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Incorrect Sample Ballots : Mix-Up Could Result in Voter Errors

November 05, 1986|NANCY REED | Times Staff Writer

Voters who failed to look at a state candidate's name on their ballot Tuesday, and instead relied on numbers assigned to candidates on sample ballots, may have erred at polling stations in four San Diego County districts, the registrar of voters says.

Precinct headquarters and polling booth volunteers were instructed to warn voters to cast their ballots by noting the candidate's name, not the number, in precincts in the 74th, 77th, 78th and 79th Assembly districts. Those areas cover San Diego, Santee, La Mesa, El Cajon and county areas north of Encinitas.

Keith Boyer, acting registrar of voters, said several voters had called campaign headquarters and the county registrar's office to report that they had voted for the wrong person. Although most poll booths displayed the corrected sample ballot as a reminder, many volunteers working at the polls failed to mention the problem to voters.

The problem involved sample ballots and corrections mailed last month to about 670,000 voters. The corrected sample ballot matched the one seen in the polls Tuesday, but voters who used the initial sample ballot for preparing their votes may have made a mistake, Boyer said.

"People who mark their ballot ahead of time, and blindly go through and look at a number to vote, rather than the name, could have voted for the wrong person," Boyer said.

Candidate names are rotated on the ballots in different districts to give each candidate a first place on the list. The confusion occurred when the order of the names on the sample ballot did not match the order on the real ballot.

Some voters said they did not receive the corrected ballot in the mail, or threw it away thinking it was campaign literature, Boyer said.

The page in error listed candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and controller.

Boyer said he did not know if the number of mistaken votes would be significant.

"There have been problems similar to this. Whether this will be enough to have an effect, that is a question we don't know. We will look to see how close the vote is," Boyer said.

The registrar had predicted a 60% voter turnout, but estimates based on hourly turnout counts Tuesday continued to shrink throughout the day. At 4 p.m., the projected turnout was 53.90%.

Boyer said the turnout was disappointing and may become the lowest in San Diego history for a gubernatorial general election. In the 1982 election, the turnout was 67.7%.

More than 1 million people are registered to vote in San Diego County.

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