Efforts to ensure “democracy” in recent years have focused on expanding not voting rights, already well-established, but voting convenience and capacity. The methods chosen empower opportunities for election irregularities or outright fraud. These new rules and regulations were not offspring of the California State Legislature but fiats of the executive or bureaucratic branches or judicial intervention. Many were dictated as part of a pandemic derived suspension of our unalienable rights and limitations of state government powers. Once again, the Democrat Peoples Republic of Kalifornia leads the way in generating unintended consequences that undermine our Constitutional Republic.
The progression of these methods, whether evolved or connived, is detailed in a lawsuit filed with the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Case No. 2:21-cv-32-AB-MAA. Multiple individual plaintiffs and a non-partisan non-profit public interest organization list many complaints against several California State officials and organizations. These complaints are not about past election results but focus on the gradual development over decades of California’s unconstitutional election process and its effects on future elections, including the 2022 mid-term Federal elections. Multiple new state laws and regulations coordinate to send ballots to large numbers of ineligible voters, eliminate chain of custody of the voted ballots, disable signature verification and voter identification protections, and result in treating in-person voters differently from Vote by Mail voters. The effect is an environment in which elections can be manipulated or inadvertent mistakes caused by these faulty processes disenfranchise legitimate voters and legitimize unenfranchised persons.
What are these faulty processes?
Most basically California is failing to maintain accurate and up to date voter rolls. While the National Voters Registration Act requires states to remove ineligible voters from rolls in a timely manner and specifies procedures for this, California does so permissively, not as mandated by Federal law. Despite daily updates by the State database and individual counties regarding recorded deaths, changes of address and identification, and incarceration in the prison system, the voter rolls remain swollen with incorrect and out of date data. The state ended absentee ballots, and in an unconstitutional mandate by our Governor began sending all persons on the voter rolls a Vote by Mail ballot without requiring any verification of current eligibility, state residence, or even life. This was then seconded by the state legislature. Yet State data show many persons who were deceased, moved, or otherwise were ineligible have voted. The basic process of Vote by Mail was found by two Presidential Election Commissions in 2001 and 2005 (after prior contested elections) to fail five requirements for fair and honest elections, enabling possible manipulation or fraud. The Federal government next required states to establish statewide voter databases; California finally complied in 2016 fourteen years after the law took effect. The State awarded the database work in a no-bid non-competitive contract, and with no transparency as to the database’s certification. California went further with on-line voter registration, resulting in over 6,000 duplicate registrations in the first month alone. Then came the Department of Motor Vehicles registration for voting, automatic for everyone getting a California driver’s license unless they opt out of being registered. The DMV is not required or empowered to establish whether the registrant is a citizen, already registered, or eligible to vote. This results in many illegal immigrants being registered, and many duplicate registrations. Examples of established errors include the date of birth differing, or the place of birth being changed to California and/or the U.S.A. All such non-voters now receive ballots, and as seen below may continue to do so for many years. Many thousands of ballots have been mailed repeatedly to the last known address of possibly eligible voters who have not voted for up to 40 years! Removal from the voter rolls, mainly at the county level, may take four federal election cycles or eight years altogether. Vote by Mail ballots returned by the USPS as undeliverable (bad address, or person no longer there) are followed up by post cards mailed repeatedly to the voter by the local Registrar of Voters; after two election cycles (for which they still are mailed ballots) the voter is moved to the inactive roll; after another two election cycles (of 2 years each) the voter is finally removed. The entire process of voter database maintenance is rife with opportunity for error.
Such errors have been specifically noted to the California Secretary of State, the ultimate authority in voter registration. Before the 2020 election the Secretary was warned that an audit of the State Voter Roll showed at least 22,000 voters (about the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden) registered at least twice and about 5,000 voters mailed at least 2 ballots. Another evaluation of the database found almost one-half million ineligible voters on the rolls and 24,000 duplicated registrants receiving at least 2 ballots each. Other evidence indicates that California has over one million more registered voters than eligible citizens. State records show about 14,000 voters registered who are deceased. There are over 100,000 others who are probably ineligible by state criteria (residing out of state, too young, etc.).
These massive opportunities for, and documented instances of, issuance of illegitimate ballots through the incompetence of California’s Voter Rolls directly amplifies downstream problems of ballot chain of custody and voter signature verification.
