Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, founder and chairman of the African American Voter Registration, Education and Participation (AAVREP) project Monday in a letter from AAVREP legal counsel to Dean Logan, acting-L.A. County Registrar-Recorder, called on Logan to count and certify the ballots of some 100,000 Decline To State (DTS) voters whose votes for presidential nominees have gone uncounted in California’s Presidential Primary on Tuesday, February 5.
Ridley-Thomas said, “Confusion reigned on Super Tuesday all over L.A. County when it came time to lawfully enable Decline To State to effectively cast their ballots. This ballot mess is unacceptable, intolerable and it will be legally challenged so that these problems can be corrected once and for all, and so we do not have to revisit these problems in all future local, state or national elections.”
“As a result of poor polling place worker instructions and overall confusion on how to guide DTS voters in filling out their ballots properly, an estimated 100,000 men and women have been summarily disenfranchised because the votes they cast for their nominee for President have not been counted,” Ridley-Thomas said
“DTS voters were often denied the proper ballots and denied provisional ballots in far too many cases for this to be regarded as an innocent error. This issue of ‘double-bubbles’ for DTS voters must be corrected now and all polling place workers must be retrained to ensure they can administer ballots correctly and provide proper voter guidance in accordance with state law and county ordinance,” he added.
AAVREP attorneys intervened on Election Day (February 5, 2008) to protect the voting rights of scores of Decline To State registered voters who were being denied of their right to cast ballots in the Democratic Party Primary election in Los Angeles County.
Decline To State (DTS) voters are not registered as Republicans or Democrats, but they were able to vote in the Democratic Party Primary under election rules established for the California Primary Election.
AAVREP registered more than 25,000 voters in the past four months. Many of those voters will cast ballots for the very first time. From August 2007 to January 22, 2008, AAVREP voter registration team members registered 17,000 new Democrats, 1,500 new Republicans and 6,500 new Decline To State voters.
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced that a total of 49,000 new voters had registered in L.A. County from September 4, 2007 to January 22, 2008, the state’s deadline for the California Presidential Primary.
AAVREP launched an aggressive 1,000-voters-per-week voter registration campaign in August 2007. The goal of the effort was to reach 100,000 new registered voters in L.A. County [since the organization was founded in 2003].
AAVREP operates the most extensive voter registration and education program in African American communities in L.A. County. For more information on AAVREP programs and projects, please visit aavrep.org.