Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

KPBS Midday Edition

Measure K Supporters Say Ballot Bleed-Through Could Affect Votes

Staffers sort ballots in California, Jan. 22, 2008.
Associated Press
Staffers sort ballots in California, Jan. 22, 2008.

Measure K Supporters Say Ballot Bleed-Through Could Affect Votes
Measure K Supporters Say Ballot Bleed-Through Could Affect Votes GUEST: Michael Vu, registrar of voters, San Diego County

Donald Trump's saying that the election is rigged and there is wife bread voter fraud. Independent studies say there is no widespread voter brought -- brought in the United States. How do they guard against that? We spoke with San Diego registrar of voters. You've been hearing that there is widespread voter fraud, what does that mean to you? The question is more along the lines of where, when, how. I don't believe that there is in my 20 years of experience. Any allegation of hacking or rigging of an election, we want to know about that. We need to know the specifics. In this case, we don't have the specifics. It is too broad for us to entertain where it is happening or how it is happening. I think we need to know a little bit more about the specifics before we can answer as an election efficient -- official. We go there seems to be the allegation that people that shouldn't be voting will be. How do you see to it that only eligible voters vote? What the person registers, they have to provide their drivers license number or Social Security number. That information is sent to the DMV for validation. If a person doesn't have one of those two forms that doesn't mean that they can't register to vote, it just means that when they go to the polling place they may have to show identification. It is help America vote act. When you register, we send them a voter identification card. There is a feedback. If there that's the card comes back to us, the voter can get back to us. If it comes back then we put that on inactive status. If you can't reach that person or that person doesn't vote in two elections, we can take them off the roles completely. Active voting itself, you must sign in at the polling place. Then of course you have to state the name and address when they go to a polling place. Reporter: what about having observers at polling places. To people just show up and say they are observing the process? Observers are allowed a polling -- inside a polling place. Our workers are trained to be respectful and they have the ability to come inside. They can have a a person or organized group in there. Observers should know that there are guidelines and rules associated with that. I keep saying that a polling place is the sanctuary for voters to cast their ballot in private without any disturbance or level of interment -- level of interference. It is a sanctuary for them to be able to cast their votes. In the same regard, observers need to abide by that. There's been a lot of rhetoric and the tone has been contentious but let me say that when election day hits and a 13 hour window occurs, this falls under the domain of the registrar of voters. The situation of disturbances will not be tolerated. We have 261 of our field service representatives assigned to precincts and going from polling place to polling place. This occurs every election to make sure that everyone is well-managed. Measure K says that there is a possible flow in the ballot. They say if voters use a felt tip pen to vote yes, then that boat could bleed through the ballot and mark the no bubble for measure J. You -- they say that you have marked this as an issue, is that true? It is. Every ballot is reviewed. Voters are going to mark their ballot in a number of different ways. We have to determine whether or not the votes cast art want to be captured by our scanners. We have situations where voters check Mark the bubble as opposed to fill it in. This is one of those types of situations. Voters should know that we have annexed the quality control process. We don't just open a ballot and scan it. There is a 30 day [ Inaudible ]. To respond to the public as the proponents of any measure, we will look at every ballot to accurately count the situation where a voter has perhaps used a heavy weight marker. As I say that, voters should be advised to use the instruction -- read the instruction and use a ballpoint pen. If they used a heavy marker that has bled through, you can spoil that ballot. Give us a call and we will suspend that women give you a new one. Reporter: could this delay vote returns? I don't leave so. As I said we have annexed then this quality control process in place. This is just one of those situations. We will be extra causes and now that's what the public to know that we review every ballot carefully. These are printed or 90 pound paper. Those -- voters, we use specific types of pens. They are archival pens. Ballpoint pens as well. Reporter: the markers that people get at the voting booth will not go through? That is correct. Reporter: the ballot is extra long this year. To back and front pages. Are you preparing for longer lines at the polls? We are. We have asked voters to consider voting by mail this election. I know a lot of people like to go to their polling place. If you hesitated, I would advise that this is an election to cast a mail ballot. We anticipate long lines at the polls because it will take longer to cast all the votes that will be on your ballot. We have 184 contests throughout the county. We have 52 measures and statewide propositions. It is a long ballot. We have never had a two-part ballot. It will take longer for individuals to cast their ballot inside the voting booth. We are asking voters to remark the sample ballot that we sent out. When you get your official ballot you can transfer those votes on to the official valid. I've been speaking with San Diego registrar of voters. What a new poll is showing about public support for California's state propositions

Measure K Supporters Say Ballot Bleed-Through Could Affect Votes
The registrar of voters said the pens at polling places do not bleed through, and voters can always safely mark their ballot with a ballpoint pen. According to him, every single ballot is reviewed as part of the quality control process.

Ink used on some absentee ballots in San Diego could bleed through the paper and record a "no" vote on a controversial proposition, supporters of Measure K announced Wednesday.

They said that on some ballots, the bubble that voters would fill in to record a "yes" vote on Measure E lines up on the opposite side of the paper with the "no" bubble for Measure K.


RELATED: From A To N: A Breakdown Of The Measures On San Diego’s November Ballot

Supporters of Measure K said at a news conference that the problem could result in inadvertent "no" votes, or for choices to not be recorded, on their proposition. They said not to fill in the ballot with felt-tip pens.

Measure K would, if passed, require automatic November runoff elections for city of San Diego offices between the top vote-getters in the primary election.

Right now, if a candidate tops 50 percent in the primary, that person is elected and a runoff is not required. Supporters contend that it would be better to make final decisions on mayor, city attorney and City Council in the general election, when many more people cast ballots.

Opponents say it would be unfair for candidates who win by overwhelming margins in the primary election to run again a few months later, and that the measure would raise election costs.


Measure E, by contrast, is a non-controversial proposition that would amend the City Charter — the city's primary governing document — to set up provisions for removing wayward officials. The proposal grew out of then-Mayor Bob Filner's scandals three years ago.

"Today, we are asking that the Registrar of Voters communicate with voters in the city of San Diego alerting them to this problem, and recommending the use of appropriate pens on the ballot," City Council President Sherri Lightner said. "Both Measure E and Measure K are extremely important measures that voters in the city of San Diego have the opportunity to vote on this November."

County Registrar Michael Vu told KPBS News the pens at polling places do not bleed through, and voters can always safely mark their ballot with a ballpoint pen.

"And if they find themselves having used a heavy marker that has bled through, if you're a mail ballot voter give us a call, and we'd be more than happy to suspend that ballot and reissue you a new one," Vu said.

According to him, every single ballot is reviewed as part of the normal quality control process.

Lori Shellenberger, voting rights director of the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego, said voters should make sure to check their mail-in ballots before returning them.

Ballots differ around the city, depending on whether a given area has a City Council election or votes in special districts. Voting materials are also printed in different languages.