Monterey County Grand Jury Makes Recs on Elections Department
October 26, 2012
While jurisdictions around the country are fighting over whether voters should be forced to show identification at the polls, a new report shows claims of "rampant" voter fraud are unfounded in Monterey County.
The Monterey County Elections Department has upheld the integrity of recent elections, and made "strong efforts" to correctly count and process ballots, according to an interim report on the department released Oct. 26 by the Monterey County Civil Grand Jury.
The report comes amid a nationwide debate over whether photo IDs are necessary to prevent voter fraud. As many as 35 states have passed or are considering passing laws that require photo ID or proof of citizenship, the report states.
California Assemblyman Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, introduced a version of such law, AB663, in February 2011; it died in committee. The bill would require a voter to show photo ID before receiving a ballot.
The grand jury began its investigation after learning that in 2010, an absentee ballot was sent to a dead voter, and in the June 2012 primary two ballots were sent to a person who had changed her marital status and name.
The "minuscule numbers" of proven voter fraud between 1994 and 2010 indicate the elections department's current safeguard procedures are "more than adequate," the grand jury reported after the investigation.
But the grand jury recommended better designed, more user-friendly ballots and a more reliable tabulating machine. Almost 14 percent of ballots in the June primaries were damaged or unreadable, primarily because of the voter's error. The elections department had to manually duplicate those ballots, costing time and resources.
The elections department also faces insufficient space for storage and vote counting during election time, the report said.
And, despite the elections departments' efforts to verify voter rolls, 6.6 percent of eligible voters didn't update their personal information—like address or name change—and could disenfranchise themselves, the grand jury reported.
The grand jury recommends a voter education campaign to teach voters how to vote by mail or use the ballot, and to remind voters to update changes with the elections department.