, and hand-delivered by two people to the elections pick-up center (for Davis, @ the Senior Center).

    I can personally assure everyone who delivered such VBM envelopes to the precinct polling place I worked at, that their ballots were handled respectfully, discretely, and safely.

    I hope someone from elections responds… I know our roving inspector knew what we were doing and approved, on behalf of Elections.  I would hope they could go back to the vendor of the envelope, and get properly prepared product at no additional cost to the County.

    Sidebar comment (tongue in cheek):  this can happen when you have to go with the low-bidder…

     

    1. SODA

      Good job of responding to the situation, hpierce.  I taped my daughter’s shut and took it to my polling place when I voted and no one said anything so don’t think there was widespread knowledge or uniform handling of the issue (as you did).
      The author indicates these envelopes had been used n prior elections as they were part of a large supply. So this has happened before?

      1. hpierce

        This was new to me… I do not speak for Co Elections, just my minor piece of it… however, I have also seen damaged envelopes due to “operator error” in past elections… worst case, we put it in a ‘provisional’ envelope, had the same signatures, address, date on it, (just like VBM, BTW) and clearly marked up and explained in the poll-worker comment space that the ballot was a VBM, and not provisional.  We do what we need to do.

        Ironically, I and my spouse did the VBM thing, and our envelopes were fine.

        IF this happens in November, voters should call elections, ask for new envelope, explaining the problem, surrender the ballot by mail, asking for new ballot AND envelope, or drop it off at ANY polling place (VBM’s are accepted at ANY).  At the person’s assigned polling place, they also have the option of surrendering it, voting regularly, having a repair done, or doing the marked up provisional envelope thing (in my polling place, for ’emphasis’, we always placed the substitute envelopes with the VBM’s (ya’ kinda’ have to to make your ‘closing’ count work out mathematically).

        In short, there are good “remedies”, but it would be best if Elections were in a position to ensure that the vendors supply the appropriate product.  BTW, working with Elections staff for over 20 years, they are “aces”, but sometimes “stuff happens”, and sometimes the timing is such that you have to deal with what you face… the only other alternative is tell the VBM folk that their request will not be honored… I prefer the “just deal with it” [and try to ensure it doesn’t happen again] approach.

         

    2. tj

      A 2nd ISSUE  arose re the Pole Line Baptist Church polling location.

      Even by mid morning there were no visible signs or flags to let voters know it was a polling place, and it appeared to be empty, so some voters returned home not knowing what to do with their ballots.

      Did this happen at any other polling locations around the county?

      We don’t know if it was a voter suppression activity to help Hillary who is supported by Freddie Oakley’s current staff, or just incompetence for part of the day at this one location.

      1. Misanthrop

        Good thing Hillary won by more votes than were cast in Yolo County so your alleged election fixing wouldn’t change the outcome for the state and nation. Freddy resigned to take a partisan position with the Clinton Campaign exactly to avoid the kind of accusation against the County Elections Dept you make here.

  3. Tia Will

    Hi SODA

    I agree that a brief bio would be nice for any author. While I judge the ideas on their own merits, it is nice to know a little something about the author.

    While I do not condone the knowing use of flawed materials for voting, I do think there is a very simple remedy if anyone was feeling anxious about the security of their ballot. A piece of tape will work nicely to secure a partially closed envelope.

    My recommendation. Next time, forget about using up the old stock and provide fully functional envelopes.

    1. hpierce

      Tia, altho’ you seem to have a view that “money is no object”, the reality of County finances, timing of when things are discovered, and needing to fit that in with mandatory timelines for distributing ballots, sometimes “sh*t happens” and folk need to deal with it the best they can.  It’s called “life”… if you have a magic wand…

      I agree that the defective materials should be rooted out before November, and hopefully replaced by the responsible vendor at no charge to the county.  If the latter is not possible, feel free to make a donation the Elections to cover the cost of destroying the defective ones, acquiring better ones, and I hereby pledge to match your donation.

      1. dlemongello

        I suppose an alternative to not using the defective ones is a little supplement that instructs the user to tape shut any torn areas. Saves money and paper. Make the supplement a quarter sheet or less.

