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SD Registrar of Voters meets with Citizens' Oversight

Citizens Oversight (2008-11-25) Raymond Lutz

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After this video, the Registrar of Voters Deborah Seilers declined to allow us to film any further meetings, so we resorted to written interaction.

Transcript of meeting with Registrar of Voters, 2008-11-25

Seiler: OK, so ... go over the election results.

Schuchman: I was hoping...

Seiler: they should be on line. Hit refresh.

Lutz: It is not updating as rapidly, not like earlier elections when it updates every day.

Seiler: We deliver the data every day, I mean we're now doing it every day. There was a week there when we didn't, yeah. And then we just decided, we'll do it every day. We do hourly updates and from there on out we just shoot from the hip.

It should be on the web site.

The closest contest was Chula Vista, which is now 66 votes apart, which isn't very much. ... It was six votes. It has now spread to 66. even if they do a recount, which I'm talking about umm unlikely, yeah. But, we're still counting votes, we're still getting the provisionals in.

Magellenez: How may are left.

Seiler: I don't know, about 9,000. There's probably about a couple of thousand still. and we're madly trying to get them into the count.

I understand you want to talk about the 1% manual tally.

Lutz: so we have (for the camera)

Seiler: Hi I'm Deborah Seiler, Registrar of Voters.

Lutz: Raymond Lutz

Ponikteras: Linda Ponikteras, Citizen.

Sal Magellenez: Sal Magellenez, Citizen.

Schuchman: Brina Rae Schuchman, True Vote San Diego

Lutz: Here's my card.

Seiler: Okay.

Lutz: I have this document here that I'm hoping that we can discuss. I could not find a published procedure for what you do.

Seiler: I have a copy of it here. I'm sure I passed this out...

Lutz: Okay, this is just the 1% tally. Yeah, I've seen this part.

Seiler: Do you want a copy of that?

Lutz: Yes, actually, that would help.

(Seiler exits the room). (Battery Failure, lost about 10 minutes of the meeting.)

Seiler: We do that selection and write that up in the report. It was not our staff doing the ping-pong ball draw

Schuchman: Just random folks you asked to come in?

Seiler: Just someone off the street. We would ask counters, someone in another department

Lutz: I do have one more question about this that came out in our meeting the other day. This is actually from the other... relates to what is done at other times. The number of ballots that is expected in the 1% tally procedure, was there some other count that was done prior to this that is not the scanner count of ballots that went through the scanner? I understand that there is the count that comes from the precinct poll workers, and there is a count because they are run through the scanner. Are they counted at any other time and any other way?

Seiler: Let me try to understand you properly here. When, on election night, when the poll workers close up the polls, they count the number of ballots and they record that in the roster. (She means the Ballot Statement).

Lutz: How do they count them?

Seiler: By hand, one, two, three.

Lutz: Okay, the volunteers count them?

Seiler: they're counting the number of ballots by hand, they pull them out and counting them.

Lutz: At the polls?

Seiler: and they are also balancing that with the unused. In other words, what they are doing is they are saying, how many ballots was I issued, how many are unused, they count the number of unused ballots.

Poniktera: For balancing, right.

Seiler: Yes, for balancing.

Lutz: Let's go back to that because before we try to answer my question we'll need to understand this...(looking at his flow chart). In this precinct vote count procedure, blank ballots are provided to each polling place. Who provides them and how many?

Seiler: We provide them, we do several things. We have a chain of custody...

Lutz: Who does it?

Seiler: My staff. We get all of the precinct ballots. We have staff that go through for days, weeks, they go through every package of those precint ballots to make sure that they are padded correctly. They are supposed to have their sequence numbers, and they're supposed to have a specific number of ballots.

And you know it is a printing operation, we have a very good printer, but once in a while we'll have 49 or maybe it has 51, you know someone ... so we try to resolve all those discrepancies at the printer so we have a totally accurate count of the number of ballots that we have. Because that would...

And then what we do is we lay out in the chain of custody document the sequence numbers.

Lutz: Do you have that document here?

Seiler: No I don't.

(Lutz prepares a request for the document.)

