Conservative watchdog groups flag California mail-in ballots that show 'yes' vote to oust Newsom

The deadline for balloting is Sept. 24. 

Updated: August 24, 2021 - 12:14pm

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Two conservative-leaning watchdog groups are raising concerns about envelopes for absentee ballots in California's gubernatorial recall election having the potential to reveal whether a resident voted "yes" to remove the governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom. 

The Amistad Project and the American Voter's Alliance point out in a release Monday that the small, see-through windows on the envelopes issued in Los Angeles County can reveal whether a voter chose "yes." 

"When I saw this ballot envelope, I was shocked to see that it could reveal someone's actual vote," said Amy Cox, a concerned voter working with AVA to spread the word about the flaw in envelopes. "Our votes are supposed to be private. If someone can tell how people voted, then anyone who comes into contact with ballots could easily tamper with or discard votes they don't like."

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The groups say that a recent Instagram video on the matter, which now has over 400,000 views, has elicited information that absentee ballot envelopes in at least three counties have the same design flaw. 

The deadline for balloting in Sept. 24. 

In the video, a woman demonstrates how a round window in the ballot envelope can expose a voter's choice, a situation she says "asks for fraud." The woman, described as a friend of Cox's who does not wish to become the public face of this issue, also suggests Californians pick conservative Larry Elder to replace Newsom and put their ballot in the envelope in a position that preserves the privacy of their vote. 

A Los Angeles County Clerk says the design is "an established, recommended practice" that has been in use for years. The clerk also said in subsequent public comments the cellophane-covered holes are recommended by civic design consultants.  However, election integrity experts question what appears to be a serious flaw in the design, the groups also say.

"A voter should never be forced to reveal their vote by negligent design," Amistad Project Director Phill Kline said.

He also suggested the design was recommended by "shadowy nonprofits who dictated election policies that turned government offices into partisan get-out-the-vote centers."