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Orange County and state officials assure voters that they will not tolerate intimidation or fraud

Voters fill out ballots at the Orange County Registrar's office in 2016.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Following President Trump’s repeated — and disproven — statements about widespread election fraud, Orange County officials sought to assure voters Monday that they would defend ballot integrity and protect polling places from outside interference.

“I think one of the messages that I want to make clear is that we’re not going to tolerate intimidation, we’re not going to tolerate rule-breaking in the vote centers, and we want to make sure that the laws, the regulations and the rules are followed,” Orange County Registrar Neal Kelley said at a press conference outside Santa Ana office.

During the event, crews loaded semi-trucks with 1.7-million ballots set to be mailed this week to registered voters.

Trump has urged supporters to monitor voting centers for fraud, a directive that has led to concerns nationwide about the potential for intimidation and disruption.

Trump has repeated the widely discredited claim that mail-in ballots lead to voter fraud — a claim California’s top law enforcement official called “baseless” during the Santa Ana press conference.

“The studies have been done, voter fraud in America is exceedingly rare, voter fraud in California is exceedingly rare,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “Vote-by-mail, specifically since we’re going to count on it so much this November election, is nothing new in California.”

Mail-in balloting has “proven to be secure,” he said.

Orange County District Attorney. Todd Spitzer said his office will prosecute those who engage in voter fraud.

“There are those people that need to know that if they are thinking about, or planning to engage in potential mischief, we will be there to enforce the law,” Spitzer said.

A member of the media at the event brought up Orange County’s troubled past with poll watchers. In the 1980s, Republican-backed security guards hounded Latino voters in Santa Ana.

“We will protect the vote,” Spitzer said. “ ... Rhetoric cannot control this election; the facts will control this election.”

Beginning Oct. 30, Kelley said about 300 county employees will be in the field and can respond to voters’ concerns.

Voters can report issues by calling the Registrar at (714) 567-7600, the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center at (714) 289-3949 and the Secretary of State‘s office at (800) 345-8683.

How to track your ballot

Voters have the option to mail in their ballots or drop them off at one of the county’s 116 secure ballot drop boxes, which will remain open until 8 p.m. Nov. 3 — election day.

Starting Oct. 30, voters can return ballots at one of the 170 in-person voting centers countywide.

Voters can track their ballot online starting Wednesday by signing up on ocvote.com/observe and at the state’s “Where’s My Ballot” tracking tool.

“So we have multiple goals of ensuring that this election is open and fair and free for all voters throughout Orange County,” Kelley said. “The secretary of state, I’m sure, would agree with me that registrars up and down the state have one goal in mind, and that’s to ensure that every eligible ballot is counted ...”

For more information on voting centers and secure ballot drop boxes, visit ocvote.com/voting.

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