Marina Campaign for Change volunteers say mix-up may have cost their candidates votes.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Monterey County Elections Office and county Democratic Central Committee are investigating whether a group of Marina voters received an erroneous notice to vote at a Salinas church on Nov. 4.
Poll observers say at least two voters in the Preston Park neighborhood complained about an Elections Office notice that said their polling place had changed from Laurel Wood Elementary School in Marina to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Salinas. Both of these locations are wrong. Voters in Marina precinct 475369 were supposed to cast ballots at the Nancy Dodd Community Center.
“If a voter is misdirected, it’s a serious issue,” says Vinz Koller, chairman of the Democratic Central Committee. But Koller stops short of criticizing election officials until Democrats determine the reason and scope of the mistaken notification.
Linda Tulett, county registrar of voters, says her office is looking into the rumor, but staff are busy tallying votes to certify the election by Dec. 2. Tulett says she doesn’t think the incorrect notification was widespread. “I can’t confirm anything at this point,” Tulett says. “I never heard from a single voter.” (Valerie Lane, chairwoman of SAVElections Monterey County, however, says she did bring the issue to Tulett’s attention on Nov. 4.)
Poll observers documented only one case of an invalid notice. Frederick Douglas Clemmons, who lives on Stewart Court in Marina, received the mailer advising him to vote in Salinas. But he realized it was a mistake and voted at the Nancy Dodd Center, says poll watcher Tim Wilson. (Clemmons could not be reached for comment.)
Paula Pelot, a data collector for the Marina Campaign for Change and chairwoman of the Preston Park Tenants Association, says the mix-up may have prevented people from voting for Marina candidates. If voters went to Salinas and cast a provisional ballot, they wouldn’t have been able to vote on the Marina City Council or Marina Coast Water District races. “The worst fear is that people were misdirected,” Pelot says. “The whole thing is very creepy to me.”
Poll watchers say they counted several people casting provisional ballots at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Salinas, but it’s unclear whether that was due to an influx of Marina voters. Koller says the Democratic Party will release a report on voting irregularities next month, but doesn’t expect to see any changes in election results.