San Mateo Democratic Party Protests Paper Ballot Shortage in Primary


Andrew Byrnes, Chair
San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee
Phone: 650-575-8112

Gail Work, Chair
San Mateo County Democratic Party Election Integrity Committee
Phone: 650-400-9909

Paper Ballots Unavailable at San Mateo County Polls
San Mateo County Democratic Party Calls for Investigation into Election Day Ballot Shortages

[San Mateo County, CA]  -- By 10:00 a.m. on election day, February 5th, San Mateo County election observers saw that paper ballots were in very short supply at numerous polls.

Requests for more paper ballots from many polls workers across the county were made to the elections office beginning mid-morning.

Despite the county's purchase of onsite equipment to allow printing of paper ballots, poll workers were told to wait until they were "down to a few" ballots before requesting more.

Between the paper ballot request time, the printing time and delivery time, delays were being felt by voters and poll workers throughout the
day at many polls.

With record voter turnout, this was frustrating for voters who were directed to electronic voting with the lack of paper ballots at many of the polls.

"I observed that many polling places in the county kept running out of paper ballots", stated Gail Work, San Mateo County Democratic Party Election Integrity Chair.

"Our team of volunteer election observers saw that no new ballots would be ordered for delivery until they were down to as few as two ballots at a polling place. This caused delays in voters being processed and therefore discouraged people from voting at all or from voting on paper," Work continued.

"I'm concerned that paper ballots are being discouraged in polling places because it's more convenient for election office internal operations and reports results faster.

We should not permit fast election reporting to take precedence over absolute assurance of accurate election results. Many voters prefer to
use paper, especially after the Secretary of State Debra Bowen's top-to-bottom review of security on these machines," Work said.

Official election observers for the San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee saw poll worker preference for electronic voting when paper ballots ran short, despite voter preferences.

Paper ballots were short or ran out at an estimated 40-50 polls with wait times of 4-5 hours to get more ballots. Some polls never received refills and waited for as long as five hours.

At one East Palo Alto poll, a voter there requested a paper ballot three times and then was finally discouraged from using that paper ballot entirely.

The procedure is supposed to be that voters are offered paper ballots when they arrive at the polls.

On February 5th, voters had to request, sometimes repeatedly, a paper ballot.

This discouragement of paper ballots deprives voters of their right to be fully informed of their options and to choose the paper option for voting.

Paper ballots must be made available to voters who do not choose to use electronic voting machines.

The San Mateo County Democratic Party supports further investigation into the cause and effect of the shortage of paper ballots for the Presidential primary election.

Voters who were declined a paper ballot at their polling place are requested to file a Voter Complaint Form to the Secretary of State's office.

Find this form online at: