With more than a million primary ballots still uncounted in California, hundreds of thousands of additional provisional ballots uncounted in primaries across the nation and widespread reports of irregularities at the polls and with voter registration, this Kossack has received numerous phone calls and emails from people who say they have experienced difficulty voting or who are worried that their votes won’t be counted.
With voters across California having reported many problems with their registrations being dropped, their party affiliations being inexplicably changed, police intimidation and receiving the wrong ballots that didn’t let them vote for president, it’s unsurprising that widespread accusations of voter suppression and disenfranchisement were reported. Still, these problems seem underreported, so this Kossack reached out to people who have been affected by them.
Carey Wheaton, a Sebastopol social worker and Sanders campaign volunteer, has been investigating voter complaints and found many people who say their votes were not counted. Wheaton referred at least half a dozen such individuals to me for interviews.
“My vote was stolen in San Diego,” said Fortune Faychild. “My Democratic primary mail-in ballot wasn’t counted because officials claimed I am not registered at the address where I received my mail-in ballot, the same address I’ve lived at for over 20 years. I was illegally removed from the registered voter list and my vote will not be counted due to fraud.”
Sometimes the reasons given for not counting ballots have seemed trivial, at best. “I received a letter from Trinity County, California concerning my absentee ballot,” said Richard Bayne. “It said that they were not going to count my ballot because the signature on my ballot didn’t appear to match the signature on my affidavit of registration. To me it seems bogus, as the ‘R’ in my signature is very distinctive.”
Others said they initially experienced difficulties but were eventually able to vote.
“I registered as a Democrat in Humboldt County through the mail in October 2015 and I received a Peace and Freedom ballot,” said Kristine Florian of Willow Creek. “I made a bunch of phone calls and complained… my husband insisted that I re-register online. Good thing I did, because I was able to re-register as a Democrat.”
“I hope my vote gets counted,” added Florian, who said she felt “violated” by her ordeal. “What kind of country are we living in? she asked.
Others haven’t been so successful and have reported experiencing great difficulty when attempting to get their ballots counted.
“[Election officials] have not responded to my emails, and calling got me an automated answer where I left my complaint. Emails have not been answered,” said Faychild. “When I finally got a human on the line at the registrar’s office I was told that even though the website is set up where you can check to see if your vote is counted, I won’t be able to get that information until July 8 when the election is certified. Seems like this July 8 thing is a handy way to not have to deal with complaints.”
Faychild, a Sanders supporter, says she believes “the Democratic primaries countrywide have been run to keep Bernie from being nominated… too many problems in too many places.”
Although this diary deals solely with California’s Democratic primary, well-publicized problems across the nation have raised questions about possible voter disenfranchisement, irregularities and fraud. The watchdog and activist organization Election Justice USA has documented thousands of cases in at least 30 states in which voters claimed they were prevented from voting—or forced to vote provisionally—after their registrations were purged, switched, or otherwise tampered with.
In New York, where the New York City Board of Elections confirmed that more than 125,000 voters in Brooklyn were removed from voter rolls amid widespread reports of people having trouble accessing polling sites and other irregularities, the New York City comptroller’s office launched an audit of the board. The NYC board has quietly restored nearly 120,000 Democrat voters to the rolls. In California, the secretary of state’s office is investigating allegations of voter fraud in Siskiyou County. If you believe you have fallen victim to electoral improprieties, Election Justice USA has provided this form for you to report your issue.