California: Is Los Angeles County Above the Law?
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By Sherry Healy, California Election Protection Network
November 06, 2005
Officials in the nation's largest county appear to be laboring under an alarming
misinterpretation of the state's venerable mandatory random audit
provision. According to an email
from Conny McCormack, Registrar/Recorder of Los Angeles County has
asserted that “early voted ballots on DREs…are not required to be a part of
the 1% manual tally.” Subsequent correspondence with the Registrar’s
office revealed that neither absentee ballots nor early vote ballots
are audited and that the county apparently intends to violate the state
election code by reporting those votes by ballot type rather than by
The One Percent Recount is detailed in California Election Code 15360
which states that “during the official canvass of every election in
which a voting system is used, the official conducting the election
shall conduct a public manual tally of the ballots tabulated by those
devices cast in 1 percent of the precincts chosen at random by the
elections official.” Nowhere are early votes, which are considered a
subset of absentee votes, nor any particular type of voting system
excluded from this 1% recount. If McCormack has been routinely
excluding absentee, early votes, or votes on DREs from the recount in
her county, the selection of precincts can hardly be considered to have
McCormack’s email confirmed a statement in an earlier email
Deborah Wright, her Executive Liaison Officer, who wrote that
“Absentee ballots are not counted by precinct but by ballot group.
They are not included in the 1% random hand tally. Neither are DRE
results.” So the Registrar’s office is planning to exclude both
absentees and early votes from the state’s mandatory audit. And those
will be reported by ballot type rather than by precinct.
However, California Election Code Section 15373 in reference
to the required certified statement of the election results that “ the
result of the vote shall be shown by precinct.” There is no exemption
for absentee or early votes. Perhaps the absentee and early votes are
not counted by precinct, in violation of the code, as a way of
excluding them from the state’s recount provision since through a
strict reading of the provision it could be argued that it is a recount
of “1 percent of the precincts”.
All this to avoid that pesky recount?
Conversations with other county registrars reveal little confusion
about the inclusion of absentee and early votes in the state’s
mandatory recount nor the need to report such votes by precinct. How is
it then that Los Angeles County has decided to reinterpret the state’s
To get more information and find out how you can help please contact California Election Protection Network.
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