Ballot Snafu in California Election

Approximately 7,000 Orange County (search) voters were given the wrong ballots in last week's election by poll workers unfamiliar with a new electronic voting system, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

As a result, many people voted for candidates outside their legislative districts, the newspaper said.

However, "from what we have seen so far, we do not believe any of these instances where people voted in precincts they shouldn't have voted in would have affected any of the races," said Steve Rodermund, Orange County's registrar of voters.

Some precincts in the southern California county recorded more votes than they have voters and others had unusually low turnouts, according to the Times, which analyzed county election data. Five of the county's six congressional races, four of its five state Senate elections and five of its nine Assembly contests were affected, it said.

Elections officials said some poll workers gave voters incorrect computer access codes, which resulted in voters accessing electronic ballots for elections outside their districts.

An exact number of incorrect votes is impossible to determine because of steps taken to ensure voter confidentiality, said David Hart, chairman of Texas-based Hart InterCivic (search), which manufactured Orange County's voting system.

Under the new electronic system, voters arriving at their polling places were given tickets with their precinct number and party affiliation. They handed the tickets to poll workers who checked them against computer records and provided four-digit access codes to use in accessing the proper electronic ballots.

Several poll workers said they didn't know more than one precinct had been assigned to their polling places, however, and thus gave some people the wrong access codes.

"I was very upset about it," said Shirley Green, an Anaheim voter who discovered she received the wrong legislative district code.