What You Can Learn From Monitoring Election Offices in California

Johnathan Hale Confidence in Democracy Initiative

Allegations of election fraud dominate news cycles — but what actually goes on in California Elections Offices? The Transparency Foundation sent in teams of volunteers in the June 2022 California Primary to review and report back on how votes are really being processed.

Are you concerned with the integrity of our elections? Many Californians are, and renewed allegations of strange or illegal activity this election are making suspicions grow.

One of the groups monitoring and analyzing how California conducts elections is the Transparency Foundation, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to shining a light on government corruption and ensuring the integrity of our elections. 

The group has launched its “Secure the Vote Initiative” in California to educate voters on how to safely and securely vote – as well as to recruit, train and deploy volunteers to monitor the counting of ballots in each county. 

In April and again in May, the group convened several training programs to prepare volunteers for their role as election monitors. Then for the eight weeks that the election offices processed ballots, volunteers were deployed in various shifts to monitor the process.

Carl DeMaio, chairman of the Transparency Foundation, says that his organization fielded reports from volunteers of several troubling actions and policies in various county election offices.

“What we’re seeing in our data and reports from volunteers deployed to local election offices is that while many were satisfied with the process, there were some significant concerns,” said DeMaio. “We have a long way to go to ensure that our elections are 100% free of problems or opportunities for fraud,” he continued.

“In addition to concerns over ballot harvesting, lazy or rushed signature verification and lack of voter ID are faults in our election system that might deem certain ballots as valid rather than fraudulent,” said DeMaio. “What we’re seeing here are problems with organization and efficiency that need to be addressed to really make our elections safe,” he explained.

DeMaio said the following were commonly reported by volunteers and need to be addressed in the future to further secure elections:

  • Registrar of Voters (ROV) workers comparing primary ballot signatures to registration signatures at a rate of multiple signatures in the span of a few seconds
  • Volunteer election monitors in some cases kept ten feet or more behind each ROV worker
  • Proof of covid vaccination required at some election office locations
  • Election monitors can sometimes only view workers on large screens or monitors, rather than directly
  • Election monitors may not interact with workers to point out inconsistencies 
  • ROV supervisors do not always listen to objections (in order to remedy quickly) and request instead that observers file reports detailing what they witnessed — which may be received and addressed too late

“These instances are in addition to our concerns we already have with ballot harvesting, voter registration errors, and other issues — and we must continue to monitor the process in order to hold the government accountable for a safe and legal election,” said DeMaio.

DeMaio says that his organization plans to continue their effort to recruit and train election monitors and expand it for the General Election — but this time with more information on what the public can expect as they observe counting. He also aims to encourage more people to take jobs with their local elections offices as ballot counters, so they can have a direct hand in counting votes correctly.

“If you’re concerned with the integrity of our elections, this is the front line where help is needed,” said DeMaio. “If you want to ensure the election is legal, then we need you as a volunteer or county elections worker for the General Election,” he explained.

A website has been launched on the organization’s “Secure the Vote 2022” election integrity effort that you can visit for more information on how to volunteer or apply for an ROV job. 

LEARN MORE: “Secure the Vote 2022” California

At the same time that the organization is monitoring the election and helping voters cast votes with confidence, the Transparency Foundation is also conducting audits of county voter registration lists to flag any registrations that are erroneous, ineligible, or outdated. 

The group recently released a report of an audit of roughly 7 percent of California voter registrations that revealed the potential for more than a million “erroneous” ballots being mailed out in the state as well as thousands of “high risk” ballots that were returned and counted in the 2021 Recall election. 

“Californians are right to have concerns about the election and their ballot — with an all-mail-in election using outdated voter registration rolls, California hands-down has the worst election process in the nation,” said DeMaio. “We’re committed to shining a light on elections in this state to flag any problems in real time and demanding improvements to the process in the future — but we need your help to do it,” he concluded.

Learn More: Support the Transparency Foundation’s Election Integrity efforts https://secure.thetransparencyfoundation.org/donate-election-integrity-initiative