Politics & Government

No vote counting in Spain, SLO County clerk makes it plain

The county’s top elections official is warning local voters not to believe a rumor circulating that accuses the Obama administration of planning to outsource vote-counting to Spain during the November election.

Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald clarified the issue after a Cambria couple told her that people at a voter registration table in Morro Bay on Sunday warned them about the alleged outsourcing.

“It is absolutely false that vote-counting is being outsourced to Spain or any other country,” Rodewald wrote in response to an email query from The Tribune. “In California, all 58 registrars of voters oversee the counting of the ballots for their county, whether by mail or from the polls.”

Rodewald said the rumor is making the rounds elsewhere as well. “Unfortunately, it is exactly this type of rumor, with no basis in fact, that can undermine voters’ belief and trust in the accuracy of the election and vote counting.”

The issue arose locally as retired professor Walt Glaser and his wife, Ann, were driving home Sunday evening and decided to stop briefly at Albertsons in Morro Bay.

People at a table with a Romney-Ryan banner were registering voters, according to Walt Glaser. He told them he was registered to vote, and that was when a woman at the registration table told him that vote counting would be outsourced. He said her assertion simply wasn’t true, but she insisted that it was.

So the Glasers went home and called their politically active daughter, who lives near Albuquerque, N.M. She checked out the rumor on Snopes.com, a site that examines the veracity of political statements. This one was false, according to Snopes.

The Glasers remained unsettled, however, because of what they believe the false allegation says about the state of American politics.

“We stewed about this in the middle of the night,” Ann Glaser told The Tribune. She called the disinformation “unconscionable,” a signal that candidates will try to win “by hook or by crook” and an action that “undercuts” democracy.

On Monday, they contacted Rodewald, who set them straight. Rodewald also said she checked with the local Republican Party, which denied any involvement with the voter-registration drive.

On the plus side, Rodewald said, the episode “does give us the opportunity to remind voters that all of our processes are open to the public and anyone is welcome to observe any part of the election preparation — from ballot and machine testing to vote-by-mail processing and counting, Election Day proceedings at the polls or in our office, or election night ballot return and counting.”

The canvass audit that takes place after the election and must be completed before the election can be certified is also open to the public, Rodewald added.

She invited anyone with questions to call her office at 781-5080.