Seiler: So we provide a document to the poll worker that lists how many ballots we believe that we have packaged and sent to them, and that would be the number for English, Spanish, Filipino, Vietnamese.

Lutz: How do you determine now many to send?

Seiler: Well, we develop an allocation list spreadsheet...

Lutz: Is it equal to, greater than, less than?

Seiler: We have a spreadsheet that we use.

Lutz: What is it, is there a name of that spreadsheet?

Seiler: Ask for the ballot order spreadsheet. And we review that because we had a massive number of new voter registrations. We actually went through and for example UCSD, we looked at a precinct in UCSD that had double the number of registrations and we actually added an adjunct precinct, one of the college campus precincts. When we started out, we were doing the ballot order, (hard to hear...)

Lutz: So is there a policy...

Seiler: What we do is we looked at, we try to count how many ballots... for us a wasted ballot order is a waste of money, we pay $0.28 a piece for them, the mail ballots anyway. So we don't want to "over order", you know they are heavy ... we want to zero-in. We don't want to run short because last thing we want to do is to run short of ballots, that's the last thing we want to do. So then, 15 days before the election, we actually went and reviewed that spreadsheet and we said, where is the big growth, where are we seeing, because naturally the level of increase of voter registratin is not uniform across the county. I mean it is all raised up, but there are pockets, individual precincts so we went in and looked at individual precincts to try to determine where they increased

Poniktera: You would not go out and print more then?

Seiler: Oh yes, absolutely. We are in constant contact with our print vendor. And we did I don't have the details but we had supplemental ballot orders.

Lutz: the voter walks in, and there is a sign-in register. What do call that?

Seiler: The Roster

Lutz: The Roster, Okay. And First you provide the roster to the polling place, right?

Seiler: Yes.

Lutz: That does not have the people who have already voted by mail, is that true?

Seiler: It has an "M" next to the name of those voters. It was NA and not an M.

Lutz: Do you designate if the mail-in ballot has been received yet?

Seiler: No, we do not designate if it has been already received.

Lutz: So if I vote in additional to mailing it in? then you have to deal with that later?

Seiler: No. If there is an "M" next to that person's name in the roster, that person is supposed to vote a provisional.

Lutz: Does that mean they have already voted?

Seiler: No. We have no way of knowing. We have no way of knowing. Those ballots are coming in through the mail, people drop them off.

Lutz: You've received some of them.

Seiler: Oh sure.

Lutz: You would know those.

Seiler: Yeah, but we can't get that into the roster. There's really not a good way, and the thing is we don't distinguish the way we treat that voter. Whether the ballot comes back or not, you know there still is the possibility that the ballot is in the mail, in our office, etc. So we just put an "M" next to their name. They come in, and they have that mail ballot to surrender, they can surrender that and then they can get a poll ballot.

But if they can't surrender the mail ballot, then they vote with a provisional ballot, and we mark on the provisional envelope the fact that they are a mail-in voter. Then all we do is make sure that that mail ballot does not come in. That protects against double voting.

Lutz: Are you using the vote-by-mail type envelope for provisional voters?

Seiler: No, it is a different envelope. The provisional envelope is a peach colored envelope while the absentee envelopes are several colors based on whether they can be returned by the mail, lavender in the last 7 days.

Lutz: Poll worker authenticates the voter and they sign in the roster.

Seiler: They don't ID the voter.

Lutz: They check the name.

Seiler: They check the name, they don't check anything. You walk in and you say you say "I'm Ray Lutz" and I live at XYZ street, then they find your name on the roster.

Lutz: Yes, but if they are not on the roster, they would not be able to vote.

Seiler: Correct, but they would vote with a provisional ballot.

Poniktera: Sometimes you call in to the registrar to get confirmation and you say to go ahead and let them vote, write them in?

Seiler: In the case that they are not on the roster, they vote provisionally. The only thing they might try to do is say they might try to verify there are so many people that go to the polls, and we are very lean with our dept. in San Diego County. I've gotten reports from that are anecdotal that say you don't vote here. We don't do that we say, where are you registered to vote, and maybe they will try to say "You should be at that precinct over there (pointing)" Try to direct them to the correct precinct.

