Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley on Friday will launch an audit in search of any errors that may have been made in the handling of local results, according to a statement from his office.
With more than 1.5 million ballots cast on or before Nov. 3, Orange County’s turnout stands at nearly 85%.
For decades, county elections officials in California have followed elections by auditing 1% of precinct results, which means recounting those ballots by hand and checking the outcome to make sure it matches machine counted results, The Orange County Register reported. The audit is not required under California law.
Kelley plans to use a “risk-limiting audit,” which uses software to randomly select ballots for election workers to fetch and hand-count. If the manual count results aren’t proportional to the overall machine tallies in a contest, more ballots are pulled from the stacks and counted, according to the Register.
While it’s nearly impossible to have a 100% error-free election, Kelley is quoted by the Register as saying the auditing is designed to ensure the errors, if any, did not affect the outcome of any contests. It doesn’t detect voter registration fraud or ineligible people on the voter rolls, but election officials have other ways to check that, and anyone can report those concerns to the Orange County District Attorney or California Secretary of State.
As of Monday, Kelley had about 30,000 ballots left to tally.
Protests in Michigan, Colorado and other states have been taking place since Election Day, led by supporters of President Donald Trump who assert that various types of fraud, errors and cheating caused him to lose. On Monday, about 300 demonstrators gathered outside the OC Registrar of Voters’ Santa Ana office to question a voting system they allege is corrupt, though rally organizer Alan Hostetter said they were not protesting Orange County’s results, according to the Register
People lined Grand Avenue in Santa Ana during a pro-Trump election integrity rally at the Orange County Registrar of Voters offices in Santa Ana, calling attention to what organizers see as a broken national election process.
Historically a Republican stronghold, Orange County’s political makeup has undergone a substantial shift in recent years. Its 2016 support of Hillary Clinton marked the county’s first time voting for a Democratic presidential candidate since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, the Los Angeles Times reported. In 2019, the county’s number of registered Democrats surpassed that of Republicans for the first time since a brief blue burst in the 1970s.
Nearly 54% of Orange County’s ballots were cast for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, according to data from The Times, while 44% voted for Donald Trump.