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THE NOONER for July 8, 2014
While the Legislature may be taking a deserved month off, there is plenty to talk about in California politics. Before I dive into this, let me be clear that I have not been involved in either campaign for controller, and did not contribute to anyone. But, it's rare we get to look at procedure and law to this extent.
In particular, elections officials in the fifteen counties in which John A. Pérez returned to work with more questions than answers yesterday. The Bee's Jim Miller reports:
Late Monday afternoon, Secretary of State Debra Bowen's office hosted a conference call with anxious county officials. Yet it remained unclear Monday to what extent Bowen's office will coordinate the recount process among the counties. The involved counties, for instance, use six types of vote-by-mail systems and seven types of polling-place voting machines.
"I think the Secretary of State’s Office has to play a role in this. They are vital to this process," said Mark Church, registrar of voters in San Mateo County, No. 5 on the recount list. Bowen's office was unavailable for comment after the call.
In the punditsphere--mostly on Twitter and via email yesterday, people started openly wondering whether the recount could lead to a Bush v. Gore-style legal challenge because of the multi-county nature of the recount. Aside from a couple of minor ballot measures, there hasn't been a multi-county recount in recent history. This would seem to invoke some of the legal analysis--if not conclusions--found in the Supreme Court case that resolved the 2000 presidential election.
Consider this from the ruling: "Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, Florida may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another."
Thus, Bush v. Gore raises a few issues about California's recount process that I don't believe have been tested by the courts.
Now, we're far from a lawsuit on these issues. For someone to have standing, the election would probably have to flip from Perez to Yee, which is far from a done deal. However, if that does happen, this could definitely end up in the courts, and it probably justifies a reexamination of California's recount laws.
More on the recount after the jump...
Miller further reports:
Other county officials voiced concerns that, notwithstanding the payment-in-advance rules for recounts, their counties could be left holding the bag if the recount ends before it gets to them.
Rebecca Spencer, acting registrar in Riverside County, which is No. 9 on the recount list, said the process of preparing for the recount involves pulling together thousands of precinct records and discarded provisional and vote-by-mail ballots. "It's about five days of prep work. That's my major concern – if we start that prep work now, and there are eight counties ahead of us, and they call it off, do we get reimbursed?" Spencer said.
This is an interesting point. A candidate seeking a recount has to front the money on a daily basis for that day's count. Thus, Pérez is only on the hook for the actual counts happening each day, but counties are expected to prepare for an eventual recount.
This continues the argument for a standard and funding for statewide elections that fall within 0.1% of the vote.
Perhaps we can package all these election revisions and submit them for Mike Gatto's X-Prize.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Celina Luna and Lee-Ann Tratten!
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