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COPs Report on the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Procedures

Citizens Oversight (2010-02-11) Raymond Lutz

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More Info: COPs Program, Election Integrity

Citizens Reveals Thousands of Ballots Misplaced and Hundreds Uncounted by San Diego County Registrar of Voters in November, 2008 General Election

Systematic Review of Election Cites Procedural Deficiencies As Negligent or Criminal

RoVReportCover300x387.jpg This report is available as a PDF file. Please complete the following form to get your FREE electronic copy of the report. To get your free report, please complete the form below. Please send other interested parties to this page to get their report.

  • Release Date: 2010-02-11
  • Length: 79 Pages
  • File size: 2.78 MB
  • Copyright: Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPs), Raymond Lutz
  • Hardcopy price: $20

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CONTACT: Raymond Lutz, COPS Coordinator 619-447-3246
Citizens’ Oversight Projects Committee (COPS)
Citizens – San Diego County, California


February 11, 2010

Citizens Reveals Thousands of Ballots Misplaced and Hundreds Uncounted by San Diego County Registrar of Voters in November, 2008 General Election

Systematic Review of Election Cites Procedural Deficiencies As Negligent or Criminal

SAN DIEGO, CA (Feb 11, 2010) – Citizens, a San Diego-based nongovernmental oversight group, today released the findings of its independent multi-year review of policies and procedures used by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters to process the November, 2008 general election. The report is available at

“Our review of the policies and procedures used in the 2008 general election by the San Diego Registrar of Voters reveals questionable practices that are negligent if not criminal. In a democracy, elections must be transparent and verifiable so that ordinary citizens can uncover and take action when irregularities occur,” said Raymond Lutz, the primary investigator and the founder and coordinator of Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPS) at Citizens “With so many missing ballots and glaring procedural deficiencies, San Diego elections are far from the foundation of democracy we expect. The Registrar must be held accountable, and should implement our proposals immediately.

Starting in late 2007, COPS investigated the procedures used by the Registrar, filmed the processing of several elections, and reviewed public documents representing the conduct of the 2008 election in five-percent or 85 randomly chosen San Diego precincts. Documents reviewed included sign-in rosters, ballot statements, collection center logs, tally center logs, scanner tapes, central tabulator audit logs, chain-of-custody procedures and post-election manual tally procedures.

There are many detailed suggestions regarding how the procedures of the Registrar of Voters can be improved to allows oversight groups to confirm the validity of the election. The most important suggestion is that the computer audit log be enhanced, a change that would incur no overhead on the part of the Registrar to comply during the election process, and would allow outside groups to reconstruct the election and check on the central-tabulator, a critical “black box” in their current procedures.

Important conclusions of the report include the following:
  • Comprehensive policies and procedures documentation do not exist and there is no methodology for tracking or improving quality.

  • The number of ballots scanned does not equal the number of voters who voted, initially off by some 9,000 ballots, or an average of about one ballot per precinct. Federal guidelines suggest a maximum of only four ballots can be lost in the entire county.

  • Ballot counts were not reconciled in 83% of sampled precincts. Only one sampled precinct had no errors, that is, the number of ballots counted by precinct workers agreed with the number of voters who signed-in and also agreed with the number of ballots scanned.

  • Tamper-evident seals were broken or incorrect in 6% of the precincts (99 cases), and apparently no follow up investigation was performed; record keeping to track tamper-evident seals is inadequate.

  • In the Post-Election Manual Tally (PEMT) which considers one-percent of the precincts, 29% of tallied precincts were defective, and in numerous cases, re-scanning the ballots confirmed that the original scans were at fault since additional ballots were “found” when re-scanned. The Registrar claims there was no error when in fact, the conclusion should have been quite the opposite, that is the scanning and counting process was seriously flawed and about 500 ballots were lost due to scanning error (far more than the two ballot limit imposed by Federal Election Assistance Commission guidelines).

  • The report of the PEMT was a mere five pages versus the expected 800 or so pages had the format suggested by the Secretary of State been respected.

  • The PEMT was performed “backwards,” with computer reports treated as correct and hand tallies as suspect.

  • The computer reports used in the PEMT could be manipulated by compromised Ro V staff and could not be detected by oversight groups. However, the PEMT was such a disaster, with 29% of the precincts failing, that it was probably not manipulated this time.

  • The central Tabulator Audit Log documented computer crashes and other errors, but there was no explanation or investigation, and no internal knowledge or documentation of what the crash reports meant.

  • The Ro V input dozens of votes directly from Touch-Screen machines despite the fact that these were banned by the Secretary of State in their top-to-bottom review, and required that paper ballots be created that could be scanned.

The entire report can be downloaded from this URL:


Friday, Feb 12, 10am – Raymond Lutz will be delivering a hardcopy report to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters (5201 Ruffin Road, Suite I, San Diego, CA. 92123). Mr. Lutz and other COPs volunteers will be available for questions at that time.


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Title COPs Report on the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Procedures
Publisher Citizens Oversight
Author Raymond Lutz
Pub Date 2010-02-11
Media Link Please complete this form to get the report.
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Note This is document C00026 to Registrar Of Voters
Keywords COPs Program, Election Integrity
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Author Name Sortable Lutz, Raymond
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Topic revision: r16 - 02 Oct 2020, RaymondLutz
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