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Voice: Election day improprieties need to be cleaned up

April 08, 2002

On April 1, I was one of three people who oversaw a recount of two precincts, which was requested by my brother, Supervisor Tony Tirado. I first must take the time to wholeheartedly thank those five individuals (three ladies and two gentlemen) who actually did the recount. They did their work diligently and very professionally, and I applaud them.

However, I personally did not expect to find any irregularities in the numbers. My real concern is what happened on March 5 (election day) and soon thereafter. It is known that at least one precinct in Calexico did not have voting machines for some three hours. Think about it: this was election day and there are no voting machines at a precinct! This is like sending a police officer out on the streets to fight crime but you forgot to issue him a weapon.

Secondly, I was told that because there were no voting machines, people were being asked to mark their ballots (for whom they wanted to vote for) with a pencil and they would later match that ballot with another, use the voting machine, and basically re-vote that particular ballot for you. I do not know how most of you feel, but I would not feel as though I had voted if someone was going to re-vote for me at the end of the day.

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Another item of interest are some 500-plus ballots that, even though they were postmarked March 5 or before, were not counted because they came into election center after the 8 p.m. deadline. It is my belief that if these ballots are postmarked either before, or even at the end of the working day on election day, they should be counted. If I'm not mistaken, I believe the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of this action at the previous national election.

Another problem I was told about, and I consider this one to be a biggie, is on election day, precinct workers were allowed to go into the ballot boxes, at the precincts, under the guise of straightening them out or separating any damaged ones. You know, when I go vote at the precinct, the precinct worker will look up my name, I will then sign next to my name and then be given a ballot. I then vote and my ballot goes into a sealed box afterward.

I can see no good reason for anybody to go back into these ballot boxes before they are delivered to election center. Let's face it, the more you handle these things, the more like likelihood they will be damaged.

Now, I know that most people are pretty tired of hearing about this past election. So am I. But I also know that we must speak out if we are to clean up our act. I sincerely hope the next election will run more smoothly and be more trouble-free.

HECTOR TIRADO

Calexico

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