Missing Ballots

We've got four registered voters in our household: one Democrat and three No Party Preference (NPP). The Democrat received his ballot in early February, but by the middle of this month the three NPP voters (who had requested “crossover" ballots to participate in the Democratic primary) had still received nothing. This seemed strange: the same address but differing service, seemingly based on party preference. I called the Mendocino County Registrar of Voters and was told that all ballots were mailed out on February 3, eleven days past, so they would mail us replacement ballots.

Curious about this, I posted a note online asking if anyone else had the same problem, and received a half-dozen responses from other NPP/crossover voters waiting for their ballots to arrive. 

By February 20 we had still not received ballots, so I went to the registrars' office to request a replacement ballot in person. As the receptionist went off to produce it, other staff came up to answer my questions. They told me the printing/mailing of Mendocino County ballots had, for the very first time, been contracted out to a private vendor [subsequent research seems to contradict this claim, indicating Mendocino has been subcontracting with this particular vendor at least as far back as 2018]. I asked who the contractor was, and after some balking — "I don't see how that is relevant" — was given the name Integrated Voting Systems. Replacement ballot finally in hand, I went home with piqued interest.

The next day I researched "Integrated Voting Systems" and discovered a sordid history of bungled ballots, unpaid taxes and debts, liens, suspension, evasive name changes, asset and liability dodging, delinquent filing, foreclosure, lawsuits, bankruptcy…in other words, exactly the sort you'd want to trust your vote with. The miscreant behind all this mayhem was owner Eric Kozlowski. At the end of this piece are links to stories which elaborate on past issues with this outfit.

Meanwhile, back to the present, if you have not received your ballot yet, you should go to the registrar's office in Ukiah (501 Low Gap Road) and get your replacement ballot in person. For many, of course, that will be a long drive and imposition, but because election day is only a week away (March 3) simply calling the office (707-234-6819) to request a replacement by mail is probably too late now.

If you did not receive your original ballot (or got it very late), please email me (mk@sonic.net) including your party affiliation and whether or not you requested a crossover ballot. I'm curious whether these delays/omissions indeed targeted NPP/crossover voters, as appeared to be the case from my initial inquiry. 

Three full weeks after they were supposedly mailed (Feb. 3), our three original NPP/crossover ballots have still not arrived. I don't think they're coming, and I wonder how many other Mendo voters will be completely shut out from voting in this election (or forced to submit a provisional ballot). 

After all the underhanded electoral shenanigans we've seen in the recent past, I'm not discounting the possibility that darker forces are still working to suppress our vote. It stands to reason that NPP/crossover voters might be targeted as likely Sanders supporters, and therefore a worthy demographic to disenfranchise. It wouldn't be the first time something like this has happened, and it's why you hear people saying that Bernie will have to over-win this election in order to win. The powers that be are terrified of that happening and will do most anything to stop it.


FURTHER READING ON THE DEEPLY TROUBLED PAST OF ERIC KOZLOWSKI AND INTEGRATED VOTING SYSTEMS:

"Behind those bungled ballots"
gjsentinel.com/news/western_colorado/behind-those-bungled-ballots/article_d2602634-986d-11e8-a805-10604b9ffe60.html

"Ballot printer imperiled 2016 election: Even more Colorado counties hired IVS after feud, court battle”
gjsentinel.com/news/western_colorado/ballot-printer-imperiled-election-even-more-colorado-counties-hired-ivs/article_a6f7d838-bee8-11e8-94da-10604b9ffe60.html

"SLO County ballot printer’s messy family bankruptcy"
calcoasttimes.com/2018/08/07/slo-county-ballot-printers-messy-family-bankruptcy/

"SLO County vendor’s troubles raise the question, who’s printing your ballots?"
calcoasttimes.com/2018/07/12/slo-county-vendors-troubles-raise-the-question-whos-printing-your-ballots/

"Fresno ballot vendor has trouble in Colorado, warned by state of California"
fresnobee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/political-notebook/article214758585.html


Eric Kozlowski takes a call outside the offices of Integrated Voting Systems in Denver on Friday. Kozlowski has claimed he is not involved in the business and that his college-aged daughter is in charge of the ballot printing operation, which came under scrutiny after a hand-count of Montrose's primary election, Kozlowski's $15.6 million bankruptcy and an incident two years ago which jeopardized the delivery of more than 1.2 million ballots to Colorado voters. IVS is handling printing and delivery of more than 500,000 ballots in Colorado for the general election. (Gabriel Christus/Special to The Daily Sentinel)

9 Responses to "Missing Ballots"

  1. izzy lacoste   February 28, 2020 at 10:00 am

    A disturbing, but not entirely surprising, report.
    With a few notable exceptions, county government seems to be following the national template. A convoluted and deceptive mess, headed for disaster. The enemy is now inside the gates.
    An acronym that easily comes to mind was coined during WW2.

    FUBAR

    Reply
  2. Mike Kalantarian   March 1, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    A quick update: I’ve now received over thirty reports of undelivered ballots, 97% (all but one) being registered NPP (and most, if not all of those, also being crossover). A few also reported someone else in the same household, registered either D or R, receiving their ballot in early February.