        1. hpierce

          Good suggestion… please forward that comment to Yolo County Elections… those folk are very open to positive suggestions… I say again, they are great… they’ll probably accept your suggestion, if politely made (see no issue there), if they can’t address the main issue… which is real, but should not be laid on the backs of the great folk who are professionals and serve the public well…

      2. Tia Will

        hpierce

        You probably noted that I said “next time”. I personally have no problem with taping an envelope shut. What I would recommend in keeping with my philosophy that one should be willing to pay for what they want is that the next time a problem of this sort is discovered, the county notify the author of this piece, provide her with the amount that would be needed to replace the defective envelopes, and she can get in touch with me through the Vanguard, I will get in touch with you and we can split the costs. Sound reasonable ?   And no, I am not joking.

    2. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I agree that a brief bio would be nice for any author. While I judge the ideas

      > on their own merits, it is nice to know a little something about the author.

      If you read “Lisa is a proud NIMBY and has fought against ANY change to Davis since 1962” or “Bob is proud to be a developer and hopes to someday build condos on all the “wasted space” called parks here in Davis” you have an idea where the authors are coming from…

    3. hpierce

      The use of bio’s (actually, only basic disclosures) has been very sporadic… is there a reason you bring that up on this particular thread?

      Aren’t you still on the editorial board?  Suggest you discuss this with other Board members and David… I support the concept of giving basic info as to associations a guest author may have in the context of the writing, and as to qualifications related to the writing, if of a technical nature.  Would find that very helpful in weighing information and/or views.  You raise a good point… please do so at the highest level you can!

      1. SODA

         

        Hello again hpierce!  I was the first to ask for bio as first comment this morning and I have asked several times before. It is not uniform and am wondering if we get short bio when the article if also published in the DE, but not necessarily when it isnt. I would ask the Editorial Board consider the request.

        I have requested info on Jerika L.H.several times as I enjoy reading his/her articles. But ….alas, I am still wondering!

      2. David Greenwald

        I can address this: We have a policy on guest submissions that we are in the process of finalizing. It will include a requirement that a bio be attached in addition to other things. However since we have not been consistent on the bio issue, I didn’t require it here.

        1. Barack Palin

          You’ve stated in the past that you’ll take articles from anonymous writers.  How would you handle their bios and still keep them anonymous?

          You even have a staff writer who goes under an alias.

        2. hpierce

          OK, David… altho’ the VG allows anonymous posters (which I appreciate… if you change that, I cannot post due to possible employment issues), but I thought (perhaps erroneously) that ‘contributors’ were expected to be using real names and creds…

  4. ryankelly

    I just taped the torn pieces together when I mailed it in. This was my first time voting by mail.  Next time I think I’ll walk it in to the poll.

    Did any envelopes arrive empty?

  5. Barack Palin

    I find it kind of funny (hypocritical?…that word might now be taboo on the V) to see liberals worried about the integrity of mail-in-vote envelopes when they in turn don’t worry too much about the integrity of the identity of the person voting and fight every Voter ID law.

    1. hpierce

      You are not satisfied that EVERY voter signs a document, UNDER THE PENALTY OF PERJURY, that they are who they say they are, live where they say they live and meet all the qualifications to vote? [yeah, that’s on the Roster you sign, and every envelope for VBM and Provisional ballot envelopes]

      Perhaps you’d prefer a system where every election, each elector has to file fingerprints/submit DNA, show proof of residency, positively prove they are not a felon, bring their certified birth certificate (to weed out those Kenyans who say they were born in Hawaii, shortly before it became a State).

      Driver’s licenses can be forged… and they require a fee to obtain them… some otherwise entitled voters don’t drive… CA ID cards can be forged and also require a fee…

      By FEDERAL law, ‘poll taxes’ are illegal.  Most documents that ID-ers want used require a fee.

      If you are not registered to vote/entitled to vote, there are protections.  When you register to vote, you also sign a document that requires you to, under the penalty of perjury, give facts showing you are entitled, and that has a scrutiny process.

      The big gaping hole, is not citizenship, residency, nor age… it’s whether or not you are a convicted felon, particularly if you were convicted since the last election.

      1. Barack Palin

        (to weed out those Kenyans who say they were born in Hawaii, shortly before it became a State).

        There you go again, projecting something into my post that I never stated.  Chill dude, have another cup.

        1. hpierce

          No, you didn’t, but the ID-ers, and one presidential candidate who has linked the two, have…

          Not intended to be a swipe on you personally, on that point… yet, there are many in the South, and certain mid-west states (Ohio and Indiana, as I recall), who want to restrict voting by those who disagree with them or have separate values… I strongly believe only eligible voters have their votes counted… but, as strongly, I believe no qualified voter should have impediments placed between them and the ballot box.

