Ballot Duplication, Here We Come

So in addition to all of the other problems in California with paper ballots, it sounds like, in several places including Riverside, if you cast a paper ballot and marked too dark, YOUR ballot won’t get counted but the ballot that is being cast for you by the duplicating board will. Election officials say don’t sweat it: They’ve got a backup plan to make sure every vote counts.

While the machines count thin lines best, any ballot that isn’t counted electronically goes into an “out stack” and is checked by hand, Riverside County Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore said. If the voter’s “intention is clear” and the ballot was kicked out of the counting machine because the line was too thick, the Registrar’s Office has a “duplicating board” that will fill in another ballot with thin lines for the voter and send it to be counted, Dunmore said.

That should be relief to the many voters who expressed concerns to The Desert Sun that their votes might not be valid. “Your natural tendency is to make sure it is dark and clear,” said Julie Lawrence of Desert Hot Springs.

Just before marking her ballot, her husband pointed out the thin-line-only rule on the ballot. “I think mine were within the requirements,” she said. “We assumed we knew how to mark a paper ballot. Let’s hope it was little more forgiving than they made it sound.”

Tuesday was the first election in almost eight years in which Riverside County only used paper ballots. Riverside and 20 other California counties were forced to set aside the electronic voting machines when Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified the them in August. The ballots showed the ends of an arrow next to each choice. The ballots instructed voters to draw a thin line – no thick lines or double markings – to complete the arrow and indicate their choice.