We have read and heard much about election fraud, ACORN, CAUSE, SEIU, 100+% voter turnout in university areas, many phantom voters voted, boxes of ballots suddenly dropped off at polling places, etc. So we decided to do something about it this year. Some of the campaigns have engaged teams of lawyers to help us plan for dealing with fraud and smoothly interfacing with election officials.
A Watson campaign lawyer held Poll Watcher training tonight, via teleconference. Bill Scarpinio thought it would be a good idea to get our local group together for the session. We did that at the Whale's Tale Restaurant in Channel Islands Harbor, with thirteen people, from Fillmore, Ventura and Oxnard. Additional people dialed in. Santa Barbara also had an undetermined number of people, via dial in, I had heard earlier in the day that about 30 people had RSVP'ed. We always seem to get a lot more shows than RSVP on our web site. Even if you weren't at the session, you could still help, by reading this, studying the training materials and volunteering. I am checking with GOP about coordinating activities.
We ate and drank at several tables we put together for the occasion, gossiped, planned new Tea Party action (since we had a Steering Committee quorum there), gave out Watson brochures and assigned additional precinct walking areas through the weekend. We wish we had this many volunteers a month ago! several more have signed on. We also handed out Tea Party and Watson bumper stickers, as well as Tea Party business cards.
The first 15 minutes were pandemonium, because of phone feedback screech, until we isolated the problems and muted phones. The lawyer provided a summary of the most important points in the Training Materials, emphasizing the problem areas, such as intimidation, how we can establish the best relationships with elections officials, how to avoid compromising our side, "stuffing" of absentee ballots at the polls, clues on ineligble voters, broken machines, voter complaints, gathering evidence, poll hours, communicating with the campaign, Elections Division, dressing for poll watching success, etc. There were a few things in the LA-sourced training materials that are different here: no Poll Observer Certificate or badges used. He was citing Santa Barbara County rules,. We will check some of this with Ventura County.
Isla Vista (UCSB) --8 polling places for 19 precincts -- was cited as #1 trouble spot/risk area,with 103% voter turnout in 2008, 3000 registered new in last few weeks, previous site of reported problems. Ventura "Avenues" section and Oxnard Colonia, Performing Arts Center area, were also mentioned by telecon participants. We have asked Mark Lunn, VC Elections Div., for a list of trouble sites. Is there a map of polling places, or can we create one from the list?
High percentage (57% in SB) of absentee ballots and counting schedule/bottlenecks were cited as potential risk areas. Need to observe absentee counting and movement of ballots from polling places to collection points. Signature checking is weak.
The Inspector has the most authority.
The time to deal with fraud is when it is observed. Report problems immediately.
I had the impression that Isla Vista is their largest perceived problem and that we are a sideshow down here. No word where a response team will be in our area. It is a 40-50 minute on-site response time minimum from SB to here.
Our Poll Watcher training announcement.
Download the Training Materials
Download Voter Fraud Complaint Form (differs from the one in the training package. We shall reconcile)
Report problems to Campaign Attorney 805-845-9583
Report problems to VC Elections Div.: 805-654-2784
Report problems to SB Elections Div.: 805-681-5150
Report problems/get advice from Republicans: 888-775-8117
more to come ....