Like millions of voters across the nation, Mariya Alcazar got her ballot in the mail last month at her Vista apartment.
But what happened next gave her doubts about the integrity of the state and county election systems.
There was a surprise every few days when she opened her mailbox. First, she received a ballot addressed to Mariya Swella, which is her maiden name. Then a second to her new, married name.
Then a third ballot, also for Mariya Alcazar. And then a fourth ballot sent to Mariya S. Alcazar.
“I don't even know who I am,” she joked. “I'm kind of in the middle of a name purgatory."
But Alcazar also sees a serious, troubling side to these multiple ballots. While she would never vote more than once, she worries that other voters might exploit this mistake and cast multiple ballots for their favorite candidates.
Getting four ballots, each with what appear to be unique voter identification numbers, has shaken Alcazar’s faith in government.
“If they can’t even manage to do this, then how can I trust them, as a citizen, to manage my tax money, or decide my health care?” Alcazar wonders.
Alcazar said she was just following the rules, when she re-registered to vote in May after moving to Vista. But she didn't get a ballot at her new address, and couldn’t vote in the June primary.
So Alcazar updated her registration at the DMV in August after she married and took her husband’s name. She said she checked the county’s voter rolls last month to make sure she was registered to vote in the November general election.
Alcazar said she found no record of her registration under either name at either her old or new address, so she registered again.
A few weeks later, the first ballot arrived, then the second.
"When I got the third one, that's when I started thinking, ‘OK, this is a little funny. I shouldn't be getting this.’ And that's when I posted on Facebook. And then the day after, I received the fourth one,” she said.
Michael Vu of the County Registrar of Voters told us that his records show that Alcazar registered four times: once in May, once in August, and twice in November.
Regardless, Vu said his department’s system has safeguards in place to prevent the recording of duplicate ballots by the same voter.
“Our office and the statewide system run duplicate checks to determine (voter) matches or potential matches,” Vu explained. “We would have merged the duplicate records prior to counting and allowed only one ballot to be counted.”
Still, Alcazar thinks the system should have spotted the duplications before mailing her the multiple ballots and she’s still worried that other voters might exploit a similar problem.
“It’s not a party or political issue,” she said. “It’s an American citizen issue. And if we cannot continue to protect the integrity of our voting, we cannot protect the rest of our rights.”