RIVERSIDE – A Riverside County grand jury investigation into how the Registrar of Voters office managed polling stations in the November 2015 election uncovered issues that need to be resolved, according to a report the Board of Supervisors received today.
In a 5-0 vote without comment, the board accepted the registrar’s response to the grand jury’s findings, which stemmed from jurors’ observations during the Nov. 3, 2015, school board and city council election in Perris.
Discrepancies cited by the 19-member grand jury included misidentification of polling stations, ineffective poll worker training and poor set-up procedures within polling places.
Jurors stated that three polling locations weren’t properly identified on election day, causing confusion among voters regarding which address they were supposed to go to cast their ballots.
Highlighted in the grand jury’s report was a polling station at the Lake Perris Fairgrounds on Lake Perris Drive. Jurors noted that the property covers an 11-acre space with multiple buildings – but voting materials sent to residents did not specify where on the fairgrounds voters should go.
The registrar’s office replied that the fairgrounds’ “board room” was indicated on sample ballots, but acknowledged that “more signage” should have been posted to better direct people visiting the location for the first time.
The grand jury wrote that at “multiple polling locations, the poll workers were inexperienced” and that polling station “captains” were not furnished with appropriate documents on election day to record anomalies, per state law.
The registrar’s staff responded that “a mix of veteran poll workers … as well as new poll workers,” were staffing stations and that training sessions leading up to the election had complied with standards established under the California Elections Code.
However, staff did admit that stations may have lacked appropriate logs to ensure captains had the ability to document anything out of the ordinary. The registrar’s office agreed to remedy that in the future.
According to the jury, several polling locations had not been opened the night before to provide county election coordinators “quality control, ensuring the sites (were) arranged properly,” with the necessary equipment and furnishings in place.
County staff said sometimes polling stations are not accessible until the morning of the election, so workers are instructed to “arrive extra early” to expeditiously arrange the location.
Jurors noted that at two polling stations, they identified ballot boxes with one of two red security seals broken, suggesting the contents – ballots – could be tampered with or mishandled. However, the registrar’s office said that as long as one seal remains in place, the boxes cannot be compromised.