We do that for a couple of reasons. One, because if they go to their correct precinct, they are sure to vote on all the races that are on their specific ballot, and it also saves us a lot of office time. Those provisional ballots take time to process...

Lutz: They record that the voter received the ballot somehow, right?

Seiler: Well, they are supposed to sign the roster. When the voter comes in, they are supposed to sign the roster. If they are voting provisionally, they're supposed to sign the peach roster.

Magellenez: and the envelope.

Seiler: and the envelope.

Lutz: do they try to keep a balance of how many ballots have been handed out as they are going?

Seiler: No, they do that at the end. That is the reconcillation process.

Magellenez: Do you have problems with people taking ballots to different precincts?

Seiler: Sometimes they might, yeah. Sometimes, they might, you know. If the voter gets a ballot and they ealk out of the polls with it, that can happen.

Schuchman: Is there a comparison of the signature with the one that was originally used on the voter registration form?

Seiler: No, we don't verify the signatures on the roster with the signatures on the voter registration form, as a routine matter.

Magellenez: You said routine, would they ever be checked?

Seiler: If there was some sort of allegation or something. There would have to be a pretty serious allegation, and then we might, but we don't check them that way. We do check every single provisional and we do check every signature on a mail ballot.

Lutz: If they vote with a provisional ballot, the identity of the voter must be maintained.

Seiler: We get their drivers license information, their name, their address.

Magellenez: That's on the envelope and not on the ballot inside?

Seiler: Oh no.

Lutz: It's on the peach envelope. Is there a list maintained by the poll worker of the provisional ballots.

Seiler: Yes. They have the peach roster.

Lutz: I guess I need to get all the poll worker information.

Seiler: I gave you a copy of the poll worker manual, it is on line (We never found this manual.)

Schuchman: You just want the instructions given to the pollworker, right?

Lutz: Exactly. We'll have a lot less questions that way.

Poniktera: Before they start at the poll, do they count all the ballots they are issued?

Seiler: Yes. This is what I was explaining this process. After our people in the warehouse go through and make sure they are padded properly and sequence numbers all all correct, then they prepare the chain of custody document. What we tell the poll workers is "go home, check those" and verify that they have the proper quantity and the proper sequence numbers. So yes, they are supposed to, they are supposed to.

Poniktera: Your point is that you train to a certain procedure and policy and what they do out in the field, you can't monitor everything. I would be curious to know -- that particular step is pretty important.

Seiler: it is, Sure.

Magellenez: I was just in the I guess issues area, there was a call that came in where a person was missing a packet of ballots. Basically, when he was counting them in the morning, he'd say "Okay, here's packet and it goes from 2000 to 2050, the next one from 2051 to 2100 but the 2100 to 2150 was missing. (more...) what is the procedure for that.

Seiler: We would either make a note of it, I don't know the specifics, so this is a generality...

Magellenez: right.

Seiler: But we would do one of two things. one, if they were missing ballots such that we though they would be short, then we would get some supplemental ballots out to them. And we did have some. We did have supplemental ballot that were here that needed to go out. People are constantly watching this. We could either send ballots out or just monitor the situation to let the troubleshooter know we might do a dispatch or we might not depending on the situation. We would monitor that situation.

Schuchman: would there be an investigation.

Magellenez: Yeah, that's the second part of my question.

Seiler: well, sometimes we, generally speaking, the pollworkers start to panick if we're their, they just don't like that.

Poniktera: Would there be a resolution

Seiler: We would resolve it, you know.

Magellenez: You're saying anyone could vote those ballots?

Seiler: Oh no. Yeah, we'd look into that.

(TO 19:39)


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Title SD Registrar of Voters meets with Citizens' Oversight
Publisher Citizens Oversight
Author Raymond Lutz
Pub Date 2008-11-25
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Note San Diego County Canvass Procedure Discuss 1% Manual tally and other questions about elections processing
Keywords Election Integrity
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Topic revision: r6 - 2013-12-26, RaymondLutz

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