          As far as I’m concerned BP, I’m at peace with you, but the ID-ers, I have a serious problem with.

          I probably should have clarified that earlier.  I was focused on the concept, not you as an individual, in that portion of my comment… ran into a number of ID-ers Tuesday, who challenged the pollworkers as to why we didn’t require ID’s… AH’s… it may not be “right” but it’s the law (like gravity)… pollworkers don’t make the rules, and cannot change the rules… we are “referees”, to make sure that things are safe and fair… you probably have no sense of the abuse pollworkers take (verbal) when some voter is told that the records (which we are obliged to use ) differs from what they believe to be true… they are the ones who should “chill”.  We always allow someone to vote, but it may be provisional, and we let County elections sort it out, but if we have doubts, we are allowed to note that on provisional ballot envelopes… have had to do that ~ 15 times in the last 20+ years…

          To get a real feel of it, offer your services on an election day, go thru the training, and serve. Hell, take a vacation day, or I’ll pay your full salary/benefits for that day if you get “docked” or can’t afford to take that day off from work!

        2. Barack Palin

          It’s not about you or the poll workers.  It’s about policy that I feel should require an ID to be shown in order to cast a vote.   I really can’t see a problem with that and if we’re being honest we all know that Democrats don’t want ID voting because it works to their advantage not to.

          I remember a news article I read in the 2012 election where a precinct had more votes cast than there were voters registered and magically every vote was for Obama.

          Go figure!

          1. Don Shor

            if we’re being honest we all know that Democrats don’t want ID voting because it works to their advantage not to.

            If we’re being honest, we all know that Republicans want strict ID voting because it works to their advantage to have that.

        3. Barack Palin

          Yeah, it works to the GOP advantage to actually have people have to show ID to prove that they are indeed the person that they’re casting a vote in the name of.

          Is it also a GOP conspiracy when you have to show your ID to get on a plane, cash a check, obtain a passport, etc………?

          1. Don Shor

            Republicans have pushed hard for these laws because they wish to suppress voter participation. You know that if you’re being honest. Since fraud hardly exists, voter ID laws are a solution in search of a problem.

        4. wdf1

          BP:  Yeah, it works to the GOP advantage to actually have people have to show ID to prove that they are indeed the person that they’re casting a vote in the name of.

          Is it also a GOP conspiracy when you have to show your ID to get on a plane, cash a check, obtain a passport, etc………?

          Is there voter fraud that you can point to that justifies the added bureaucracy?

        5. South of Davis

          Don wrote:

          > Since (voter) fraud hardly exists

          I wonder if Don also thinks “tax fraud” “hardly exists”…

          I have worked on campaigns for Democrats in both San Francisco and Los Angeles and I was shocked at the amount of voter fraud I saw (and also shocked at how people openly admit to doing it to a guy that worked for the Regan/Bush campaign in ’84 and the Ed Zschau campaign in ’86 that they just met).  As an example in LA County thousands of Mexican parents of “anchor babies” in the system vote in every election (for the people that give benefits to the kids like) and in San Francisco almost every person living in a San Francisco Housing Authority property votes (even if they have never bothered to register).  At one SFHA property there is a guy who gets all the vote by mail ballots for all the people he registers when they come in and sends them all back after he votes for them (selecting the people that SFHA management likes).  It seems hard to believe that the management of quite a few low income apartments full of people that typically don’t vote would not register the residents and vote for them.  Not to just pick on the left since I have also worked for Republicans and I now know that the party is equally corrupt, but there are a lot of churches that justify voting for others if they are “saving babies” (voting for the bible thumping anti-choice guy) or “protecting the holy land” (by voting for a neo-con that wants to funnel billions to his defense contractor donors).

          P.S. Voter fraud is not new when I was a kid my Mom told me she was shocked to hear that old church going Catholic widows were registering dead people so they could get more votes for Kennedy and finally get a Catholic in the white house.

