Saying California's election rolls are vulnerable to duplication and abuse, Secretary of State Bill Jones called Thursday for various reforms in voter registration practices.
Among his recommendations are the creation of a statewide list of registered voters and a requirement that people provide some sort of identifier--such as a driver's license number--when they register to vote.
To reduce the incentive for phony registrations, Jones also would like to bar political campaigns from paying "bounty hunters" who register voters on a quota or per-voter basis.
Those proposals and a number of others were contained in a task force report commissioned by Jones after he took office in January. He released the 53-page document Thursday at a Los Angeles news conference.
The report, Jones said, "confirms my initial concerns that many of the institutional methods and procedures in place are outdated and conducive to voting irregularities, both intentional and unintentional."
The task force, which took testimony from election officials in February, went to work after highly publicized allegations that November's elections were plagued by widespread fraud. U.S. Senate candidate Mike Huffington blamed his loss to Democrat Dianne Feinstein on improper balloting.
Asked if he had found evidence that there was indeed rampant illegal voting, Jones would only say that his office was investigating more than 130 cases of purported fraud.
"I would have to take a leap of judgment and speculate," Jones said. "And I don't want to do that. . . . At this stage, what I want to do is prosecute the (cases) that have been brought to us and go forward with legislation on new procedures that we think are important to fix the problem."
Beth Miller, Jones' communications director, later said that Huffington, who lost by more than 160,000 votes, had informed the secretary of state's office of 56 instances in which ballots were cast under the names of people believed to be dead. Two cases remain under investigation. But in the other 54, investigators concluded that there was no fraud, Miller said. For instance, votes could have been cast by a man with the same name as his deceased father.
In another case passed on by Huffington, a non-citizen in Santa Barbara is being prosecuted for illegally voting, Miller added.
Proposals for a statewide registration list and an identification requirement are intended to reduce deadwood and duplication of names on the voter registration rolls. Jones said election officials estimate that 10% to 24% of the names on registration lists should not be there. They are people who have died, moved or been convicted of felonies.