Spurred by heated political rhetoric questioning the integrity of voting in the presidential election, the Orange County Grand Jury reviewed the county’s system and found it to be flawless, according to a report released Monday.
“Allegations of voter fraud, vote rigging and illegal voters casting ballots have been found to be without merit in Orange County,” according to the grand jury’s report, which says the Registrar of Voters “continues to take a very proactive approach to improving the voting process for the citizens of Orange County.”
The panel also had high praise for how well the Registrar of Voters handled the rollout of a pilot program the grand jury called “the future of voting” in the state.
The county was selected to pilot the program in the November election in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Mission Viejo and Westminster. In those cities, Voting Service Centers were established as centrally located hubs where voters could cast ballots whether or not they lived in that precinct.
The system is designed to make it more convenient for voters to cast ballots, and, eventually the precinct-style voting system will be done away with. Also, the trend of voting by mail continues to increase in the county, with about 58 percent of ballots cast that way in the past election.
Before the election, President Donald Trump claimed that the outcome would be “rigged” in favor of his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After he won, but lost the popular vote by a 48.20 percent to 46.10 percent margin, Trump claimed “millions” of voters illegally cast ballots.
The Orange County Grand Jury reported that such illegal voting would be impossible locally.
“Given the unprecedented media coverage of this year’s general election, the preceding and ensuring rhetoric and accusations about the integrity of the ballot, the unique tensions surrounding this year’s presidential candidates and the many controversial local issues facing Orange County, the 2016-17 Grand Jury sought to thoroughly examine the (Registrar of Voter’s) operations,” the report reads.
A new state system, which was first rolled out in Orange County, connects systems in all of the state’s counties. The system also connects with the Department of Corrections to purge felons from the registration rolls; the Department of Health to make sure people cannot vote in the name of a deceased person; and with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Employment Development Department to update addresses, according to the grand jury.
The Registrar of Voters also checks with federal databases and law enforcement agencies. In Orange County, a “parallel data base” of registered voters is kept in case the county’s system is hacked.
“Should the state system go down or be impacted by outside agencies, the parallel system in Orange County is protected with independent servers under the (Registrar of Voter’s) control that are not connected externally,” according to the grand jury report.
—City News Service