          P.P.S. I read the book on the link below last year and as I read about the corruption and voter fraud in NY in the early 1900’s I was amazed how similar it was to the corruption and voter fraud in SF in the early 2000’s.

          http://www.amazon.com/Great-Mayor-Fiorello-Guardia-Making/dp/0312287372

          1. Don Shor

            Voter ID makes no difference in the cases that you cite.
            https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/08/06/a-comprehensive-investigation-of-voter-impersonation-finds-31-credible-incidents-out-of-one-billion-ballots-cast/

            But ID laws are not aimed at the fraud you’ll actually hear about. Most current ID laws (Wisconsin is a rare exception) aren’t designed to stop fraud with absentee ballots (indeed, laws requiring ID at the polls push more people into the absentee system, where there are plenty of real dangers). Or vote buying. Or coercion. Or fake registration forms. Or voting from the wrong address. Or ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam. In the 243-page document that Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel filed on Monday with evidence of allegedly illegal votes in the Mississippi Republican primary, there were no allegations of the kind of fraud that ID can stop.

            Instead, requirements to show ID at the polls are designed for pretty much one thing: people showing up at the polls pretending to be somebody else in order to each cast one incremental fake ballot. This is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens.

        6. South of Davis

          Don wrote:

          > Voter ID makes no difference in the cases that you cite.

          But it will make a difference in the most popular voter fraud where a non-citizen is registered to vote then picked up, given free food and taken to the polls to vote…

          Voter fraud is just like steroid use in pro football and pro cycling everyone on the (corrupt) inside knows “everyone is doing it” but no one wants to talk about it.

          The push for IDs to vote is because the GOP is shrinking and the Dems are getting an edge in the cheating.  The GOP thinks that voter ID laws will even things out again.

          P.S. You don’t see the GOP in FL asking for stricter voting requirements since (former communist) Cubans who vote Republican can run circles around the Dems. when stuffing ballot boxes…

    2. Tia Will

      BP

       to see liberals worried about the integrity of mail-in-vote envelopes when they in turn don’t worry too much about the integrity of the identity of the person voting and fight every Voter ID law.”

      I am not sure that you have seen any “liberals” worried about the integrity of envelopes unless you know that author of this article to be a liberal. I was not the least bit worried about the envelopes and was only suggesting alternatives for those that might be.

      Also my personal dislike for voter identification laws has nothing to do with my “liberalism”. What it has to do with is my disgust for attempting to block citizens from voting. The one I chose to write about was my own mother, a life time Republican who was as conservative as I am liberal. I feel that voter ID for some will present an undue barrier to voting, can cost in both time and money, and is just plain foolish especially in instances where the poll worker has known the voter for the past 40 years. I simply do not believe these identification laws are about fraud at all, but are rather to prevent individuals likely to vote against a certain party from being able to vote.

       

      1. Frankly

        attempting to block citizens from voting

        It is prevent non-citizens from voting.  Also, it helps to prevent some dead people from voting.

  6. Anon

    I never received my mail-in ballot, so I went to the County Clerk to get a new one.  As I was standing there, someone else came in because they had not received their mail-in ballot.  Have to wonder where all these ballots have gone to – down the rabbit hole?

    1. hpierce

      Good question… probably the third-most comment made in our precinct… please direct your comment to Yolo County Elections… something happened (or, more likely, didn’t).

      An alternative to your choice is to go to your ‘home’ precinct polling place, explain that to the poll-workers, and you will get a provisional ballot… there even is a specific checkbox on the provisional envelope that the poll-workers fill out, saying that “the voter is listed as VBM but unable to surrender their ballot”… sometimes they never got it, it was sent to their previous address (that can be a ‘problem’, particularly if they never re-registered, and now live in a different City, etc.), or they ‘lost’ it/can’t find it (often “operator error”) [note… it is less disruptive to go look for it, bring it in… ]… if the latter, I try to remind folk that if they find it later, destroy it, and DO NOT send it in… to do so with a pretty good opportunity of being “discovered” (during the canvass), means one of the ballots will NOT be counted, AND you may be charged for crime (forget whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony).

  7. Marina Kalugin

    Dear all, I believe it is still possible to go on the registrar’s site and see if one’s vote has been counted.

    As I have in many, many years, I receive an absentee ballot just in case as I travel a lot, however, I usually am in town and go drop it off at the local box on election day.

    That box at early evening was so overfull that the worker was having a difficult time stuffing ballots in and and my ballot could have been destroyed by that action just as easily.

    hpierce, is it still a “feature” that one can go onto the registrar’s site, and see if the ballot was counted?

    and, you have shared tons of good info along the way, is that info easily found on the FAQs on the voting site?   if not, or if there is no FAQs, I think lots of problems could have been averted…

    Thank you.

