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CA 2020 Primary: Is California Going to have Iowa-style Primary Chaos?

With a threatened SEIU Strike, election software never updated, mass confusion at Vote Centers, it’s looking like chaos and confusion

By Katy Grimes, February 28, 2020 7:05 am

A bill to permit a voter to change their party preference or update their residence address without reregistering to vote has been passed in the California Legislature, and was just signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom February 13th, two weeks ahead of the March 3rd Primary Election.

Senate Bill 207, called the ‘Voter’s Choice Act even though California voters didn’t vote for it, was signed into law only one week ahead of Santa Clara County vote centers opening on February 21st, according to G.V. Scott, a longtime election worker California Globe has spoken with recently. 

Scott now reports that California’s Primary Election Day could look like the Iowa primary debacle, thanks to the confusion over SB 207, and the lack of consistent training going on at Registrar of Voters offices.

Santa Clara County is one of fifteen counties which were implementing a new Voter’s Choice election for the March 3rd Primary with all electronic vote centers, ahead of passage of SB 207. Scott said January 31, the county started training election workers on SB 207, even though the bill had not yet been signed into law. Scott said she sent letters to the Secretary of State and the county, questioning why they were training on a bill not yet signed into law, to no avail.

A group of election workers heard the Santa Clara County Election was being threatened by a possible SEIU strike Friday, with no equipment or  deliveries, and the 4-day vote centers won’t be able to open. But later in the day Thursday, Shannon Bushey, Registrar of VotersCounty of Santa Clara, sent out an email that SEIU Local 521 exempted Registrar of Voters employees from the strike beginning Friday February 28th.  “The Union and County Administration came to this agreement during their contract discussions today.”

One crisis averted, but the G.V. Scott and election workers have other concerns:

Four of us as private citizens visited Santa Clara County Registrar Of Voters on 2/21/20.  We asked to view Policies & Procedures for the new March 3 Voter’s Choice Act.  Bushey and her staff told us, “We have nothing you can view now.”  Bushey said, “We don’t have everything in a document, there’s a lot of things that we just do every election, we know we’re doing it.  So you are not going to find every single every single step of everything in a policy and procedure.  But there are many procedures.”  So many procedures they can’t show us any of them?

“Shannon Bushey offered us a copy of the Registrar Of Voters organizational chart – which she never provided.”

“I advised Ms. Bushey that Gov Code 6250 et. Seq. says if we arrive during business hours and ask to view documents we should be given the documents to review.  Bushey stated “ It’s definitely not doable right now.” 

“We clarified the policies & procedures we were looking for by saying we want to know ‘How do you implement a new voters choice act?’  Bushey responded: “Some of that may be written some may not because there’s no time to thoroughly document everything that we’re doing so many months right before the election with new things.”

Scott said election observers have observed confusion at several Vote Centers.  At Gilroy Vote Center (Grass Farms precinct #0905) had 2 election Leads replaced because one quit, one is no longer working, but he was upset with lack of training of election procedures and was removed from the vote center.

“Other vote centers noted pens bleeding thru vote paper which is different from the vote stock used in training, and election workers observed processing voters incorrectly.”

“Election software was never updated as told in training – so Vote centers are processing Conditional Voters in the Epoll pads on screens that say ‘Provisional’ instead of ‘Conditional.’  Still glitches in the software, its not accepting new voters properly as of Wednesday 2/26/20.”

“There are between 8-13 election workers we observed at vote centers who over the past week were servicing 8 to 10 voters per day.  This is $20.00 per election worker x’s 11 hours per day.”

“The county is 80% mail in voters but they are spending how much $$ to keep vote centers open.”

“The cost of the equip is: Dominion $14,044,860.56 per year for 8 yrs.”

“The cost of E-Poll pads (Knowink, LLC) software $420,000, Hardware $1,243,300.”

“I was told by election coordinator at a meeting of the election Leads yesterday that the ROV had to let about 10 people go so far.”

In early February, Scott said the county Registrar of Voters training indicates that “everything is subject to change.” And it appears they still haven’t finalized anything, even with the March 3 Primary next Tuesday.


G.V. Scott has worked numerous elections in Los Angeles County and also Santa Clara County spanning more than 30 years, has been a poll watcher for the Election Integrity Project, and a temporary worker for the Santa Clara Registrar of Voters.

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One thought on “CA 2020 Primary: Is California Going to have Iowa-style Primary Chaos?

  1. What a nightmare. We’re losing our vote. Generalize what you have found to the entire state’s “voting centers” and how can we have a valid election? And the cost of these %$#@& machines! Obscene.

    I don’t know the answer but I can fantasize as well as a clueless progressive and in my dreams help comes from outside of the state to lift us out of this chaos.

    Thank you for the report, Katy, and your legwork on it. Nothing like seeing it in person, I’m sure!

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