Want to see every ballot cast in the last election with your own two eyes? The Humboldt County Registrar makes that possible in her home near the Oregon border. Humboldt Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich responded to controversy and an outcry from residents by creating a system for anyone to request a scanned version of the vote through the Humboldt County Elections Transparency Project. In 2008, to the dismay of Humboldt County voters, 197 votes (or 0.3 percent of the total vote) disappeared due to a software malfunction. Apparently, it wasn’t the first time for this software to simply delete ballots and Crnich was rightly approached by constituents who had grave concerns regarding the voting system soon after the election results. The software is made by Diebold, a name which may conjure up memories of hanging chads in Florida in 2000 and other issues in 2004. Crnich and that same group of constituents did an audit after connecting the dots on Diebold’s spotty history and found the missing ballots. Locals thought the software was too closed off from the public and wanted a better auditing process. After pinpointing the problem, the Secretary of State’s office swiftly initiated an investigation and decertified the faulty software.
California: Voter registration deadline looms; official worries of confusion with new primary system | Times-Standard
With television advertisements and lawn signs around every turn, campaign season is in full gear, but time is running out to register to cast a vote in the June election. Prospective voters have until the close of business Monday to drop off their registration forms at the Humboldt County Elections Office or get them postmarked if they wish to participate in the June primary election. The June 5 ballot will feature a number of local races — including those for 1st, 2nd and 3rd District supervisor — and candidates vying to represent the area in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the California State Assembly. The election will also be a historic one. It’s the first time the state will roll out its new “Top Two” primary system, which will see voters choose from a single list of candidates — regardless of political affiliations — for state and national offices other than that of president. The new system will then see the top two vote getters move on to a runoff in the general election in November. The new system does not apply to local races, in which candidates can still win outright and avoid a runoff election by winning 50 percent plus one vote in June.
Carolyn Crnich likes to be second-guessed: The registrar of voters in Humboldt County, Calif., scans every ballot and makes the election results available, online or on disk, so that anyone, anywhere, can count them. Community activists do just that. The result: 100 percent audits of the supervisor’s results, a sharp contrast to Florida, which limits vote counts to a small number of ballots in a single race. “I don’t like saying to my constituents, ‘Hey, just trust me,’ ” Crnich said. “Now, I don’t have to. Count them yourself, and if you find anything out of the ordinary, I want to know.” In 2008, the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project did find something out of the ordinary: 197 ballots dropped by machines. That led to an examination of the elections software used in Humboldt, about 200 miles north of San Francisco. So many problems were found, the system was decertified for use in California. It continues counting ballots in two Florida counties without incident, although a state Division of Elections advisory urged counties to get an upgrade. But elections supervisors shouldn’t get too comfortable with any system, experts say.
California: Printing the elections: Mail processing’s role in the season Locals say consolidation affects campaigns, ballots | Times-Standard
If the U.S. Postal Service’s proposed mail processing center consolidation is implemented, local officials are concerned about possible repercussions on the upcoming election season. In addition to impacting the timeliness of mail-in votes, the consolidation may also raise the cost of printing and shipping ballots, according to local officials and Times Printing Co., the company that prints local election materials.
Postal Service spokesman James Wigdel said concerns surrounding the election, and others, are being discussed. ”That’s something that we would consider prior to a decision being made about the move,” he said.
At the Dec. 15 meeting regarding the consolidation of the Eureka mail processing center with one in Medford, Ore., Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich said the delay in processing could pose a problem for election mailings, especially mail-in ballots. Seventy-two percent of the voters in Humboldt County’s last election voted by mail. Crnich said the delay could mean ballots arriving late and not being counted.
California: Transparency Project nabs federal grant; money to be used to augment post-election audit project, allow for duplication elsewhere | Times-Standard Online
A local project that uncovered a fatal flaw in Humboldt County’s old elections system just got some national recognition that may ultimately lead to its becoming the standard rather than the exception. The federal Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) officially notified the Humboldt County Elections Office this week that it was receiving a $25,000 grant to…