    Marina

  8. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    DAVIES: “It has come to the attention of several Yolo County registered voters that as many as 55,000-62,000 (roughly 60% of total county electorate) of June 7 ballots have been compromised and placed at risk for tampering, disqualification or disappearance.”

    If an inordinate number of ballots were disqualified this year, as Ms. Davies claims, then the total votes counted in 2016’s primary would be lower than the total in 2014’s primary (unless she is saying the same problems occurred in 2014). As it happens, the totals are about the same, up by just a little this year.

    2016:
    Early ballots 18,057
    Election ballots 17,277
    Total ballots 35,334

    2014:
    Early ballots 22,021
    Election ballots 11,536
    Total ballots 33,557

    I also checked the total vote count in Yolo County for the Assembly race to see if a rise in disqualified ballots might explain anything about that race’s outcome compared with the same contest two years ago. It does not:

    27,007 voted in the Assembly race in Yolo County in 2016; 25,998 in 2014.

    1. Marina Kalugin

      thank you for posting the link.

      mine is not showing up yet although I dropped it off in the evening on the 7th

      when I had queried during the last election, they told me that if dropped off on the day, they count and then they enter –  so there is a longer delay as they are trying to get the real count out.

      the earlier one gets it in, the quicker their input and then one can be assured sooner of the ballot being received and counted…. but if not traveling, I prefer to wait as new info may be brought forth which I may find results in a change in my vote or voting strategy…

       

  9. Marina Kalugin

    USPS stories about also..even if what was sent had no problems, look at the chewed up stuff which arrives…and yes, one can use some tape or other such “out of the box” thinking……really….

    and one of my sons got a very important letter inviting to an honors program/dorm at his dream university…the only one he applied to…and it arrived weeks after the deadline date and when all spots were full…  happens more than we realize….

  10. talklesslistenmore

    “My vote was not counted. MY VOTE WAS NOT COUNTED. I did mail-in, with confirmation of delivery, and my ballot has not been located. I am so truly angry and frustrated with the system and feel that I am not being heard.”
    –Christina H, Davis, CA
     
    “No wonder…I was wondering why the back flap of my voting envelope was torn and the instructions were not clear. I had to walk my envelope in and make sure it was sealed. Quite sure this was a HUGE flaw in the system.” – Sam Blanco III, City Council, Woodland, CA
     
    “I turned in my mail-in ballot at the polling center on Election Day, and my vote has yet to be received. How much longer should I wait before my vote is processed?”
    –Nicole C., UC Davis, CA
     
    “This issue i can CONFIRM, was widespread, it even occurred to me, I taped and told ppl to sign across the tape. I cannot say that will help.”—Administrator, Davis Coalition for Bernie Sanders
     
    “Is there anything we can do if our vote wasn’t counted?”—Sindoorha T., Davis CA
     
    “My vote by mail never came. Went to the polls and filled out a provisional. It has still not been counted.”—Karen M., Graduate Student, UC Davis
    “Our vote by mail ballots were affected.” –Pilar Y. & Felisa C.
     
    “Mine was half torn and I thought my baby had done it! I was too suspicious bc I had it far from her the whole time. I went in as a walk in voter and they destroy my first ballot so I could vote there though.” – Lucia O., UC Davis
     
    “Ours were affected.”, Cheryl L. & Adrian S., UC Davis
     
    “I mailed my ballot on June 7 and the status is “Not yet received.” I sent and email and I am waiting to hear back. It only had to be delivered about 20 miles, shouldn’t it have been received by now?” –Jennie G., Yolo County, municipality not noted
     
    “Mine was like this, too (angry emoji) wtf.” –Anonymous
     
    “Yes. And I was an inspector for one of the Davis precincts. Even the ballot that came for me (I live in Winters, so they had to give me a mail in so I could vote while working in Davis) had a defective envelope.”–Brandi P., Winters, CA
     
    These are but a smattering of the corroborating remarks from affected VMB (absentee, vote by mail) voters of Yolo County.
     
    Still no response for my demands in the original memo outlining the problem published here on June 8; a problem which now has more serious components to it which go to deliberate disqualification of qualified ballots, and deliberate alteration of our VMB packets which would force a surrender for a provisional ballot, all of which remain uncounted.
     
