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Santa Cruz County disputes claims of a dog voting in November election

dog voting still blurred
Gemma Renee Locatelli via Facebook

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KION) Santa Cruz County elections officials say reports of a dog apparently voting in the November election are false following a claim made in a video circulating on social media.

Gemma Renée Locatelli was behind the camera and posted the original video on Facebook and told us she initially thought the woman she spoke with was joking, but then realized there might be something more after asking more questions.

In the video, the woman can be heard saying “my dog voted in the 2020 election.”

The woman, who we have chosen not to identify, claimed her service dog, Maggie Magoo Vela, was registered and someone voted in the election on their behalf in Santa Cruz County.

“I’m a dog mom, so I thought it was kind of cute at first, but then I realized it was a potential glitch that you would have a service dog with a registered microchip that gets transferred as being a human being,” Locatelli said.

The video has been viewed on Facebook 13,000 times and counting.

She said for her, it’s about making sure people are being registered to vote correctly.

“I didn’t think that this was honestly legit until she showed me the paper trail," Locatelli said.

In the video, the woman said she found out about the voter registration through an email and that Maggie's microchip number was used as a social security. She went on to say she went to a voting location and was told someone had already voted under the dogs name with a mail in ballot.

So we reached out to Santa Cruz County Clerk/Registrar of Voters Gail Pellerin who looked into the claims. Pellerin told KION no one registered by the name of the dog.

“I reached out to get more details so we can investigate and I was denied. And so I did my own research based on what I learned in the video and there was absolutely no one registered in our county by the name of Maggie Magoo Vela,” Pellerin said.

She also posted a tweet disputing the claims, writing, "for the record, a dog did not register and vote in our county. Our office takes allegations of voter fraud very seriously and will investigate every report."

Here’s what you would need to register: name, address, date of birth and last 4 of social or full ID number.

The elections office told KION the information is verified against data from the California DMV, social security and statewide database for previous registration. The signature on your registration or license is put on record.

If the elections office can’t make a match then it’s flagged and the office follows up with voter to fill in missing information.

The woman in the video also claims the dog was a registered service dog through "the Santa Cruz County Police Department" and Cabrillo College. The Santa Cruz Police Department and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office tell KION they do not register dogs, with SCPD calling the post "a hoax."

A Cabrillo College spokesperson says "this claim is politically motivated and is completely false." They add the "claimant" is not currently enrolled as a Cabrillo College student, and "Maggie McGoo Vela, her dog, is not registered as either a student or a voter (based on our student record system and confirmation from Santa Cruz County Elections Clerk Gail Pellerin)... The video she posted online is false and fraudulent."

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Elisha Machado

Elisha Machado is a weekend anchor and multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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