Poll workers struggling with a new electronic voting system in last week's election gave thousands of Orange County voters the wrong ballots, according to a Times analysis of election records. In 21 precincts where the problem was most acute, there were more ballots cast than registered voters.
Wide margins in most races seem likely to spare the county the need for a costly revote. But the problems, which county officials have blamed on insufficient training for poll workers, are a strong indication of the pitfalls facing officials as they try to bring new election technology online statewide.
“The principal of democracy is every vote should count. That's why we need a better election system,” said Henry Brady, a political science professor at UC Berkeley and an expert on voting systems.
At polling places where the problem was most apparent because of turnouts exceeding 100%, an estimated 1,500 voters cast the wrong ballots, according to the Times' analysis of official county election data. Tallies at an additional 55 polling places with turnouts more than double the county average of 37% suggest at least 5,500 voters had their ballots tabulated for the wrong precincts.
Problems occurred in races throughout the county — including five out of six congressional races, four of five state Senate contests, and five of the nine Assembly races that are decided in whole, or in part, by Orange County voters. [Privacy Digest]