Watching a precinct vote is like watching sausage being made. Once you do, you will never again trust the final product.
On election day, I was a nonpartisan observer at precinct #305100 Ruby Bridges Elem School. I was sent there because in prior elections, unusually large numbers of provisional ballots have been cast from this location.
When I first swung by, mid-afternoon, to scope it out, there were three federal election observers, all the way from Washington DC, sitting at a table in the back of the room.
I know this because before I could even introduce myself to the inspector, one of them came up to me and asked who I represented and what I was doing there. She was not wearing any ID, and when asked could not produce any, not even a business card. [I guess the Feds don't need no stinkin' badges].
But I did get their names: Doris Ling, Gilbert delaCruz, and Vincent Hoang. At least that’s who they said they were. Office of Personnel Management, Voting Rights Program, 1900 E St., NW, Rm 6484, Washington DC 20415, 885-4122.
I left but returned later at around 5:00 p.m. to watch the closing of the polls. By then, the Feds had left [for another precinct unknown.] But the fun was only beginning.
Unlike what I might have expected in the middle of an expensive planned single-family development like Bayport, and unlike other Alameda precincts, the torrent of voters which flowed through the doors during the next three hours was a socioethnoeconomic rainbow of humanity. The beauty of it was, everybody got to vote! No one was turned away! After all, no one has to show ID.
“I’m from Hayward..can I vote here?” SURE. San Leandro, too. Everyone gets an Alameda City ballot…just put it in a provisional envelope. At one point the Inspector stood up and made an announcement: “You know, if you don’t live here, the ballot measures you vote on will be different.” No one was deterred. Was it something the federal observers said to the poll workers?
The most frequent statement I heard from voters at the table was: “I haven’t registered yet/forgot to register. Can I still vote?” SURE. Here’s a voter registration form. Just fill it out after you vote and turn it in. At the end of the evening, when the scanner was opened up, there were voter registration Forms INSIDE the scanner which had been fed in. Spoiled ballots had also been fed thru the scanner.
Some Oakland absentee ballots were submitted, which is OK. But even voters from Madera and San Mateo County were allowed to drop off absentee ballots. Hey, just let the Alameda County Registrar of Voters sort ‘em out. The County has nothing better to do, right?
Too bad the Feds left before they could see everything described above.
As Batman [old TV series] is quoted as saying: “If you can’t trust the voters, who can you trust?”
– Concerned Alameda Voter
[editor note: The author of this letter is known to Action Alameda News, but we have withheld their name by request.]