Kill the Messenger: California Elections Rock!

After a box was destroyed at Baldwin Park LIbrary in 2020, the L.A. County registrar said it empties boxes more often.

In an early musing, Circling the News questioned why it takes so long for California to have election results – it’s now Sunday, November 13, six days after the election and Los Angeles County is still counting, readers were quick to respond:

One wrote: “Your snarky comments comparing the speed of election results in Florida and California are unfortunate.  Neither De Santis nor Newsom is responsible for the process.  Florida Law requires mail-in ballots to be received by 7pm of Election Day, requiring early mailing (the P.O. Recommends 7 days).  California law requires that the ballots must be postmarked by Election Day.  Thus, the last of the hundreds of thousands of Californians who wait until near deadline (perhaps to be able to be apprised of late-breaking events before voting) might not have their ballots read until the 7-days-after-election-day deadline.  As a journalist(?), you should not allow your political biases to trample the facts.”

Another wrote: “On the continuum of quicker with more suppression versus more inclusive but take more time, why wouldn’t we want more votes to count?  Why do we need to know the results on election night?

“Florida has much more limited mail voting, no matter when it is mailed it does not count unless it arrives by election day, and they limit drop boxes. Our California system of maximizing participation should be highly preferred. Garcetti’s extended term does not end until the first of the year, over 7 weeks from election day.  I don’t see a big deal to wait a few days for the result if it allows for more participation.  Waiting does not have an impact on when the new mayor takes charge.”

Another reader, who has worked the polls wrote: “This article explains in detail about the ballot curing process taking place in Nevada, as of today 11/10. https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/as-margins-tighten-in-nevada-elections-advocates-look-to-signature-curing-for-edgeSimilar process is happening in California. Both states have razor-thin margins in a few races, forcing states to cure ballots, a process which usually isn’t necessary. These uncounted ballots can change the outcome of some very close races.

This link shows a list of states with signature cure processes:

https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/vopp-table-15-states-that-permit-voters-to-correct-signature-discrepancies.aspx

Volunteers are now being recruited to contact voters in Nevada & California who submitted ballots that need to be cured. I just received a call to volunteer a few minutes ago. I’m done with my elections work for LA County Registrar Recorder, now I’m going to start calling for cured ballots.”

Another reader wrote: “I read CTN daily, and I am finding myself more and more concerned with the politicization. I have never written back before, but your comment about the speed of the counting of election ballots in Florida versus California was, in my view, disconcerting. It is a complex situation, and yet you seem to place the blame of the entire ‘problem’ in California, and the supposed ‘success’ in Florida, at the feet of the Governors. It is rare that the many, very nuanced, problems that exist in this country can be blamed on, or fixed by, one person.”

Another wrote: “How do you suggest California count votes on ballots that haven’t arrived yet? Under California law, absentee ballots are valid if they are postmarked by Election Day and received within 7 days AFTER Election Day. In your email newsletter you made a bizarre, fact-free comparison to Florida. In Florida, absentee ballots must be received ON Election Day to be counted. I guess this is why you’re only roughly “circling” the news? Since you are a former professional journalist, I would expect you to research the relevant facts and apply rational exposition rather than relying so much on your personal biases.”

Another resident wrote “FYI, France with nearly 70 million people manages to count and publish the final results before the morning after the election day.”

 

(Editor’s note: Do people remember the “hanging chads,” in Florida during the 2000 presidential race between George Bush and Al Gore? In a 2008 US News story (“Hanging Chads: As the Florida Recount Implodes, the Supreme Court Decides Bush v. Gore”) that “For 36 days, who won the White House was in limbo, as Bush and Gore were separated by a razor-thin margin, complicated by voting difficulties in Florida and the complexities of election law.  . . .Overnight, concerns about voting irregularities emerged in places like Palm Beach County, where a punch-card ballot with a format that was easily misread resulted in many disqualified votes.

“Intent. Later on November 9, Gore’s team demanded a manual recount in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Volusia counties. News outlets carried images of Florida election officials staring at hanging, dimpled, and pregnant chads on Florida’s punch-card ballots, trying to “discern the intent” of the voters. Bush’s lawyers argued to block the recounts; several more attempts to stop, or protect, the recounts and ballot certifications also were filed. On November 24, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Bush’s appeal of a Florida high court ruling that allowed hand recounts to proceed.

“The legal wrangling only intensified. On November 26, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who doubled as state campaign cochair for Bush, certified voting results that gave Bush a 537-vote lead. Gore’s team won a court hearing to challenge those totals. On December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the Florida Supreme Court had overstepped its authority in managing recount issues. On December 8, Florida’s high court upheld the manual recount. The next day, Bush successfully appealed for a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the recount. Bush’s team argued that the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for all citizens disqualified a manual recount because Florida’s counties had followed differing vote-counting procedures. The Gore team demanded that every vote be counted. On December 12, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 vote, stopped the Florida recount.”

