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Confusing Ballots Led To Nearly 250,000 Overvotes In California Senate Primary


SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A staggering number of voters had their ballots in the June U.S. Senate primary tossed out, and two election experts from Sacramento say it's easy to see why.

An analysis by Davit Avagyan and Philip Mueller, who run an online voter guide company, finds that the votes of almost a quarter-million Californians in the Senate race were disqualified because they voted for more than one of the 34 candidates.

Luckily, said Avagyan, Kamala Harris won easily, and runner-up, Loretta Sanchez, was far ahead of the third place finisher.

"It would have not made an impact on the election results, so it doesn't put it into question," Avagyan told KCBS. "But later on, if we have a tighter election, it's going to be a much bigger problem."

The problem here, according to the researchers, was that despite repeated attempts to educate voters about the unusually large field of candidates, some counties listed them on more than one page.

For example, Los Angeles County used an archaic ballot that showed them in two different columns on two pages, further confusing voters.

Muller said moving to touchscreens or other electronic voting systems would eliminate the possibility of overvoting, which is likely to happen again, and potentially, in a much closer race:

"It's a shame in California. California shouldn't be implementing our democracy with 15th-century printing technology," Muller said.

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