As a court date for a lawsuit that could change how San Diego County audits its elections approaches, the California secretary of state has told officials across the state that they do not need to change their procedures for double checking the accuracy of their automated vote-counting equipment. The top lawyer for the secretary of state says counties do not need to include provisional and mail-in ballots when manually auditing votes. The “Secretary of State’s position is that neither provisional ballots nor all vote-by-mail ballots are required to be included in the one percent manual tally,” Chief Counsel Steven Reyes wrote in a September 15 letter. The memo was written in response to an effort by a San Diego-based organization that’s trying to get counties to use a different interpretation of the state’s laws on election audits.
Ray Lutz, the national coordinator of the Citizens’ Oversight Project, filed a lawsuit earlier this year that says San Diego County should follow a part of state law that requires provisional and mail-in ballots to be counted in addition to regular ballots when completing mandatory election audits. If these two types of ballots aren’t counted, some 37 percent of votes won’t be considered and the accuracy of the outcome can’t be trusted, Lutz said.
“The automated machinery could be hacked, could be rigged,” he said.
He said the conclusions reached in Reyes’ letter are incorrect, and that states must include all types of ballots in their audits. A spokesman for Secretary of State Alex Padilla said the office disagrees with Lutz’s interpretation of the law.