SF election snafus continue

Published December 3, 2001 in Bayarea.com

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Several San Francisco supervisors had the Nov. 6 election on their minds today as two called for some kind of recount and a third voiced amazement that yet more unaccounted for ballots have appeared.

"It's a comedy now,'' said Supervisor Gavin Newsom, after learning some 400 ballots have just been found. Elections Director Tammy Haygood said today she learned late Friday about the missing ballots from a South of Market precinct and they were returned today by the poll worker who was in charge there.

The newly discovered ballots were blank but Newsom said they raised still more questions about the recent election and the city's beleaguered Elections Department.

Haygood explained today that the missing ballots were apparently held since the election by a so-called inspector, who is hired to supervise voting at each precinct. The man in question walked off the job on Election Day and was fired and replaced before the day was over, she said. Haygood did not say why he kept the ballots.

Sheriff's deputies were sent to his home over the weekend and then he brought the ballots in to City Hall today. They are being counted by hand, Haygood said, to make sure they are all there.

Haygood said the ballots are marked so that no one outside the designated precinct could use them to vote.

During today's supervisors' meeting, Newsom's colleague Matt Gonzales introduced legislation that would ask for a recount of the entire vote, while Supervisor Mark Leno said he would hold a committee hearing soon on a request to repeat the canvassing of ballots, during which elections officials check to see whether all the ballots issued are later accounted for.

It was during the post-election canvassing process, Haygood said last week, that 240 voted ballots were discovered locked in storage bins of election machines.

Asked why the 400 blank ballots were not discovered during that canvassing process, Haygood said that some city employees knew about them and they are being dealt with through disciplinary action.

A runoff election for San Francisco city attorney is scheduled for Dec. 11.

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