Voters across the state and in Mono County faced confusion at the polls on Tuesday, June 7, with many saying that they were left feeling uncertain that their votes would be counted.
Many voters were left having to fill out provisional ballots due to problems with voter rolls across the state, and Mono County voters weren’t the only ones lining up to fill them out. “Hundreds of Californians complained of voting problems to the national nonpartisan voter hotline run by the Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Law,” the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday, June 8. The Target Book, an independent publication that covers political races, said that it was “probable” that as many as three million ballots remained uncounted on Tuesday.
Because California has a closed Democratic primary, many voters who wished to vote for the Democratic nominee for president had to request special ballots or vote provisionally, either because they missed the date to register as a Democrat, due to problems with voter rolls or, in Mono County’s case, problems with vote-by-mail ballots. In Mammoth, Mono County’s bungling of the ballot created confusion and lines at the Mammoth High School library.
“We still have a lot of provisional votes that we have to go through, we still can receive vote by mail ballots up until Friday,” said Mono County Registrar of Voters Bob Musil. Musil said that there were probably 150 people who had to fill out provisional ballots either because they did not receive their vote-by-mail ballots or because they mistakenly disposed of them.
Voting on Tuesday was “The worst ever, probably everything that could have gone wrong went wrong,” said Matt Jaroslawski of Mammoth. Jaroslawski said that he had gone into the Mono County offices before the May 23 deadline to re-register as a Democrat (he had formerly been registered No Party Preference) in order to cast his vote in the primary. He said he got his vote-by-mail ballot in the mail but mistakenly disposed of it—he said the letter he received from the Mono County Elections Office was confusing. “There was a letter that said ‘Don’t send this in,’” he said.
He said he then went to the Library on Tuesday to vote and was told that he had to fill out a provisional ballot, which he was afraid wouldn’t be counted. Provisional ballots are generally seen as less reliably counted by the voting public. Elections officials must confirm that the voter who fills out the ballot is registered to vote in the county and that they have not already voted. The California Secretary of State’s office states that “Every voter who casts a provisional ballot has the right to find out from their county elections official if their vote was counted and, if not, why it was not counted.”