An organization calling for stricter voter identification laws in California claims to have found five counties in the state with hundreds of thousands more registered voters than voting-age citizens.
The Election Integrity Project said an audit of data from California’s VoteCal database for the counties of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Solano and San Mateo found a combined total of over 1 million more registered voters than there should be.
In the VoteCal system, there are no counties listed with higher totals of registered voters compared to eligible ones.
However, the EIP says VoteCal is not counting the number of inactive voters – voters who have neither voted for an extended period of time nor responded to mailings – still registered in the state.
“Many have moved or are deceased and according to federal law, they should have been removed long ago,” a June 13 press release from the EIP entitled “California appears to invite voter fraud” said.
The data all come from records from the California Secretary of State’s office.
“Why is this important?” the release continued. “It’s easy for anyone to claim to be an inactive voter and vote in their name. Voter fraud is the perfect crime since California does not require voter ID.”
Paine said June 29 because of the combination of high numbers of inactive registered voters and a lack of a voter ID system, she and others are no longer convinced of the legitimacy of California elections.
“Having such large numbers of inactive registrants on the voter rolls opens the door to voter impersonation,” Linda Paine, EIP president, said. “By perpetuating an environment that allows people to vote fraudulently, the Secretary of State fails to protect the civil rights of California voters and clearly undermines the integrity of elections in our state.
“I have driven approximately 200,000 miles in the last six years training people and meeting with people, and what I hear all the time is people have stopped voting, and they say, why bother?’” Paine, who started EIP in 2010, said. “They don’t believe their vote counts.”
Voter fraud has not been shown to exist on a large scale, and according to The New York Times, the 2016 election was no different.
However, Paine said this is “laughable.”
She said her organization was started after receiving a phone call from a Santa Clarita college student who found someone had voted in his name. And she said the EIP receives calls about voter impersonation all the time, though because California lacks voter ID, violations are hard to prove.
“If the only test that’s being used to determine whether voter fraud happens is ‘are there prosecutions?’ then we know that they’re not looking hard enough,” Paine said.
EIP also deploys observers to polling places across the state. The organization claimed June 13 that its observers found close to 3,000 violations of voter laws during the last election. Most of these violations had to do with voter privacy concerns, such as booths set up to face poll workers.
The organization has, though, been criticized for its tactics in the past.
Kathay Feng, president of public participation advocacy organization California Common Cause, said in a 2012 KPBS 89.5 FM report that EIP creates a hostile voting environment by complaining to poll workers about trivial issues.
“It’s unfortunate that they would see it that way,” Paine said of this criticism.
“We instruct them to simply show their training manual, which has the law coded, whatever code section it is and then they can read for themselves,” Paine said. “And we have found maybe 80 percent, approximately, of the inspectors will actually be thankful and make the changes. And we always hear them asking us, why aren’t they taught the election laws?”