Ballots arrive at a County Registrar of Voters offices by a variety of unsecured routes. Classically a voter arrives at their precinct, confirms their status as a properly registered voter, receives a paper ballot printed on a state mandated special paper with a watermark, and records their vote. The voter then places the ballot into a secured container, guarded and transported by election workers given a state mandated oath to maintain and deliver the ballots to the central processing center via a recorded chain of custody. Under new laws and regulations that often conflict with each other, several versions of a ballot travel through a variety of hands. At non-precinct Voting Centers, non-citizen poll workers are allowed, although they cannot take the required oath of office/service since they still have foreign allegiance. Minors are also allowed in limited numbers as election workers. Voters can still confirm their registration status and vote a ballot printed for them on site; other voters drop off their Vote by Mail ballots inside sealed, signed, dated envelopes bar coded as theirs. These and provisional ballots, conditional ballots, and same day registration ballots travel at the end of each day via private auto in company of two certified election workers, with no stops along the way allowed except for emergencies. Other ballots are delivered by uncertified “harvesters”, either to vote centers or to community secured drop boxes. Unlike those who assist a voter or deliver a ballot for a friend or family member, these harvesters are not required to sign the ballot envelopes under penalty of perjury. Because of the obvious opportunity for fraud, many states have outlawed this practice. Multiple ballots can be stuffed into one ballot envelope, even though that envelope is bar-coded to one specific voter. All the voters are supposed to sign the envelope, but their signatures are not under penalty of perjury. Since each included ballot has no voter identification. If one or more of the signatures is found to be invalid (or the voter ineligible), there is no way to ascertain which of the ballots should not be counted. In some areas of the state plain paper ballots are allowed if they are in a ballot envelope (what happens to the ballot originally sent with that envelope?). Although community drop boxes are physically secured to their site, no monitoring of activity occurs; the boxes are emptied by at least two certified election workers who transport ballots in their envelopes as noted above. In some areas of California, the boxes have not been emptied until the day after the election, allowing late ballots to be counted despite legal restrictions. In other areas ballot boxes have been found to be unsealed; in other locations ballots were accepted at curbside without verifying the signature on the envelope or identity of who was dropping it off. One Registrar of Voters office was even found open, unlocked, and untended in the 2020 election. Remote Access Vote by Mail was originally a program to allow military members to vote; they could print out their ballot from an on-line site then vote that ballot and mail it in. It would then be “duplicated” on proper ballot paper by central vote processing personnel, hopefully without error. This program has been expanded to allow many others to vote in this manner, again without any signature verifying under penalty of perjury that they are the legitimate voter. Other ballots damaged by machine handling at the central processing site or in transit are likewise duplicated and recorded, ostensibly by at least two persons to confirm accuracy. Ballots and their envelopes are separated early in the central processing without any auditable trail. Images of the ballots and the envelopes are not available to the public for later examination. Most votes in California may now be delivered through USPS, passing through many hands and places with no recorded chain of custody. Finally, ballots without discernible postmarks that arrive up to 17 days after the election may still be counted so long as the voter dated the envelope. But where was that ballot before or on election day? This polyglot non-system allows leakage of votes out of and into an election.
Signature verification of votes is even more porous. When voters register online, there is no way to verify the signature unless DMV signature is used; thus subject to misrepresentation. At same-day registration or voting on site, that signature becomes the new recorded signature for future verification. Voters at Vote Centers are no longer required to state their name and address and have it repeated back to them, enhancing opportunities for fraudulent identification. When the signed ballot envelopes are processed in a County’s central processing center the envelopes are scanned and the signature image is displayed four at a time on screens for review by persons trained in signature verification. Many centers spend only five seconds per set of four signatures. The criteria for verification are somewhat loose and broad, and any doubts are to be dropped in favor of the voter. Signatures can be challenged if two verifiers agree “beyond reasonable doubt” that the signatures don’t match in “multiple, significant, and obvious respects”. Verifiers are to pass many signatures on the basis that a voter’s signature style may have changed over time. In one county less than 0.5% of signatures are ultimately rejected-is any system really this accurate? Various other emergency regulations directly contradict numerous state statutes. Computer signature recognition technology cannot be used to reject signatures. If multiple ballots are returned in the same envelope, only the main “under penalty of perjury” signature can be compared, thus the others, if present, are passed through (this also eliminates the use of the envelope barcode identifying ONE particular voter as having voted; the others included might be able to vote multiple times in other ways). For all these reasons the use of a verified photo identification may be preferable.
