OC election officials give look into vote-counting process, address conspiracy theories

Rob McMillan Image
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
OC election officials provide look into vote-counting process
The California primary election is a week away. Orange County county are offering a look into how the vote-counting system is set up to stop fraud.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- The California primary election is a week away and officials in Orange County are offering a look into how vote-by-mail ballots are received and counted, and how the system is set up to minimize potential fraud.

The Orange County Registrar of Voters hopes it shows public that elections in the county are conducted in a secure manner in which election results are legitimate.

"This is our democracy," said Bob Page, the county's Registrar of Voters. "It's important to protect that. So we want to be fully transparent on what we do and will always answer questions about it."

During a tour of the ballot-processing facility in Santa Ana, officials addressed questions about conspiracy theories related to voter fraud.

"There will always be those who don't believe. We know that," said California Secretary of State Shirley Weber. "There will always be naysayers. But we have yet to find a better system that says every person gets one vote and that vote counts."

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said that during his time in office, there are on average 10 to 15 reports of potential voter fraud that his team investigates after each election. He said most of those complaints involve allegations that people have voted more than once.

But, he said, there has never been enough evidence to support an allegation that a person voted twice intentionally.

"I have not prosecuted one of those cases where somebody voted twice," said Spitzer, who said in most cases, after their investigation is completed, it was determined that the voter acted accidentally.

Here's a look at LA County's new ballot processing center

The ballot-processing center will tally the majority of the votes cast by the 5.6 million registered voters in Los Angeles County.

"Maybe they were assisted by a caregiver and they they thought they filled out the ballot, they turned one in and then they actually showed up on Election Day."

To be clear, Page said in none of those cases were multiple votes actually counted.

"For each voter, you can only vote once. So, the first ballot (we get) back from the voter is going to be the one that we count."

Page said that each envelope for a mail-in ballot has a unique bar code that is scanned before the envelope is opened, to ensure that no one votes more than once. If multiple envelopes connected to the same voter are received, only the first one counts.

Page also said that every envelope containing a ballot must also have a valid signature, and every envelope is checked to make sure the signature matches the one currently on file.

"The staff will look at the most recent signature on file by the voter in the registration record and look for similarities between the signatures. If they believe there's a significant enough difference between the two, then that ballot envelope will be compared by two other members of our team," he said.

Page said only if those three staff members agree that the signature does not match will the signature be refused. If that happens, the voter will be contacted by his office for an explanation.