    Jesse Salinas, County Registrar, and the Board of Supervisors have been silent since I brought original written concerns to their attention.
    It will not go away. We are aware that VBM ballots are counted and certified on Mondays.
    That would be today. 
     
    Noteworthy is that a massive voter registration effort took place at UC Davis this year. Thousands of students registered VBM in this county, knowing
    they would be in finals or finished with studies and out of town on election day. This stands to silence all of them.
     
    And what of the local measures that may indeed have a different outcome if they ever count our votes?
    What of the local, state and federal candidates’ outcomes that may flip if they ever count our votes?
     
    *****************************
    In addition to the Vanguard, the only other major news outlet in this valley which picked this story up was KFBK. (Enterprise, Press Democrat and Sacbee have been silent. Shame on them). KFBK exercised good journalistic judgment and interviewed Jesse Salinas and elections staff before writing this news brief:
     
    Voter Raises Concern About Yolo County Ballot Return Envelope With Flap Flaw
    Posted June 8th, 2016 @ 5:15pm by KFBK News – Ryan Harris
    http://kfbk.iheart.com/articles/kfbk-news-461777/voter-raises-concern-about-yolo-county-14796008/
     
    A potential problem with a batch of mail-in ballot return envelopes had a voter worried several thousand votes might not be counted.
     
    The issue with some of the envelopes, a flap that could tear and expose the signature, was brought to the Yolo County Registrar’s attention by a voter, who claimed it could affect more than 50,000 ballots.
     
    Registrar Jesse Salinas says it was put on the envelopes as a courtesy to help you protect your privacy, but it is not something that has to be there.
     
    “I have staff that have been doing this for 30 years,” Salinas said. “They have shared that this is a courtesy that Yolo had provided, and there were other counties, and they referenced Sacramento County, as not having this privacy, courtesy covering like we have.”
     
    Salinas says voters were given several options if they were worried, like using tape to keep the flap in place or dropping off the ballot at a polling place or drop box.
     
    Salinas says it could affect as many as 3,000 or 4,000 ballot return envelopes, which were leftover from a previous election and used up this time, but he says in no way will that flap be the reason any votes will not be counted.
     
    *******************
     
    However, Jesse Salinas’ response, as embedded in what ultimately ran above, was not only unfactual and incomplete, he attempted to deflect with a false equivalency to the VBM packets in Sacramento County, and the entire response was unhelpful, insulting and demoralizing to thousands of affected VBM voters.
     
    Salinas and elections staff (including predecessor registrar of voters-turned HRC campaign operative Freddie Oakley’s son, who still works there and led the unit during a 6 month vacancy leading up to this repeat mess) are deflecting responsibility, cloaking the widespread nature of this debacle, making up unsatisfactory excuses, distorting the issues, and attempting to assuage the unassuageable:
     
    1. knowingly sending out defective envelopes season after season
     
    2. knowingly putting our ballots at risk for tampering, disqualification, disappearance, and observation of our voting preferences as matched with our identities as voters
     
    3. knowingly putting our sensitive voter data including name, address, and wet signatures at risk for lifting
     
    4. knowingly sending out party preference ballots that they knew would have to be surrendered for provisional ballots (provisional ballots aren’t counted until upwards of 30 days after the election, if at all.)
     
    We were out here, en másse, with compromised VBM envelopes (which even a city council member in a totally different city than mine said affected him and remarked that he was quite sure this was a “HUGE” systemic issue) and Yolo County elections is holding firm to a downplay of the problem. They were, in fact, concealing the problem until one voter (myself) finally piped up, dug a little deeper, and exposed a long standing pattern. Then, and only then, when confronted about a long internally known issue and questioned about it, they deflect responsibility with a suggestion that the remedy for voters who were unhappy about their defective envelopes was to come in and surrender their DEM, REP, other party preference and no preference ballots and vote on provisional ballots in person (on Tuesday Jun 7 only) or in person at Yolo County elections since the corrupted VMB packets were mailed out.
     
    Why weren’t we given proper and uncompromised/uncompromisable VBM ballot packets, when this division had plenty of awareness of the problem in prior elections, plenty of time to correct the matter and reduce our exposure to risk of miscounts/no counts? Why when they “innocently” continued to send out these trainwrecks to supposedly save voters money on old supplies, did they not publish a printed remedy in the new voter information sample ballot books or on the corrupted envelopes? One byline would have done before these went through the address generating printers. One line of print. That doesn’t cost a thing. So we’re not buying it; the excuse that it was a cost matter when they re-ordered the same exact defective envelopes and put them through the same allegedly faulty printer that dislodged the security flaps.
     
