North Fontana & North Rancho Cucamonga Voters Given Chance To Cast Ballots Twice In June 7 Election

A glitch at the county elections office has created the possibility that the outcome of the contest for Second District county supervisor could be impacted by perhaps as many as 5,000 residents in north Rancho Cucamonga and north Fontana voting twice in the June 7 primary election.
There is, as a consequence of the same mistake, a possibility that some of those voters who were mistakenly provided with the opportunity to vote twice will not have their votes counted at all.
County officials are not disclosing how widespread the error was. What is known is that at least 1,500 incorrect ballots were mailed to voters in north Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga, and the office followed up later by mailing out what it said were corrected ballots. The office did not say precisely how many faulty ballots were supplied to voters or what error or errors the first set of ballots mailed contained.
The Sentinel has obtained a letter from Michael Jimenez, San Bernardino County’s interim registrar of voters, dated May 13. With the salutation “Dear Voter,” the letter states, “Due to a clerical error, the San Bernardion County Registrar of Voters inadvertently sent you an incorrect mail ballot, and as a result, a new mail ballot is enclosed. Please disregard the mail ballot you previously received. Please use the replacement mail ballot included with this letter. If you already returned the first mail ballot, it will be canceled. Rest assured that the enclosed ballot is accurate and all valid votes will be counted. Please cast your vote with the enclosed correct mail ballot by using the enclosed envelope provided to you. If you prefer to vote in person on Election Day, you may find your assigned polling place on the Registrar of Voters website at Polling places will be open for in person voting from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, June 7.”
According to Jimenez, voters who received the incorrect mail ballots are being sent a new County Voter Information Guide.
The concluding paragraph in Jimenez’s May 13 letter reads, “The Registrar of Voters’ priority is to be sure you are able to vote on all contests and candidates for which you are eligible to vote. I apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused you. If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, please call my office at (909) 387-2100.”
Despite that invitation, elections office staff were unable to clarify what the discrepancy was between the original ballots sent to the voters who had been given incorrect ballots and the corrected ones, how many voters had been given incorrect ballots, which contests on those ballots were affected, what control was in place to prevent voters from mailing in both ballots, whether all of the original ballots deemed to be incorrect will not be counted and whether all secondary ballots will be counted. The office was not able to clarify whether a voter who voted using the first ballot provided him or her who then does not follow through with voting a second time will lose his or her opportunity to have his or her vote counted. In fielding questions as to how the elections office would be able to prevent voters who received ballots from voting twice, it was not able to explain how it could do so without subjecting each and all voters’ privacy of the ballot to at least potential compromise.
At the heart of the matter is that neither the registrar of voters office nor Jimenez nor the county in general is prepared to disclose what protocols and procedures are in place to ensure that the voting that will take place has integrity insofar as preventing double-voting from occurring in a way that will prevent elections office personnel from accessing the ballots in question and identifying which voter cast which ballot, which would subject the voter to having how he or she cast her votes become known to an agent of the government. Also at issue is how those who have already voted using the erroneously provided ballots can be guaranteed the right to vote in this year’s primary, if they indeed do not cast a second ballot.
Voters in north Fontana and north Rancho Cucamonga will have the opportunity, or should have the opportunity, to vote is several races. Even if the number of voters and ballots involved is no more than 1,500, the circumstance carries with it the chance that election outcomes could be changed. Most prominently are three contests: that for Second District county supervisor, in which Dejoae Shaw, Matt Coker, Luis Cetina, Nadia Renner and Jesse Armendarez are competing; Assembly Member in the 50th District, in which Sheela Stark, Rodgir Cohen and Eloise Gomez Reyes are running; and Congressman in the 33rd District, for which John Mark Porter, Rex Gutierrez, Ernest H. Richter and Pete Aguilar are vying. There are other contests voters in North Fontana are participating in as well, but those – for governor, short and long term senator, lieutenant governor, state controller, state treasurer, insurance commissioner, California Attorney General, superintendent of public education, California Secretary of State, member of the California Board of Equalization, county sheriff, county treasurer, county superintendent of schools and two judgeships are playing out in large venues where the likelihood of swaying the outcome is not as great as it is in the cases of county supervisor, congressman and assembly member.
-Mark Gutglueck

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