The Globe reported Sunday that the California Secretary of State may have invented a “print-your-own ballot from home” program just in time for the September 14th recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom through the Remote Accessible Vote by Mail (RAVBM) system. We asked several questions about how the program is monitored and managed.
We discovered that the original Remote Accessible Vote by Mail (RAVBM) system was created to assist those who are disabled and confined to home or who may have difficulties getting to a polling station, which Attorney Meuser confirmed.
However, our research on the SOS website found that the program no longer specified that the program was limited to the disabled. That is because a gut-and-amend bill hastily passed by the Democrat supermajority in June 2020, RedState reported. “This legislative workaround was necessary because Newsom had had his Executive Order-loving wings clipped by a Sutter County Superior Court judge last fall after a lawsuit challenging those orders was brought by two Republican Assemblymembers: Kevin Kiley and James Gallagher.”
But Elections Attorney Mark Meuser said on Monday it now appears this is a new loophole in California’s ballot harvesting program, and we have the Legislature to thank for this.
Meuser was also concerned that there was no guidance coming from the Secretary of State to the 58 County Voter Registrars. He said he verified this with a couple of county Registrars of Voters who said they’ve not received any procedural guidance from the Secretary of State. This could mean with 58 counties, there may be 58 procedures.
Wednesday, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber issued guidance to the 58 County Registrars of Voters.
The SOS memo says:
A voter can contact a county election official directly to request RAVBM. Additionally, for voters requesting the delivery of an Emergency Ballot pursuant to Elections Code section 3021, RAVBM access can also be provided as a form of delivery of the ballot by the elections official.
Ahead of the Secretary of State’s new guidance, the Globe decided to try out the online process Tuesday with the Secretary of State’s Remote Accessible Vote by Mail (RAVBM) system. We were required to fill out an online form listing Name, address, California Driver’s License number, birthdate, last four digits of Social Security number, before we could send in the request.
So it appears that completing the online form securely directs the registered voter to the proper county Registrar of Voters to complete the process.
The Secretary of State further explains:
For the September 14, 2021, California Gubernatorial Recall Election, all registered voters in California are eligible to use this accessible vote-by-mail system.
I am a California registered voter, therefore I am eligible to use this accessible vote-by-mail system.
I understand that my ballot selections marked by this system must be printed by me and submitted to my county elections official, [insert local election jurisdiction name].
I understand that I must submit my printed and signed selections no later than 8:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on September 14, 2021, – Election Day – by either:
o Mailing it via U.S. Postal Service with a postmark on or before September 14, 2021; or
o Hand delivering it to the office of my county elections official; or
o Dropping it off at any polling place, vote center, vote-by-mail drop-off location, or drop box in the state.
o Returning by fax for military and overseas voters (UOCAVA) only.
o I understand that my ballot selections marked by this system and submitted to [insert local election jurisdiction name] will be transferred onto a ballot by an election official in order to be tabulated.
The Secretary of State’s guidance is terribly important so that California’s 58 counties do not have 58 different procedures for the “Print-Your-Own Ballot From Home” program.
However, this does not address the ballot harvesting issue. As the Globe explained Monday, “Imagine if a ballot harvester comes to your door and offers to take and turn in your ballot for you. You tell the ballot harvester that you don’t have it anymore, or threw it out. So the ballot harvester can now tell you that you can print a new ballot right off of your computer.”
If you threw your mail-in ballot out, that’s a pretty sure sign you did not intend to vote in the September 14, 2021 Recall Election. But this new guidance from the Secretary of State doesn’t stop a door-to-door ballot harvester from coercing you in person to print out a new ballot and hand it over.
The Globe will continue to update this evolving issue.
This is the Secretary of State’s Guidance to County Clerks/Registrars of Voters:CA SOS Guidance
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