UPDATE, Sunday June 12, 9 a.m.
Authorities have confirmed that hackers are the primary culprit of voter registration changes.
Voters all across Riverside County were surprised Tuesday, June 7 to find that they had either been re-registered as democrats or “declined to state,” barring them from the closed republican primary, or were otherwise turned away from the polls. Multiple reports of voter irregularities were filed in as the day went on. Enough were filed to warrant an investigation by the District Attorney, according to GOTV Vice-Chairman Michael Garrison. As the investigation is under way, hundreds of voters feel suppressed by what are being called “voter abnormalities.”
Garrison started receiving word of abnormalities around lunchtime on primary day. Reaching out with a Facebook post, he heard cases of several more who had been affected throughout the county.
“The report came in to me from a polling place in Moreno Valley where at least 3 folks who were registered Republicans were mysteriously re-registered as Democrats,” he wrote in an email to Valley News and on his Facebook post. “Worse yet, when they protested, the poll-worker would not issue them any ballot! They are NOT being given the opportunity to vote at all.”
Shane Davis and his mother-in-law Joani Barnes, who called her experience at the polls, “not American at all,” were both affected by poll-related issues in Perris. Campus Resort of America, their primary location, allegedly used a cardboard box with a slit in it to house casted votes, rather than a locked ballot box and there were no supervisors overseeing poll volunteers “like there is supposed to be.”
“I walked in, like you always do, come in the right line, go up to the counter, told them my name and they said my name was not on there,” Barnes said. “And I said it should be on there, I have my sample ballot sent to me, this is my polling place… and it clearly says republican. And they tell me they did not have it.”
Barnes was told that she could not vote that day but that she could vote democrat. After what she considered an agitating experience, she was given a provisional ballot in order to make sure her republican vote was received. Shane Davis was mysteriously changed from a Republican to a member of the Green Party.
In Murrieta, Keary Harris went to vote at his polling place and was told he was registered as a by-mail voter, something he denies having done. He was given a paper ballot and allowed to vote leaving his ballot in a locked box by the front door at St. Martha Catholic church in Murrieta.
“The poll workers were super helpful in my situation,” he said. “But, I have to wonder, will my vote even count now that the election results have already been announced. It’s disheartening that after 24 years in the military and voting by absentee ballot numerous times with no issues that I am having this problem now.”
Adele Harrison, who worked the Tony Tobin Elementary poll location in Temecula reported similar problems. She estimates that around 20 Republicans had trouble voting in this location alone. Those that had voted Republican for years and even decades suddenly had to either accept a democrat ballot or try their hand with a provisional one.
“By the time they get to the provisionals, the election is over,” said Adele. “And if they decided that, well how much of a difference can provisionals make? So they really never get counted. ”
Provisional ballots are a last resort, says County of Riverside Registrar of Voters on their website. Provisional ballots cast for local races that the voter is not eligible for will not be counted. This could disenfranchise voters within the county if their party affiliation has changed without their knowledge.
Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Riverside County Jonathan Ingram stated in a phone call that he has received a couple hundred calls from individuals who have had their party affiliation changed since Tuesday. Ingram cites the lack of personal identification when changing party affiliation via the Registrar of Voters website as the primary culprit.
“We spend so much time on protecting voters’ rights but it seems that the right to make sure that your party affiliation is correct is not protected,” said Ingram. “It is amazing to me that somebody could be a republican for 40 plus years and then all of a sudden their affiliation is changed and there is no notification process. There is no way to go and find who did this.”
Voters only need to provide their name with their license number or the last four digits of their social security number to change parties, according to Ingram who also serves on the Murrieta City Council. This has convinced him that the Motor Voter Act is another avenue for fraudulent voting.
Riverside Registrar of Voters Rebecca Spencer told Valley News in a phone interview that she has “not seen any evidence of fraud yet,” with most voters simply forgetting to fill out all parts of the registration card. Two were sent to the Secretary of State on the basis of possible fraud.
The district attorney was contacted by Valley News but attempts to reach him were not returned at the time of this story’s publication.
MaryAnn Miller, a volunteer for the Election Integrity Project, a nonpartisan organization that works to promote fair and honest elections according to their site, reported several concerns regarding both the privacy of voters and this re-registration that has disabled many Republicans’ ability to vote. She has requested that those who experienced similar problems on Tuesday email their stories to the Election Integrity Project at [email protected] to help resolve the issue.
Valley News also encourages those who voted using a provisional ballot and those who vote-by-mail on Tuesday to call (800) 773-8683 to confirm that their votes were accounted for. According to the Secretary of State’s office, this line can be used by Riverside residents to make sure that their ballots were counted and provide reasoning for votes that were not counted.
Reports of re-registration irregularities continue to come in from across the county, according to Ingram.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.