Thursday, June 23, 2016

How Votes Were Nullified in California? By Julia Stein  June 17, 2016

By June 10, 2016, three days after the election, six million voters had been counted in California, but 2.5 million hadn’t been counted. Though pre-vote surveys showed Sanders only very narrowly behind Clinton right before voting day, the June 7 election count had Sanders 43% and Clinton 56%  (Sanders received 483,000 less votes than Clinton).  By law counties in California don’t have to finish their vote counting until July 8, 2016. Vote counting went slowly through June 16 when 1.9 million ballots still haven’t been counted (Truthdig). California votes were nullified.

According to the San Jose Mercury News in the 2012 primary election 31% of registered voters voted in California (2/3 of the states have more people voting), so the Democratic legislature in January 2016 changed the voting registration procedure making it easier and 650,000  people registered spring 2016, the largest increase in people 18-29.  The new law also allows people to be automatically registered when they visit the Department of Motor Vehicles, potentially adding up to 6.6 million new voters:   the legislature reasoned easier registration, problem solved. Though the state’s voting procedures and different ballots are quite complicated, a few Sanders’ supporters were the only people who tried to do any education on how to vote for new voters before election day.
June 6, 2016, the day before five states including California voted, the Associated Press and NBC  “News” both announced that Hillary Clinton had won the nomination based on a poll of super delegates, who don’t vote officially until July 25--a 100% false report. Mindy Romero, director of the UC Berkeley California Civil Engagement Project believes the AP report lowered turnout as many voters stayed home on Election Day—some Sanders voters stayed home.

A just released Harvard study by Professor T. Patterson and the Shorenstein Center on Media, Public Policy, and Politics, after studying eight cable news networks and newspapers, said, “The perception of the Clinton vs. Sanders race created by the media’s earliest coverage generated an aura of inevitability for Hillary Clinton and encouraged a dismissive attitude toward Sanders despite his early mega-rallies on the West Coast and huge advantage with small-dollar donations.” The Harvard study vindicated Bernie supporters that the mass media gave more coverage to Clinton “for the purpose of driving ad revenue and clicks rather than for the purpose of informing the public.”

Democracy Now on June 9, 2016, had Sanders consultant Larry Cohen say Sanders delegates at the Democratic Convention will criticize the problems in voting and will try to abolish the super delegate system. Super delegates are 15 % of the delegates whom voters don’t elect. The party elite, choosing super delegates from either other party elites or paid lobbyists who fund campaigns, instituted the super delegate system to end the voter insurgencies of the late 1960s and 1970s. Cohen argues corporations/Wall Street control the Democratic Party through the use of super delegates and their money, describing how in the state of Washington Sanders won with 72% of the vote but didn’t get one super delegate.

In Los Angeles voters recounted anecdotes of chaotic voting.  The Los Angeles Times reported June 14, 2016, that LA County Supervisors heard dozens of complaints from voters and poll workers about “broken voting machines, names missing from voter rosters, and polling stations that ran out of ballots.”  Marcia Martin, polling station inspector, said many voters were “recorded as vote-by-mail or never received their ballots, people complained their names didn’t appear on the rolls, and voters were registered with a party they hadn’t signed up for.”  Many of those complaining were first-time voters. Sanders voters complained they weren’t given ballots that allowed them to vote in the Democratic primary. Many poll workers were poorly trained.

L.A. County Register –Recorder Dean Logan acknowledged problems caused by “the surge in new voters and existing voters switching party preference …,” and he blamed other problems on a too-complex voting system which was “challenging for voters, cumbersome for poll workers, and difficult to administer.”  Logan added that L.A. country is overhauling its voting machine system, “eventually replac[ing] ink-based balloting with touch-screen machines.”  If Los Angeles or any other county in the state were serious about vote counting, they’d first train poll workers better and then just hire a great number of short-term workers to count quickly before, on, and just after election day.

Further, California voters are 48% Democrats, 27% Republicans, and 23% independents or 4.6 million independents, many of which are Sander’s voters and/ or young first-time voters who lean to Sanders. Democratic leaders know that about 48% reliably vote Democratic each election. Retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, a pillar of the state’s Democratic elite, had a bad feud with Sanders’ supporters stemming from her being booed by them at the Nevada Democratic Party Convention. The Democratic elite might have good reasons not to invest in new, simplified voting procedures if they fear they will be rejected by the millions of new voters, but if the Democratic elite  restore the state’s New Deal heritage of free public tuition at UC and Cal State Universities (I went to UC Berkeley for $180/year in the 1960s), $15/hour minimum wage, etc, young voters will vote Democratic.

Similar voting problems to Los Angeles’ were reported across the state (San Diego voters held a protests against the same flaws as L.A. voters had complained), but no systematic study has been made and no lawsuit has been filed. If the state’s voting system breaks down with 650,000 new voters, how could it handle 6 million new voters? Though it’s commendable to make voter registration easier, the state needs to simplify its cumbersome voting procedures, get updated machines that also have paper ballots, get enough trained poll workers for the next election, and educate new voters before election day. Senator Senders on CBS news has endorsed open primaries, same day registration, and enough trained staff to get the votes counted quickly.

Californians who want to see votes quickly counted so they count should first try for a serious dialogue with the legislature and the counties that California’s voting procedures be simplified and able to handle 6.6 new million voters without breakdown. Now 2.5 million votes have been nullified by inept voting procedures, mass media propaganda, and the super delegate system.  If the state doesn’t improve how it votes, more millions of votes could be nullified in the next election.

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