December 2, 2023

With former President Donald Trump and his right-wing conspiracy followers attacking election officers nationwide, it’s disappointing to see Democratic Get together activists piling on within the Bay Space.

The assault from the left targets Tim Dupuis, the Alameda County elections chief, calling for his elimination and claiming he has been unresponsive and chargeable for poll errors.

To make sure, there’s room for enchancment of the county elections workplace. However there isn’t any proof that Dupuis and his workers are undermining the vote. Fairly the opposite.

Moderately than assault Dupuis with skinny and deceptive claims, the activists would higher serve the election course of by constructively searching for enhancements. For buried of their accusations is a authentic beef that Dupuis has too many obligations.

Twin roles

Not like in Contra Costa County the place the elections chief is chosen by voters, and in Santa Clara County the place the top of the workplace stories to the county government, Dupuis formally stories on to the county Board of Supervisors.

Because of a choice made practically 20 years in the past that began with Dupuis’ predecessor, Alameda County’s elections chief additionally serves because the county’s chief expertise officer. It’s a ridiculously massive portfolio. The 2 jobs must be cut up, and Dupuis ought to deal with one or the opposite, however not each.

There are additionally authentic complaints that Dupuis, who has held each jobs since 2012, has shied from his position as a public face of, and voice for, the elections workplace. Whether or not it’s due to the calls for of his twin roles or Alameda County authorities’s troubling tradition of secrecy, it wants to alter.

In these troublesome instances, by which our democracy is beneath assault, county election officers resembling Dupuis should be entrance and heart, speaking to the general public and the press, transparently offering data that’s essential for guaranteeing belief.

Ranked alternative vote

That stated, these issues don’t justify the broadside that the Alameda County Democratic Get together and 9 left-leaning teams have launched at Dupuis.

Their assaults concentrate on three points:

First, there was the extensively reported error within the tabulation of ranked alternative ballots that led to an end result reversal early this yr in a race for an Oakland faculty board seat.

The incident stemmed from an incorrect setting on Dominion Voting Methods’ tabulation software program that affected 235 ballots. To his credit score, Dupuis, upon studying of the issue, rapidly consulted the seller, had the issue corrected and recounted the votes.

Some have faulted Dupuis as a result of it took judicial intervention to formally change the outcomes. That narrative ignores that there was no different authorized technique of correction: The brand new tally got here after the primary depend had been formally licensed and after the deadline for a recount request. Dupuis needed to work inside the boundaries of state regulation.

Youth vote

Second, Dupuis is being criticized for the county’s sluggish implementation of voting by 16- and 17-year-olds in elections for college trustees. Berkeley voters adopted the change in 2016; Oakland voters in 2020.

However the legality of the change had been questionable till this yr. A lower-court ruling in San Francisco struck down that metropolis’s plan for permitting non-citizen mother and father to take part in class board elections. The choose present in 2022 that the state Structure solely permitted voting by residents 18 years and older.

Nevertheless, an appellate court docket in August dominated that native jurisdictions might increase these eligible to vote in native elections.

Whereas that authorized uncertainty hovered over youth voting, there have been logistical challenges as effectively, together with how one can keep voter rolls for 1000’s of children that ensures solely those that dwell within the two cities take part and that they solely solid ballots in class board elections.

Dupuis says the county’s vendor for its voter roll techniques has discovered a approach to make youth balloting occur securely by the November 2024 election. One caveat: Like for any election by which native jurisdictions should pay for his or her county election providers, Oakland and Berkeley should cowl further prices for youth voting.

2020 issues

Third, the Democratic critics have lambasted Dupuis for issues in the course of the pandemic’s November 2020 election.

One stemmed from new state necessities for added safe bins the place voters might drop their ballots. The change left distributors dashing to fulfill the elevated demand. Alameda County positioned its order sooner than some counties in order that by Election Day it had put in all of the required bins. However they weren’t all in place earlier than voters began receiving their ballots.

The second downside was traceable to a short lived election employee — considered one of 1,700 volunteers — who gave flawed data to voters. In consequence, some took their ballots residence considering they had been receipts somewhat than the precise ballots.

When Dupuis realized of the issue, he had his workplace contact the voters who may need been affected, collected 34 ballots that had been taken residence and obtained a court docket order permitting his workplace to depend these ballots.