4.20.2008

Polls and Ballots

The Weekly Wrap
BALLOT MORASS: "They told me a lizard was coming to town," said Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams last week. "They didn't tell me it was going to be Godzilla." McWilliams and his crew remain swamped by a flood of last-minute absentee and provisional ballots from last week's election. The degree of chaos is such that on Tuesday, McWilliams didn't even have a rough guess as to how many ballots were left to be counted -- though he felt safe in saying that there were at least 5,000. McWilliams said that he hoped the final tally will be available before Thanksgiving. Until then, the outcome of several especially close contests will be left up in the air. Among them are the races for the city councils of Arcata, Rio Dell and Trinidad, the mayorship of Ferndale and representative for Division One of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District.

FRAUD AT THE POLLS?: McWilliams added that he and his staff are looking into allegations of voter fraud at the polls last Tuesday. On that day, he and his staff received a call from Arcata resident Patrick Davis, who was told upon arriving at the polls that someone had already voted under his name. McWilliams went out to the site on election day and determined that someone else had indeed cast Davis' vote for him. McWilliams said that poll workers had a good description of the suspect and would soon forward all evidence to the district attorney for possible investigation and prosecution of a case of voter fraud. District Attorney Paul Gallegos said on Tuesday that his office, which would be responsible for prosecuting violation at the polls, was taking the allegations very seriously. "Certainly, taking someone's vote that's taking a big right away from someone," he said. "If we get credible evidence that can prove a violation, we will be prosecuting them."

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If somebody ever looks back on this and conducts an investigation - there were rumors of large numbers of people moving into rentals in Fortuna - like 16 to a house - lived there for a week and left after the election. The kind of investigation it would take to look into this will likely never be conducted. What kind of indentification would be required if someone was a new voter - copies of water bills? Driver's Licenses? Nothing at all? I just don't know the answers. Nor do I know if the rumors have any paper trails to back them up.