I-TEAM: Some San Mateo Co. voters receive multiple ballots, officials say it's 'not fraud'

Dan Noyes Image
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Some Bay Area voters receive multiple ballots ahead of election
Some San Mateo County residents received duplicate ballots and one voter who was mailed a second ballot is concerned about fraud. ABC7 News' I-Team investigated the issue and found out what you're supposed to do if you get more than one ballot.

DALY CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- A new step in the presidential election: San Mateo County began opening and processing mail-in ballots on Tuesday. But, the ABC7 I-Team has been investigating a report of duplicate ballots being sent out - a single voter receiving a second, or even a third ballot.

One voter who received a second ballot is worried this may be an example of potential problems with the election that the president has been raising. She asked the I-Team's Dan Noyes to investigate.

Most experts agree that the amount of actual fraud that may happen is minuscule, compared to the 156 million people expected to vote this year. Still, it's worth checking out every complaint.

VIDEO Bay Area rejected 23K mail-in ballots in 2018 election, data shows

One Bay Area county reported mail-in ballot rejection rates higher than national figures in the 2018 general election, according to an ABC7 data analysis. Here's how late ballots and signature issues can impact your vote.

Ya Ti Chien came to this country from Taiwan and became a U.S. citizen in 2016; she's very concerned about following the rules in this very important election. But, even more worried because she's received two ballots with the exact same spelling of her name and exact same address in Daly City.

Dan Noyes: "When you got that second ballot, what did you think?"

Ya Ti Chien: "I'm thinking what happened? What went wrong? What's the second one for, which one should I vote?"

Her partner, Michael Alexander, added, "And then she was like, 'Which one is real? Which one do I use? Are they going to throw out my vote because I have two ballots?'"

Chien and Alexander contacted the I-Team to get to the bottom of it.

Michael Alexander told the I-Team, "She didn't know what to do, which was why I immediately contacted you, Dan, I've seen your shows over the years and what you do is helpful to society."

They want to know, could this be an example of potential problems with the election that President Trump has been warning about, as recently as last night at a rally in Florida?

The president told the crowd, "So, get out there and vote, send in your absentee ballot if you've requested one, be very careful, a lot of shenanigans going on, you see what's happening every day, you're reading it."

RELATED: This website lets you track your mail-in ballot, see when it's counted

The I-Team went to the San Mateo County elections office for answers, and found a steady stream of voters dropping off their ballots at a deposit box. We also met county election official Jim Irizarry, and asked about Ya Ti's duplicate ballots. His answer: "The issuance of two ballots is a normal and customary process in every election."

Irizarry tells us San Mateo County has 436,000 registered voters -- each is receiving a ballot in the mail, and he estimates 1,200 voters will get double or even triple ballots.

"And ballots are generated twice, when there is a change initiated by the voter or by the Department of Motor Vehicles, for a change in address a name change, and then automatically a second ballot would be issued."

VIDEO: What Californians need to know about mail-in voting, casting your ballot in-person this November

When it comes to casting your ballot, some things are different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here's what you need to know.

Irizarry assures us that systems are in place to count only the first ballot to arrive from a single voter; any additional ballots would be blocked. Ya Ti Chien now says she will follow the elections office instructions, vote just one ballot and throw out the other one.

Chien said, "I really see this time, it's very important to vote correctly."

She was also concerned about reports of phony drop boxes. It's a good idea to look up your local elections office and verify the location in your area. And if you're mailing a ballot, just do it as soon as you can.

Get the latest stories and videos about the 2020 election here.