Amid accusations by President Donald Trump of widespread voter fraud in California, Orange County’s civil grand jury says it conducted a thorough review of the local voting system – and found no signs of significant fraud in the recent election.
In a new report Monday titled “No Voter Fraud Here: The Transparent Election Process,” grand jurors said their evaluation left them highly confident in the integrity of the county’s voting system.
“The Grand Jury was impressed with the commitment of all employees, volunteers and poll workers to maintain ballot box security and vote integrity, over and above Federal and State laws,” jurors wrote.
“The Grand Jury found no evidence of widespread or organized voter fraud or vote interference in Orange County election processes in this year’s General Election.”
Actual attempts at voter fraud are small and infrequent, the grand jury found, adding that a strong system of safeguards is in place to prevent and catch fraud.
“In the rare case that attempted fraud is detected, the [county Registrar of Voters] refers the case to the District Attorney” for potential prosecution, the report states.
“Attempts at voter fraud are so minimal that election results are not impacted and the Grand Jury is confident that election results in Orange County are valid.”
In a rare move, the panel had no recommendations for changing or improving the fraud detection system.
Grand jurors said they conducted a “comprehensive evaluation of the voting process in Orange County” that involved examining “all areas of election operations and management.”
This included a review, they said, of “voter registration, control and use of the voter registration roster, ballot creation and production, ballot integrity and security, electronic voting systems performance, provisional ballot handling, use of pre- and post-election automation, vote-by-mail controls, handling of out-of-county voters, and voting service centers operations.”
“The Grand Jury interviewed [county Registrar of Voters] administrative personnel and employees, heard a presentation from the ROV on historical voting habits in Orange County, and attended the three and one-half hour training course given to all poll workers. Members of the Grand Jury observed Logic and Accuracy Testing and, prior to Election Day, teams of Grand Jurors conducted site surveys of three pilot Voting Service Centers. On Election Day, the Grand Jury conducted polling site surveys and observed 39 polling sites representing 57 precincts in 15 cities in Orange County,” the report states.
“Grand Jury members also observed the start of the vote tally process the evening of November 8, the 1% audit manual count of the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail ballot, a parallel printout of the electronic e-slate ballot on November 18, and attended the ROV post-election debriefing session in January.”
Not only were there no signs of widespread fraud, grand jurors said local election workers inspired confidence by continually improving the voting system.
“By taking a proactive position, looking for ways to improve the process, and ensuring the integrity of the voting process, the [Registrar of Voters] promotes public confidence in the election process.”
The grand jury also gave a thumbs-up to California’s new push to consolidate in-person voting into a smaller number of large “vote centers,” which Orange County election chief Neal Kelley has helped spearhead across the state and nation. The vote centers and mail-in ballots would generally replace home garages, schools and other neighborhood polling places.
“It is believed that Voting Service Centers…which are to be located at strategic sites throughout the County, will promote voter turnout, provide longer timeframes for ballot casting, maintain the security of the voting process, and preserve election integrity in the years ahead,” the grand jury wrote.
After winning the presidency in November, Trump claimed that millions of people voted illegally, including in California, and promised a “major investigation” into it.
He won the Electoral College by a wide margin (306 to 232), but according to official results lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 2.86 million votes.
Trump’s claim has been widely disputed by state election officials across the country, including many Republicans who oversee elections in their states. The claim was also rejected by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, as well as Republican U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“There is no evidence that [voter fraud] occurred in such a significant number that would have changed the presidential election,” McConnell said last month.
Trump had planned to sign an executive order launching the voting fraud probe, but has yet to do so. In early February he said he’ll be establishing a federal commission to investigate the issue, led by Vice President Mike Pence, who has yet to set it up.
Over 1.2 million Orange County voters cast ballots in the November election, out of 14.6 million voters statewide, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.
Orange County cast more votes in the presidential election than 19 individual states, including Kansas, Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico.
Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.