With California’s election process undergoing big changes for the 2020 elections, election observers are voicing their concerns, saying some new policies could pose a risk to voter security—especially given the evidence of corruption in the state’s election history.
California’s local polling locations are being replaced by vote centers meant to cover large areas. These vote centers will be fewer in number than previous polling places, and some worry about the elderly, disabled, and low-income voters’ accessibility to the sites.
The Epoch Times spoke with Linda Paine, president of Election Integrity Project, California (EIPCa), a statewide election watchdog organization. The EIPCa describes itself as a nonpartisan group of U.S. citizen volunteers seeking to help to defend the integrity of the voting process.
Paine said California is unique in implementing these new changes to the election process.
When asked about the new “vote centers” that will replace polling places in 2020 via the 2016 Voter’s Choice Act, Paine expressed deep concern about their implementation.
“We strongly oppose the Voter’s Choice Act, because the most vulnerable populations, which would be senior citizens, the disabled, or the poor, who don’t have easy transportation, would now be required to find a way to get to a vote center. … It’s no longer the neighborhood polling location.”
The EIPCa was told by county registrars across the state that there would be no problem and that people could vote by mail if they are unable to make it to a vote center. However, Paine said there have always been issues with voting by mail.
“Two election commissions before us, when we started all the way back in 2010, indicated that vote by mail is the least secure method of voting, because it has to be processed. In 2018, thousands of vote by mail voters didn’t receive their ballots. Another group of citizens who were registered to vote in person were changed to vote by mail without their knowledge and they too did not receive it,” she said.
Report on Election Manipulation Redacted
According to the EIPCa, the irregularities go back nearly a decade when the group began to notice many red flags in the state’s election process.
“Between 2012 and 2015, the EIP had recorded and documented enough information that we provided it to the California Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights. That committee comprised of a Democrat and a Republican who reviewed our work and did additional research on their own and determined that there was in fact enough evidence to show that the civil rights of California citizens regardless of party affiliation were being compromised and potentially violated,” she said.
Paine said that an open public hearing on the issue was held Aug. 28, 2015, in Los Angeles County, but beyond the comments of committee Chair Nancy Eisenhart and EIP press releases, there was media silence on the hearing.
“That civil rights hearing was filled with 82 citizens who came from around the state as far north as Trinity County to testify about their observations as an EIP volunteer or as a citizen who was disenfranchised. They were all party affiliations and all manner of [background] of California citizens. It was a very good representation of the state,” she said.
The regional commissioner for the hearing, a Dr. Manerek, said that he was shocked by what had been presented to him, according to Paine.
“By the time we finished having the hearing, the regional commissioner, who oversaw the hearing and worked with us on putting together the final report, had indicated that he had never seen anything like this. He had come to the conclusion that citizens of all party affiliation were having their civil rights infringed upon because of the corruption of the election process, which was making it possible to manipulate the elections. [His] report was heavily redacted and buried.”
Paine says that the EIP has continued to call upon the state Department of Justice to unredact the report and make it public. However, the DOJ hasn’t complied with their requests. Paine also pointed out that the commissioner who published the report was subsequently removed from his position.
“The Committee Chair had been trying to reach the regional commissioner and was not getting any kind of a return from emails or calls, so she went down to the office. It was then that she was told that he was no longer in his position. That’s when she had to come up with the report herself. They gave her a copy of the report and that’s when she told us that it was redacted,” Paine said.
Eisenhart was scheduled to have a public hearing on the findings of the report in 2017, however that was changed to a closed-door hearing.
“In 2017, after President Trump was elected, she was at that time supposed to be given the opportunity to have that public hearing. Instead of having her on television, they took her into a back room where they give her five minutes to explain what was in the report. To this day, there still hasn’t been a public review of that hearing.”
Voter Registration Irregularities
The EIPCa found more irregularities in California after meeting with county registrars. Paine told The Epoch Times that voters’ names were altered or duplicated. One particular county, which Paine couldn’t identify, due to potential legal action being taken against them, had seen hundreds of voter registration changes.
“From 2012 to 2016, we provided our findings reports with the registrars. We would meet with them. After the meeting with one of the registrars, after the primaries in 2016, [we provided] them with 25 sets of 200 duplicated hard copy voter registrations, where the voter’s name was slightly altered or the birth date slightly altered to create a duplicate of the actual registration. The registration was signed by the person who did the duplicating and then it was stamped by the company they worked for.”
The EIPCa requested that the county look into the irregularities, but the request was denied.
“We met with the registrar, the fraud department for the county, and two investigators from the DA’s office. After providing the information, we asked if they could just initiate an investigation and they said they could not, because the way that was being done made it impossible for them to prove intent. What we learned after that meeting is that election registration fraud and impersonation of the voter is in fact a perfect crime, because even though we brought them hard evidence, nothing could be done.”
After this incident, Paine was certain that California’s election process had been compromised.
Facing the large changes in the state’s electoral process for 2020, Paine has stated that the EIPCa will continue to investigate to ensure that California’s voting process is within the realm of legality.
“What we have proven is that California’s election process has become corrupt and that it is in fact being manipulated,” she said.