    And this doesn’t even touch the widespread reports of people who didn’t even get their VBM packets, who –upon discovery of their missing ballots (assuming there was time remaining in the election)– had to report and obtain a provisional ballot.
     
    Everybody knows that provisional ballots are sketchy business. Millions in our state alone have gone uncounted. They are counted last, if counted at all, and long after elections are called in the media. It’s patently obvious the strategy is to silence the vote or –in the case of a cheap unworkable response such as the one Yolo County Elections was proposing to us– to delay the vote until it’s too late to count it or until after everyone has moved on.
     
    Meanwhile, many of the traditional non-VBM, walkin voters who still have the time and or preference to come in and do it the old fashioned way were also handed provisional ballots when they were party preference voters.
     
    Obstruct. Distort. Silence. Delay. Deflect. In that order, this is what they do to our votes. Voter suppression and election fraud.
    As they say, it’s not the vote that counts, it’s who counts the votes.
     
    As to Mr. Salinas’ mistruths in the KFBK quote:
     
    A. “The flaps on Yolo VBM envelopes are a courtesy but not required by law.” Sure, then again Sacramento County envelopes do not have regular flaps that detach or dislodge *above* the sensitive voter information like they do on YoloCo ballots. While Sacramento County ballots lack the so-called “courtesy flap” Salinas says are present as a favor granted to voters on Yolo County ballots, Sacramento County ballots are more secure because their main flaps close and seal *over* sensitive voter data like name address and wet signature. That makes the example of Sacramento County ballots irrelevant to Yolo County VBM complaint resolution and irrelevant to the widespread harm done, to our grievances and to our immediate demands.
     
    B. The Yolo County elections office has really no way of knowing how many defective envelopes we’re dealing with, or in their words, “as many as 3000 or 4000” ballots. Widespread voters have corroborated that their envelope was affected, including Sam Blanco III, Woodland City Council who affirmed that his was affected, too and added in writing “Quite sure this was a HUGE flaw in the system.” Several poll workers out in the precincts on Tuesday reported the same frequent irregularities witnessed when concerned VBM voters, in possession of defective and insecure return envelopes, walked their ballots in on June 7 to precincts with the defective envelopes. Others reported walking them in at county elections. In both widespread instances, VBM voters had to surrender their party preference ballots for provisional ones (which are placed on the back burner for counting, if counted at all). The other problems with that late-breaking (June 3 obscure and incomplete press release from Beth Gabor YoloCo Public Information Officer) and inadequately disseminated “just walk it in” remedy, of course, are that it is a total inconvenience, at best, and an impossibility at worst, for VBM voters to get to their polls on June 7 (ergo their self-selection as VBM registrants). Forcing people to walk in and surrender their defective VMB ballots defeats the point of absentee voting.
     
    C. The remarks by Jesse Salinas that suggest Yolo County elections was saving county taxpayer dollars by using up defective envelopes (that they KNOWINGLY used in prior elections!) Several holes in that theory, but mainly it doesn’t hold up because it costs elections staff (and us the taxpayers) more money to print and hand out provisional ballots (again those ballots may not be counted after all is said and done anyway). Moreover, it creates an unexpected strain on the precinct polls, pollworkers and traditional voters when upwards of 60% of registered VBM county voter (58,000-60,000 VBM voters) are redirected to physical precincts and have the potential to generate impossibly long lines and strain election day processes at the polls with inadequate staffing and unexpected supply shortages.
     
    D. Jesse Salinas, in an attempt to downplay the magnitude of this issue, used language with me on the telephone and with the reporter “this didn’t affect more than 3 or 4 thousand voters”. No big deal right? WRONG! Not only is this VBM-gate issue more widespread than 3 to 4 thousand voters, his response implies that whether the common denominator of affected voters was 3000, 4000, or 60,000, our singular voices as voters are but mere fractions; they don’t really count, when measured against a majority numerator. That suggestion that it is a minor hiccup that won’t affect outcomes or voter voices (one voice = one vote) doesn’t hold up factually or morally because, in Yolo County, where 60% of voters are VBM, the Yolo County elections office has been systematically, election after election, deliberately distorting the vote of the majority! Each and every vote counts! 60K, 50K, 4K, 3K or only ONE ballot counts! They ALL count! Why does an elections staff that has, according to more dismissive Salinas language, been “doing this for 30 years” not get that?
     