“Curing” rejected signatures is also threadbare. The voter identified on the envelope (again, not necessarily other multiple included ballots) is contacted asking for verification either on-line or by form letter. The voter may not see the ballot envelope signature in question for actual verification. Since these envelopes are separated from the anonymous ballot early in processing, an illegitimate vote may be counted since verification requests continue up to the date of election certification. These signature curing procedures also facilitate election manipulations or honest errors.
Treating different voters differently is the final procedural calamity. In-person voters do have their registration and identity evaluated somewhat at the time they cast their anonymous ballot. That ballot, unfolded, is immediately secured in a locked compartment with less difficulties in chain of custody as noted above. The ballot arrives at the Central Processing office and does not need to move through the signature verification machine, nor the machine that slices open the ballot envelope, nor be removed and unfolded and flattened by election officials before being run through the machine tabulator. It still may be damaged in some way that requires election officials to “remake” it for counting. Remote voters (Vote by Mail and Remote Access Vote by Mail) may “dilute” the votes of in-person voters if their ballots are indeed ineligible or fraudulent in the many ways noted above. Since remote voters’ signatures can now be certified or decertified up to the date of election certification, ineligible votes may already have been counted with no way to retract them. Those remote ballots delivered by harvesters or by other than the voter and previously disqualified for lacking the deliverers’ name, relationship, or signature are now counted. Remote voting by plain paper is allowed by emergency regulation, again violating prior state law and equivalency for in-person voters. Remote votes lacking a legible postmark but having a written in date by the voter may be counted even if received up to 17 days after the election. In further violation of due process and equal treatment, different California county registrars implement different election rules and practices, treating voters differently from one county to another.
Beyond gross procedural laxities, actual conduct of prior elections has been slipshod. The absolute right of citizens to closely observe the voting and vote processing procedures under strict guidelines is well-established in California State law. Multiple instances of violations of these laws have been recorded by witnesses in sworn affidavits. A county grand jury found that their election department was not regularly performing vulnerability and penetration testing of voting information systems. Although state law specifically authorizes citizen observers to see each voter’s signature, registrars frequently prevent the observers from being close enough to do so. In other jurisdictions observers were not allowed to see military, damaged, or defective ballots being remade. In others they were prevented from viewing voting machines (while voters were not present). In some venues observers were completely prevented from entering; in others they were told vote processing had finished, but it was later restarted in their absence. Some were prevented from observing the closing procedures of voting centers. Occasionally remote viewing by computer screen was provided, but the view was too distant or obscured or intermittently turned off. In more than one county observers were prevented from entering the tabulation room to observe counting or allowed in a tightly limited area twenty feet away from the process. In one county ballots were left in a tallying machine overnight unattended each night of the election. In one county the Registrar of Voters office was found open, unlocked, and unattended by an observer at the beginning of the day. Within California, procedures should be highly regimented and routinely monitored by officials and observers.
Voting machines themselves are problematic, as their software (and therefore processing of ballots and verification of the count) is proprietary in nature and not subject to public or official scrutiny. One county had discrepancies between poll data tapes from voting machines and tabulation of those votes in the final count. “In Ventura County, a voting machine company employee was observed inserting a flash drive into a voting machine while it was tallying votes, after which the system was rebooted. The employee then removed the drive from the machine, placed it into his own laptop, and performed operations on the laptop. He then removed the drive from the laptop and provided it to the Ventura County election official who was operating the voting system.” (Quoted from lawsuit complaint). Adjudicated ballots can be moved between terminals with no audit trail. Reports can be generated from the machines and then deleted, with no public review possible. Many other instances of potential for malfeasance have been noted in this Federal court case. Although officials strongly deny machine connectivity to the internet, the machines can be so connected. Multiple experts have testified that the machines are readily hackable. One state refused to certify the most common machine system because their experts could not be sure the system was safe from manipulation. Court cases in several states have established the questionable certitude of using these systems for vote counting. As long as these non-public but potentially open systems are used, election integrity remains in question.
A combination of visual machine and human counting of in-person, paper ballots voted by identity confirmed voters remains the gold standard of election integrity. California’s rush to convenience and capacity has dissolved our confidence in our most basic democratic process.
© Nik Bednarski, M.D. 2022