Who Really Won?

Friday, March 31, 2006

Did Orwell Write the Help America Vote Act?

Thousands of Californians who register to vote or update their records may not receive sample ballots or be able to vote as absentees because of the state's new method of verifying identities, election officials say.

A new statewide database designed by Secretary of State Bruce McPherson to authenticate voter registrations has blocked otherwise valid registrations because of computer glitches, slight discrepancies in spelling or incomplete applications.

The problems have required registrars to contact voters — a time-consuming process that is already taxing some counties facing elections next month.

San Diego County is racing to rectify rejected registrations in time for the April 11 special election to fill the seat vacated by convicted Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

"We're working overtime to get these voters cleared," said Tim McNamara, assistant registrar of voters in that county.

In Los Angeles County, the database rejected 14,629 people — 43% of those who registered from Jan. 1 to March 15. Officials are trying to resolve the problems in time for municipal elections April 11 in 14 cities in the county. They say the challenge will be far larger for the June 6 primary, which will involve many more voters.

In any election, voters whose registrations are in dispute have to cast provisional ballots, which are not counted until authorities determine that the voter is legitimate.

How the new system "is bogging down the process is now extremely significant and will become catastrophic as we approach the major election in June," said Conny McCormack, Los Angeles County registrar.