Florida changed their voting process after that fiasco.

CTN is old fashioned and feels that sending ballots to every household is a mistake. This year, my house in Pacific Palisades received ballots for two people who no longer live here and haven’t for more than a year.

If one cares enough about voting, one can easily obtain absentee ballots—I have done that on many occasions.

Now that vote centers are open prior to elections and not just the day of, it also makes less sense to mass mail, because there are options.

In past years, I worked in several elections in Pacific Palisades – at the Calvary Church – when Los Angeles elections were still held in numerous locations – and we never turned away a voter.

Elections come under state jurisdiction, which is why there are so many variations across the United States—and because I’ve lived in different locations–I’ve voted in South Dakota, New York, New Jersey and California—I’ve seen the differences. Many feel that elections should be determined by national election laws, but I feel that they should stay with the state. Given that states are in control of elections and the governor is the head of the state CTN doesn’t think its unreasonable for Governor Gavin Newsom to step up and provide direction.

In the meantime: here’s another “snarky” comment. Maybe California could call it election month, that way those of us who would like faster results – instead of having election night parties, could have election month parties.

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5 Responses to Kill the Messenger: California Elections Rock!

  1. Dana Dalton says:

    I read this from Nextdoor and I have to agree with this person. I thought you might like to read it. And if you know anyone who works with the homeless maybe send them down to Sawtelle and Santa Monica Blvd. because that is a tragedy.

    Santa Monica, CA
    I immigrated to the US from Africa in 1998
    and have lived and worked in Santa
    Monica since then. What has gotten this
    state and city into trouble is exactly what I
    fled 25 years ago – single party
    governance. In Africa single party
    governance stems from ethnic tribalism
    no matter how badly governments rule
    they are repeatedly re-elected due to
    ethnic majorities and allegiances – thus
    corruption gets worse and worse. In CA we
    have political tribalism – thus no matter
    how badly the party in power governs we
    pledge to them our eternal support and
    thus things have gotten worse and worse.
    The voters of CA and LA have forgotten
    about checks and balances. The rejection
    of checks and balances arises from
    identity politics
    – pick your tribe and never
    veer from that lane. Boris Johnson lost his
    job because he held a party in 10 Downing
    Street during Covid lockdown. Newsom
    did the same thing and was rewarded by
    the voters with an 18 percentage point
    lead. Britain does not have extreme
    political tribalism or extreme identity
    politics. LA has had a democrat mayor for
    21 years and look what has happened to this town.

  2. Helen Meisel says:

    “CTN is old fashioned and feels that sending ballots to every household is a mistake. This year, my house in Pacific Palisades received ballots for two people who no longer live here and haven’t for more than a year.”

    If your newsletter is truly news, then how you “feel” is irrelevant. Personally, I feel it is a great idea to have my ballot automatically sent to me, but I don’t publish a newsletter.
    In addition, it is very simple to eliminate ballots sent to non-residents in your household. If you know how to request a ballot by mail, you certainly can figure out how to send back the form to advise that the person is no longer living in your household.

  3. Diane Elder says:

    We have come to a point where daring to ask a legitimate question, if it’s response may prove uncomfortable for some, is enough to get one labeled “biased”, “political”, or worse. Interestingly, I’ve only come across this reaction among those of a certain, and very political, persuasion. It seems that some questions must simply never be asked, and you are expected to know which those are.

  4. Sue says:

    Helen,

    You assume that we didn’t let the authorities know that the people weren’t living here anymore–we did and we still received ballots. CTN has contacted the registrar several times trying to set up a tour, CTN was promised an October tour, but never received it. CTN wants to know how registered voters are added or removed from the rolls. Does social security automatically let the registrar know if someone is deceased? How long does it take to removed those names from the rolls?

    The second problem that readers have is understanding the difference between opinion pieces and news because so many publications blur the lines. Musings contain opinions–the news stories should not. Editorials and Viewpoints are also opinions.

    sue

  5. Mary Petersen says:

    My how times do change. We used to have an Election Day (i.e., 1) and qualified voters who were not going to be able to vote at their local precinct could request a mail-in ballot. Votes were counted and tallied that same day/evening and results were available by the next day, unless there were some unusually tight races and/or glitches. I don’t believe in disenfranchising anybody, but I fail to see why early voting is necessary. Campaigns are already too long and too expensive, taking elected officials who are running for reelection away from the duties they were elected to perform and for which they are being paid.

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