A coalition of civil rights and voting advocacy groups lashed out Friday at Alameda County election officials after poll workers wrongly told more than 150 voters that their paper ballot was only a receipt and that it could be taken home, leading to the votes not being counted. The mistake, the groups allege, affected voters who visited one or more locations in Oakland to cast ballots in person between Oct. 31 and election day. “We spoke to some of the poll workers there who were really alarmed,” said Angelica Salceda, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. The voting rights advocates said that some voters who showed up at a polling place on the campus of Mills College during the four-day period were told the ballot marking device they had used was keeping a digital record of their selections on federal, state and local races. In reality, the device only makes marks on a paper ballot, which the voter then must submit to an election official. Instead, poll workers “incorrectly told voters … that the printouts from the machines were ‘receipts’ that the voters should take with them, rather than official ballots that they should deposit in the ballot box,” representatives of 15 civil rights and voting rights groups wrote in a letter Thursday to Tim Dupuis, the Alameda County registrar of voters. “In general, voters who cast their ballots at Mills College were disproportionately Black, and many of the voters who had been actively encouraged by poll workers to use the [ballot marking devices] were disabled or elderly.”
California: The Newsom recall could cost $400 million. Who pays for it? | John Myers/Los Angeles Times
It’s well known that elections have consequences. They also have price tags. With signs pointing to a special election this fall at which voters could remove Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, local officials from across California believe the cost of conducting the election could run as high as $400 million. The estimate is four to five times higher than rough guesses bandied about in recent months and is equal to a cost of about $18 per registered voter — more than double what local elections officials say was spent on California elections in 2018. It’s a price they say counties, which are struggling to cover pandemic-related costs for health and human services programs, will need the state to cover. “There is an urgency to this,” said Donna Johnston, the registrar of voters in Sutter County and president of the California Assn. of Clerks and Elected Officials. Johnston’s group bases its $400-million estimate on a preliminary tally of costs from the November 2020 election, for which every registered voter was mailed a ballot and in-person voting was subject to strict rules designed to minimize the risk of coronavirus infections.