Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Update on PFP primary trouble

From: http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com

Earlier this month, IPR noted the reports of Peace and Freedom Party voters being given the incorrect ballots during the June 3rd California statewide primary. Since then, Alameda County’s registrar Dave Macdonald has offered an explanation:

He explained that there are two lists that poll workers use, a “roster index”—a master list—and a street-level list. Peace and Freedom Party members were identified on the street-level list as “non partisan,” which means they would be given general ballots, allowing them to vote only on state-wide propositions.

Macdonald said the problem was due to “our printer that made a mistake.”

Macdonald also downplayed concerns about disenfranchisement of PFP members and argued that County officials swiftly handled the situation once it came to light:

Macdonald said that if voters challenged their status, poll workers were trained to give them a provisional ballot on which they could vote as Peace and Freedom Party members.

“If there’s any concern at all, people are allowed to vote provisionally,” he said, adding, “I feel confident that our poll workers did it right.”

Moreover, Macdonald said that as soon as the county office was alerted to the problem “we notified the coordinators to make sure [poll workers] were not using the street index” to determine which ballot a voter should receive.

California Peace and Freedom chair Debra Reiger commented on the issue more fully to The Daily Californian

[Reiger] said that some party members insisted on completing provisional ballots and called in to complain about the proceedings.

“Those who didn’t know better probably voted on non-partisan ballots and only on state propositions,” she said.

Party members said they are worried that this may put their August presidential nomination convention at stake, and are currently filing a complaint with the secretary of state’s office.

…and had some harsh words as to the motivation (or lack thereof) behind the mix-up:

“It was not a deliberate attempt, just a careless disregard for third parties and small parties, and the care was not taken to make sure parties other than Republican or Democrat were represented,” [Reiger] said.

Ballot Access News has also picked up on the story, and provides some insight into the stakes of the primary’s outcome:

Since it is so difficult for an independent to get on the California ballot, the PFP nomination is of great value. Ralph Nader, Gloria La Riva (Party for Socialism and Liberation nominee), and Brian Moore (Socialist Party nominee) would all be greatly advantaged if they could receive the PFP nomination.

The winning nominee must receive a majority of the vote at the convention. Delegates are the members of the state central committee. County central committee members are automatically members of the state central committee. They were elected at the June 3 primary. Not all the absentee or provisional ballots have been counted yet, and some counties haven’t counted write-in votes. Some of the contested races for PFP county central committee are still extremely close; sometimes one vote separates winners from losers.

One commenter on BAN has provided a running tally of the current central committee standings, compiled from the PFP’s published list of candidates and the slates listed on Gloria La Riva and Ralph Nader’s websites. However, with races as tight as they are and the ongoing concern over the ballot mix-up, any preliminary figures should be considered provisional at best.

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