The Napa County grand jury issued a new report this week calling for the county’s registrar of voters to be appointed — not elected — and for a new independent board that would have oversight of the elections process. The grand jury also wants interim ballot counts to be released between Election Night and the final certified results, as the three-week wait to know the results of the 2012 elections led some residents and candidates to express frustration with Registrar of Voters John Tuteur. The grand jury monitored the Elections Division’s performance last fall. Its report criticizes aspects of how the division handled citizen complaints, how precincts with polling places were switched to vote-by-mail without public input, and how some residents were delayed in receiving ballot pamphlet. It found no problems with the accuracy of the polling machines, the handling and counting of ballots, or security measures for maintaining and storing ballots, according to the report.
The report reserved its harshest criticism for Tuteur being an elected official overseeing the Elections Division, and states that it prevents the creation of an independent oversight board. The grand jury asserted that it was the sole independent oversight of county elections.
“The operation of a smooth, responsive election process is essential to a well-functioning democracy,” the report states. “It is almost inconceivable that an office with these most important and challenging responsibilities is not subject to periodic audit and oversight by an independent citizens board charged with that particular responsibility.”
Full Article: Grand jury wants elections process overhauled.