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Integrity of local elections at stake?

August 14, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

The integrity of elections is at stake because of voter fraud, say some county supervisors

Unfortunately, there is not much the county can do to check irregularities that isn't already being done.

"We have vast election fraud going on in this county," Supervisor Joe Maruca said.

He later added, "One day, they're going to steal an election. If we don't do something, it's just going to get worse."

The supervisors discussed the issue during a committee of the whole meeting Monday after a visit during last week's Board of Supervisors meeting from Richard Ciaramella, chief investigator with the secretary of state's election division.

Ciaramella spoke to the board after Maruca expressed concern over what appeared to be instances of an excessive number of registered voters at a single residence and alleged voter registration and absentee ballot irregularities.

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Ciaramella said the best that can be done is to follow up on the irregularities. He added voter education and a county committee to investigate voter fraud would help.

"My concern is we don't go out there and, in some form or another, intimidate people of their right to vote," Supervisor Tony Tirado said.

County Clerk/Recorder Dolores Provencio said she has had voters call and say they felt intimidated by election investigators. She said she is concerned a committee could turn out to be a source of intimidation for voters.

Provencio said it is important for her office to work closely with any committee to make sure no disenfranchisement of any voter occurs.

"My goal is to make the voting process as clean as possible," Provencio said.

The committee of the whole, which is made up of all members of the Board of Supervisors, decided to revisit the issue when it meets again in September.

Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452.

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