    Some critical additional context:
    This week, the LA County Registrar alone, released this statement: “First estimate of ballots remaining to be processed: ~240,063 provisional; 125,280 VMB returned at polls; 204,946 VBM recorded via mail.”
     
    San Diego County’s website states, “there are approximately 285000 Mail / Provisional ballots still to be counted,” and San Bernardino County has 95,000 more outstanding.
     
    In other words, there are 570,000 ballots to be counted in LA County, 285,000 in San Diego County, 95,000 in San Bernardino County (that’s a total of 950,000 in just three counties), and who knows how many more need to be counted in Yolo and California’s 54 other counties (58 total).
     
    So, respect for the two reporters in our entire valley media (Vanguard and KFBK) who saw that this was important, and potentially a serious piece of evidence that –in triangulation with other widespread accounts of voting irregularities throughout our state, especially last week’s admission by Alex Padilla, Secretary of State that 2,500,000+ ballots remain uncounted and an election watchdog group reporting that from 5,000,000 to 7,000,000 more California mailin/absentee/VBM ballots are yet to be counted– give the appearance of a wider statewide pattern of voter suppression and election fraud than we ever realized.
     
    David Greenwald and the Vanguard also had the conviction to at least publish my chronology of events, communications, and observations on June 8. I invite you to read the corroborating comments by VBM voters and a person claiming to be a poll worker his/herself)
     
    We demand answers. We expect that every ballot –traditional, mailin, AND provisional– be certified and counted and entered into the report that goes forward for our county.
    We want impartial monitors and observers on the ground, during this counting process.
     
    We want to know how many VBM ballots didn’t make it back at all.
     
    We want to know how many VBM ballots made it back having been taped or altered by concerned voters and we want to know the criteria for certifying or disqualifying irregular vote by mail materials.
     
    We want to know how many VBM ballots were surrendered at precincts in exchange for provisional ballots
     
    We want to know how many VBM voters reported not even getting their packets?
     
    Upwards of 60% of Yolo County voters have been affected here!
     
    We want statistics on historical voter turnout that go back to: 1) before the VBM elections were knowingly corrupted by defective envelopes; 2) before Freddie Oakley was registrar; 3) before she hired her son; 4) before her son took the helm during a critical vacancy; and 5) before the supervisors ultimately appointed someone who was so totally inexperienced in early May when it was too late to order proper VBM supplies and make this right and fair for us.
     
    Donna Davies
    Registered Voter
    Yolo County

  11. talklesslistenmore

    Follow up to this piece published Jun 14.

    http://www.davisvanguard.org/2016/06/people-impacted-voter-irregularities/

    Multiple corroborating testimonies of VBM (vote by mail/absentee) envelope defects pouring in on this board and others from registered voters of Davis, Woodland, UC Davis and now Winters. Precinct workers who gave accounts of VBM voters with defective envelopes appearing in person at the precincts to vote and still not seeing their ballot marked as counted. No way of knowing if the effects were, as Salinas suggests, limited to just “3 or 4 thousand” mail-in voters. (a rather cavalier and dismissive notion from Elections staff as it were, since *every* vote ought count) Confirmation of corrupted VBM packets dating back election after election.

    You are strongly encouraged to check the status of your ballot (VBM and/or surrendered VBM ballot for provisional) on the tracker at http://www.yoloelections.org

     

    Jesse Salinas’ and the Board of Supervisors’ since first and second written requests June 8 and 13 for an explanation, reassurance and/or remedy and since this 2 part publication? Crickets …

    1. hpierce

      Ok… every damaged envelope in the precinct I worked at was either repaired the best we could and put in the ballot box, or the voter was allowed to surrender the ballot and issued a new one as a ‘regular voter’… we noted it was surrendered.  No problem as to voting and having the vote counted… big clue:  if you have a damaged VBM ballot, for ANY reason and cannot resolve before Election Day, bring it in, surrender it (or have us fix it), and the vote will go to elections, one way or the other… VBM ballots are NOT necessarily (nor even usually) counted that night, but they should be prior to the finish of the canvass, and actual certified results…

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