Los Angeles County's registrar has now managed to get through about 80% of controversial ballots cast a month ago in California's presidential primary. KPCC's Special Correspondent Kitty Felde says these ballots weren't initially counted because "decline to state" voters didn't fill in a bubble.
Kitty Felde: The main obstacle to a recount was figuring out the intentions of non-partisan voters. They only had two choices in the primary: Democrat or American Independent. After checking with California's Secretary of State and the county's legal counsel, Acting Registrar Recorder Dean Logan said his office figured out two ways to determine party choice.
Dean Logan: Because there were more Democratic candidates than there were American Independent party candidates for president, we were able to determine that any votes in positions 11 through 15 on those ballots would have been for Democratic candidates.
Felde: It's a little complicated, but here goes: On the top part of the ballot, positions 8 through 10 matched those on the American Independent ballot. So for those, election officials pored over the roster books to see what pollworkers had written there to indicate a non-partisan voter's party of choice. If everyone in the precinct had chosen a particular party, then officials credited the uncounted votes to the candidate the voter selected from that party.
In the end, acting registrar Dean Logan said he was able to count 80% of the non-partisan ballots missing the bubble. The result?
Logan: For the most part, they followed the same distribution, or trend as the other votes. It did not change the outcome in any substantial manner.
Felde: Among non-partisan, no-bubble voters, Hillary Clinton got 51% of the vote. Barack Obama got 42%. That was the same percentage Obama racked up among voters whose ballots were counted election night. Clinton's vote count on those other ballots was 4% higher. Dean Logan said the recount didn't change the result in a single congressional district, so the delegate count won't change either.
Logan: The more critical issue was that you had a lot of newly registered, newly involved voters who were feeling, rightfully so, disenfranchised. They took the effort to participate in the election, and their vote wasn't counted. So the real critical part of this, from our perspective, was making sure that those voters knew that their vote did count, and hopefully, that they'll come back in June, November, and participate.
Felde: L.A. County is retiring the bubble ballot before the next election.