Maviglio: The Truth About The California Democratic Party’s Elections

Nobody likes losing. Particularly close races. And I don’t blame some the backers of some of the losing candidates for executive positions in the recent California Democratic Party officer elections for being disappointed by the results.

But sadly, these losses are being chalked up to Black Helicopter-like conspiracies, suggesting the party is operating without transparency and perhaps outside of the law.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here’s the process that prevented that from happening. This gets a little geeky, so stay with me.

First, to cast a ballot, delegates were required to sign their name on at least three records, all of which are maintained by the CDP at the end of the process.

First they had to sign the registration form when picking up their credential. Second they had to sign a second form when they pick up their ballot. Third they had to sign the ballot itself.  In addition the voters had to sign their credential, though this record is kept by the voter and would not be part of the current review.

Further, any voter not present themselves, wishing to have their vote cast by a proxy, had to go through an additional process. They had to submit a written proxy form, which has to be reviewed and approved by a member of the CDP Credentials Committee.

Second, once a voter has gone through all these steps, and actually marked their ballot, they are required to insert their ballot into a sealed ballot box that is in public view in the voting room. These ballot boxes are constantly monitored by either CDP staff or a member of the Credentials Committee. Furthermore observers of the various campaigns are offered the opportunity to monitor the entire process – and they did. Observers of nearly every campaign were in the room.

Third, if any individual does not appear on the official list and otherwise believes they should be eligible to vote, they are automatically issued a provisional ballot.

Fourth, the sealed ballot boxes were only opened in view of election observers, who were then present during the entire counting process, with no ballot ever leaving the counting room, providing no opportunity for so-called “ballot stuffing”

Fifth, no ballots are “destroyed.”  In a handful of cases, ballots do have to be voided (not destroyed). For example, a voter may spoil their ballot and request a replacement. In this case, a new ballot is created in public view (with an announcement made to any election observers present) and the voided ballot is retained in case it is needed for any subsequent review or ballot reconciliation.

Sixth, no part of the counting process relies on so called electronic voting systems (closed or open source). The entire process is conducted manually using paper ballots. There is no way to “hack the vote.”

Seventh, this manual counting process is built around a system of redundancy. Every single ballot is counted and then recounted by a second individual.  If the counts do not match, the ballots are counted again until the vote is reconciled.  Where questions of voter intent arise, preliminary determinations are made by members of the Credentials Committee.  Observers from the campaigns are allowed to be present during this entire process.

Eighth, all these records are maintain and available for review. Original appointment forms.  County committee rosters.  Sign in sheets. Proxy forms.  The ballots themselves.

Ninth, the CDP does not have secret ballots. While not the reason for the rule, it provides an incredible disincentive to try to cheat the system. Any suspected problem ballot can be individually identified, tracked, and segregated from the rest of the vote. For this reason, the proverbial bad apple cannot spoil the bunch.

Kimberly Ellis lost the election for chair. Her observers were in the room, carefully monitoring every vote counted.  Her team now is reviewing the ballots – as are candidates for other offices. This is a long-standing tradition. (In fact, candidates in the past reviewed the ballots, oftentimes so they could send thank you notes to their supporters.)

That is her right. No one is opposing it.

And it’s Eric Bauman’s right to move forward in his role of chair of the Party. He believes, rightly so, that we have no time to waste to win back Congress and keep the governorship, every single constitutional office in the state, and our supermajority in the Legislature.

Republicans are making hay of the organized chaos at the convention. It’s time to move on — for our party’s sake.

It’s time for the party to heal, not for litmus tests and accusations based on ignorance and paranoia. California Democrats cannot afford to be a circular firing squad.

Steven Maviglio, President of Forza Communications, a Sacramento-based political communications strategy firm and former press secretary to Governor Gray Davis and Speakers Fabian Nunez, Karen Bass, and John A. Perez.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

For a different view on this issue, consider: 

Block: Coup in the California Democratic Party?