    Reply
    • Stephen Rosenthal   March 1, 2020 at 5:33 pm

      If it’s happening in Mendocino it’s happening elsewhere throughout the state. I’ll never be convinced otherwise that it’s one of the methods the Democratic Party is using to screw Bernie again. We live in unbelievably corrupt times.

      Reply
  3. sam kircher   March 3, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    I’m with Mr. Rosenthal, unfortunately. I would love for some other explanation to make more sense, even good old-fashioned, unintentional, unbiased ineptitude. Regardless, the result is unequal access and unequal protection for the 30%? of us who refuse to conform to the two-party duopoly.
    I immediately returned my request for a Dem ballot minutes after receiving it, a mere three days before the county registrar’s seemingly arbitrary deadline. I trust (naively?) that it arrived on time. As weeks went by, receiving only a sample ballot, I meant to contact the registrar via phone, or in person, but never did, knowing I could always just show up to a polling place, as I did this morning.
    The poll workers (three) were new, apparently last minute replacements who performed admirably. After they were unable to find my name in the rolls (I live six blocks from the polling location, but belong to a mail-in precinct, like most Ukiahans) one poll worker conferred, via telephone, with the clerk-recorder-registrar poobah herself before granting me a provisional ballot to complete, sign, and submit.
    In my fifteen or so minutes at the polling location, about six or seven other voters attempted to vote. Exactly one was registered to that precinct. The rest were either sent to one of Ukiah’s other polling places, or likewise cast a provisional ballot. I overheard a couple say the hadn’t yet received their mail-in ballot. I was encouraged that a couple were first-time voters.
    I can accept being left out of a Democratic presidential primary as a non-Democrat. I can’t accept being disenfranchised in an election that includes my future county supervisor among other state legislators and ballot measures.
    If voter suppression is indeed at play, welcome to the third world. If this is just another amateur hour Mendo foible, then God have mercy on the young, the ill, the homeless, and the highways that our dear county pretends to manage.
    If you can’t get the election right, what hope is there for your other charges? I await a perfectly inadequate explanation.

    Reply
    • Pam Partee   March 3, 2020 at 6:13 pm

      The registrar is being less than transparent. Today’s UDJ reports, “The Mendocino County Elections Office announced Sunday that some voters have yet to receive their ballots for the Presidential Primary Election today. Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder Katrina Bartolomie said that anyone who has not received a ballot by Tuesday can either ‘go to a polling place closest to their residence and vote with a provisional ballot, or they can come to the Elections Office in Ukiah located at 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1020.’” However, she fails to state the significant detail that NPP voters, probably those wanting to vote in the Democratic primary, did not get them. My guess is that a large percentage of county voters did not get ballots. While I tend to think it was “good old-fashioned, unintentional, unbiased ineptitude” on the part of the subcontractor, local races and measures can be close and any drop in turnout due to this mailing failure is unacceptable.

      Reply
  4. Eric Sunswheat   March 3, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    Would be interesting to see the details of the Ballot mailing subcontractor contracts, and if there were substantial penalty performance bonds.

    Question is whether Registrar of Voters Katrina Bartolomie was asleep at the wheel, and or the County legal Counsel not protecting voting integrity, possibly in collusion with ‘big D’ Democrats, by design, neglect or default.

    Also Greg Palast had some interesting talk about California voters and registration yesterday on Thom Hartmann show, that was broadcast early today on KZYX.

    The trickery was that NPP absentee ballot voters who wanted to vote Democrat ticket, were suppose to bring in their ballot with envelope, and specifically request a Democratic Crossover Ballot, not a Democratic Ballot which would not be counted, thus statistically thwarting Bernie voters more than others.

    Poll workers were not allowed to inform the voters of the situation.

    There was more conversation with Greg Palast, as to same day polling place voter registration, that is a new California law that was signed into law by Gavin Newsome two months ago.

    Political mucky mucks could expound more on the situation in post election analysis. Greg Palast is now being interviewed live on KPFA, at 6:03 PM Tue Mar 03, 2020.

    Reply
    • Eric Sunswheat   March 3, 2020 at 8:11 pm

      Correction, interviewed LIVE at 8:03 PM Now!

      Reply
  5. Mike Kalantarian   March 4, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Lee Camp wrote a good, and entertaining, essay about voter suppression last month. An excerpt:

    Let’s see, how do I explain a provisional ballot? You know when a little toddler has a ball and they go to throw it, and they cock their arm back and then the ball rolls out of their hand behind them, and they end up throwing nothing but air? But they think they threw the ball, so you can see them watching for where the ball is going to land? That’s a provisional ballot. It’s a lot of buildup, but you didn’t do shit. Because no one will ever count it.

    In truth, a certain percentage of provisional ballots are indeed counted, but by the time they are, it’s too late. The results have been reported, and the provisional ballots are really just an afterthought. For this reason, Palast calls them “placebo ballots” — they’re designed to make you think you voted. So don’t accept a provisional ballot. Demand your right to vote in the presidential primary. Demand a crossover ballot.

    Reply
    • James Marmon   March 4, 2020 at 10:55 am

      Now you tell us !

      Reply

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