Carl DeMaio’s new Transparency Foundation hosted a “California Election Integrity Volunteer Orientation” on Tuesday via Zoom.
But a heckler in the chat room sought to undercut one of the session’s key asks — vote early via mail ballot (being sent to all voters).
An attendee named Alan Curry repeatedly contradicted presenter Dylan Martin, a DeMaio protege with a history of college Republican leadership.
“We will never win if we keep backing mail ballots,” Curry wrote during the 48-minute webinar, echoing a refrain by former President Trump.
Radio talker DeMaio, the former San Diego councilman and congressional candidate, has been criticized for fundraising off allegations of fraud in the 2021 California recall election.
However, Tuesday’s webinar, which depicted itself as a nonpartisan event, mainly aligned with advice from county and state election officials via what Martin called the SAFE voting method.
- Send in your mail ballot on Day 1.
- Audit your ballot by tracking its being received and counted.
- Fix any problems with your ballot not being counted.
- Examine and monitor ballot counting as a volunteer.
But Martin, a UC San Diego alumnus with a history of donating to the Republican Party, didn’t win over kibitzer Curry, who shares a name with a speaker at SANDAG and Chula Vista council meetings and is said to have closed four restaurants amid the pandemic.
Martin said long lines on Election Day at county voting centers “will absolutely suppress the vote” in California. “We could use crucial votes for our reform-minded voters.”
Curry responded: “No Dillion (sic) NEVER A LINE all the years I vote IN PERSON. … NO POLL WORKER CAN TOUCH YOUR IN PERSON VOTE VS ALL MAIL BALLOTS GET OPENED BY POLL WORKERS.”
Martin noted that early voters won’t be bothered by election phone calls, texts and mailers after their ballots are recorded.
San Diego County Registrar of Voters Cynthia Paes declined to comment on the webinar, but responded to some issues raised.
She said her office can deploy extra staff and equipment to any location with a heavier turnout.
“We always plan for these types of situations,” Paes said via email. “In San Diego County, we will have 39 vote centers across the county open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily starting on Saturday, Oct. 29. Then on Saturday, Nov. 5 we will have over 200 vote centers open daily across the county from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 8 when the voting hours change to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.”
Martin encouraged volunteer election monitors to take notes (since mobile phones are barred) and report anything “suspicious” to ProblemBallots.com.
Paes prefers that voters report any problems or concerns to her office.
“We are not familiar with the site you referenced,” she said of ProblemBallots.com, which is backed by the controversial Cloudflare technology and security company.
Martin also said torn or smudged ballots that can’t be read by scanner machines have to be “perfected” — redone by hand.
“It’s a common practice if a machine cannot read the ballot,” he said. “It’s happened for many years.”
Paes confirmed the process but said only 5,816 ballots cast in the June 2022 primary required duplication — of more than 674,000 cast (a rate under 1%).
“When election workers are sorting ballots for tabulation, they are trained to look for any torn or damaged ballots that will not be readable by the ballot tabulation scanners,” she said. “These ballots are set aside to be remade.”
She said each “remake team” consists of two election workers under the direction of a supervisor.
“All votes on the original voted ballot are duplicated onto a new official ballot to reflect the voter’s selections,” she said. “One person does the duplicating, the other verifies the work. The workers switch positions and again verify the remade ballot matches the original.”
Paes said the remade ballot is printed and both workers initial the original ballot, log sheet and the remade ballot.
“This is done so the original can be easily pulled during the canvas or during a recount,” she said. “The remade ballot is then sent to tabulation where it is scanned into the count. This is a transparent process and is open to public observation.”
Martin and DeMaio didn’t respond to requests for comment on critic Curry or other issues raised in the webinar. (Martin addressed questions in Chat but ignored Curry.)
But Joe Kocurek, a spokesman for the state Secretary of State’s Office, stressed that all California’s election officials, including local ones, “are committed to delivering a process that is not only safe and secure, but also fair, accurate and accessible.”
“In California, the process is also transparent — we encourage voters to observe the election processes in action,” he said. “This transparency is throughout the election process beginning with pre-election logic and accuracy testing through the tabulation of ballots. Or even better, we encourage voters to volunteer to serve as a poll worker to ensure local officials have the support they need to continue to make California’s elections great.”
Kocurek also commented on ballots being “perfected.”
“With respect to ballot duplication, California Elections code sections 14287, 15208 and 15210 require that a ballot that is torn, bent, has personal identifying information or is otherwise defective must be corrected by being duplicated, clearly labeled ‘duplicate’ and both the original ballot and duplicated ballot must be marked with serialized numbers.”
It wasn’t clear how many people attended the lunchtime webinar, but several attendees were concerned about mask mandates.
Paes said her office will continue to follow any public health guidance or orders in place at the time of in-person voting.
“We will also follow the county’s employee workplace policies in place at the time as it relates to COVID-19,” she said. “All workers at the vote centers are temporary county employees as these locations are open multiple days. We no longer have one-day volunteers at vote centers.”