Patterico's Pontifications


Right-Wing Nutters Float Crazy California Recall Ballot Conspiracy, and, Uh, It Turns Out to Have a Solid Kernel of Truth

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:45 am

[guest post by JVW]

There have been wild voting-fraud concerns floating around the web ever since Breitbart published a post a couple of weeks back claiming that the return envelopes for the Gavin Newsom recall ballot allowed people to ascertain the voter’s Yes or No vote on the recall if the user place their ballot in the envelope in a certain way. Here is the Instagram video that appears to have sparked this whole controversy (sorry, Instagram video embeds don’t appear to work in WordPress):

When I first saw this video my immediate reaction was, “Oh Lord, there they go again spreading these wild baseless theories. I played around with my own ballot, and what I discovered is that if you place your ballot in the envelope in a certain way, a side hole (and why that whole is there is a question beyond my comprehension) does show a filled oval, though the filled oval it shows is actually the “how to mark your ballot” example which shows the user what a correct vote looks like. Here is that picture sequence:

Note the example section on the left of the ballot.

Note the example section on the left of the ballot.

But after playing around with the ballot and envelope a bit more, I found that I was wrong. You can indeed manipulate the ballot within the envelope to ascertain how the voter marked the recall question, if the voter places the ballot in the envelope in a certain way. Note again the picture of my ballot above, and the section containing the Yes or No vote on the recall of Gavin Newsom. If I were to just place my completed ballot in the envelope without giving it any thought, here is how it might look:


You will notice the word “Gavin” peeking through the circular vent (and why this envelope needs such a vent totally escapes me; anyone have any ideas?). If I carefully manipulate the ballot by shifting it within the envelope (the ballot is probably only about 2/3 the size of the envelope), I can actually view how the voter marked the question regarding Governor Newsom’s recall:

No and Yes comparison

I didn’t do such a bang-up job capturing the “No” oval on the left, but with the “Yes” oval in the image to the right you can absolutely ascertain if the oval is filled-in and you can clearly see the “Y” part of the word “yes.”

Now this doesn’t mean that Democrats deliberately designed the ballot and envelope this way (I have been voting by mail for 20 years, and the design for both strikes me as pretty standard), but there clearly has been absolutely zero thought given to the potential for voting chicanery that this mail-in ballot invites, especially in a state where ballot harvesting is, to the annoyance of the best people in our democracy, absolutely legal.

I don’t believe that there exists a large-scale operation designed to toss out ballots which support the recall of the execrable Gavin Newsom any more than I believe there is a large-scale operation designed to toss out ballots which oppose his recall. But a democracy can only thrive if the citizens believe that the people managing and directing the civil service act responsibly and effectively, and the fetid bureaucracy in the Golden State has long since forfeited that faith through its infamous half-assery and corruption. For those of you Californians voting in the recall election, I strongly suggest that you pay close attention to the orientation of your ballot in the envelope before you seal it up and return it.


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