Martha Sullivan and Ray Lutz (center)
Protesters gathered outside the San Diego Registrar of Voters on Monday morning (June 13), demanding county registrar Michael Vu change the method used for selecting a sample of ballots to be manually tallied from last Tuesday's election.
"We're extremely concerned about people who were non-partisan voters who went to a precinct to vote and were given a provisional ballot. Those people should have been able to vote with a regular Democratic ballot had they chosen to do so," said activist Ray Lutz. "Most of them were Bernie Sanders supporters who wanted to vote for Bernie for president, and they needed a partisan ballot to do so. Those should have gone into the regular batch of ballots to be processed on election night. Instead, they were sidelined."
Lutz and others charged that last week's election was plagued by "a plethora of problems,” including voters who were mistakenly told their registration had been switched to mail-ballot status, a lack of sufficient Democratic ballots at polling sites (independent, or "no party preference" voters can opt to receive a partisan ballot in California primaries — independent ballots themselves do not have a slot to vote for presidential candidates), and a practice of placing a "provisional" status on an inordinate number of ballots.
These provisional ballots, as well as votes by mail that hadn't been tallied the night of the election, are the focus of activists protesting the manual count. As many as 285,000 ballots, they say, weren't included in the sample of about 290,000 ballots from which Vu selected a one percent sample to manually check.
"What we're saying is that [Vu] needs to wait until there's a complete universe to sample from. Otherwise, this is a half-percent sample, and that doesn't comply with state law," explained political organizer Martha Sullivan.
Lutz suggested that by not including provisional ballots in the tally, Sanders supporters would be significantly under-represented, and that with the inclusion of all votes the local results (which heavily favored presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton) might even be reversed. He went on to call for the removal of Vu from the registrar position.
"This is a guy who worked in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, in 2004 when [former president George W.] Bush stole that election, and two of his subordinates were fired for absentee voter fraud," said Lutz. "He has a history of problems, and those problems are reoccurring here."