Translate this page

New election snafu intensifies scrutiny on Riverside County Registrar of Voters after primary

Friday, June 25th, 2010
Issue 25, Volume 14.

Riverside County supervisors are considering legal action to prevent 12,500 ballots found after the voting deadline in the June 8 primary from being thrown out.

During their meeting Tuesday, the supervisors discussed joining a lawsuit to have a judge review the validity of the ballots.

"My question is, is there not some duty on the part of the county to go to court to request that those votes be counted?" asked Supervisor John Benoit.

"I understand three- to five-thousand ballots typically arrive (too late) after an election to be counted, but this is double that."

Benoit, who represents desert communities on the five-member board, raised the issue in response to numerous complaints to his office over the past week.

County Counsel Pamela Walls said the county had been notified of plans for a private party lawsuit over the misplaced ballots, which were discovered the day after the primary at a Riverside post office, well past the 8 p.m. election night deadline.

With only three-fifths of the board present – Supervisors Jeff Stone and John Tavaglione were absent – and minimal time to research the issue, Walls asked that a decision over whether the county has grounds for a lawsuit be postponed until next Tuesdays board meeting.

Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore was prepared to certify the countys election returns Wednesday, but Executive Officer Bill Luna directed her to delay certification after confirming with California Secretary of State Debra Bowen that there was no legal requirement for the process to go forward now.

Benoit had worried such a step might forfeit the countys ability to pursue legal recourse.

Under state law, a county has 31 days after an election to certify its results. The deadline in this election cycle is July 9.

"Were getting to an issue of fairness, said board Chairman Marion Ashley, whose district includes Moreno Valley, Perris and Romoland. "If you go by the letter of the law, we cant count (the late ballots). But Advertisement
Advertisement for Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce
[ Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce ]
the registrar should process and provisionally count them, so we know what they are, and then let the court decide whether they can be counted or not."

Ashley favored participating "to the full extent possible" in the legal action.

However, Supervisor Bob Buster felt the county should stay out of it, instead emphasizing remedial steps the county, U.S. Postal Service and voters themselves can take in the future to avoid repeating similar mistakes.

"When we have more information, hopefully ... well have more understanding," Buster said, noting that an Executive Office internal review of what went wrong on election night is due July 13. Buster represents Lake Elsinore, Wildomar, De Luz and other communities along or near Interstate 15.

According to Benoit, the misplaced absentee ballots bore ZIP codes from one end of the county to the other. They were apparently gathered at the Post Offices Redlands distribution center and transported to Moreno Valley, then onto a postal station in Riverside.

Dunmore said in an interview last week that she couldnt understand why that occurred, given that in previous elections county officials had always retrieved late-arriving mail-in ballots from the Redlands facility.

According to the registrar, her office fell behind in its vote tally because of a crush of last-minute absentee votes, which have to be processed by hand.

Of the roughly 226,000 ballots cast in the election, 43 percent – 98,000 – were not counted the day after the June 8 primary.

The registrars office then needed another four days to complete the tabulation. The county was the last in the state to report its results.

One state legislator and two civic groups have called for Dunmores resignation, while a group of state and federal lawmakers wrote a letter to Ashley raising doubts about her "policies, procedures and performance."

Dunmore has said she and her staff have done their best to meet expectations in the face of budget constraints and changes in voting behavior.



Comment Profile Imagebetween
Comment #1 | Friday, Jun 25, 2010 at 7:42 pm
"We're getting to an issue of fairness," said board Chairman Marion Ashley. "If you go by the letter of the law, we can't count (the late ballots). But the registrar should process and provisionally count them, so we know what they are, and then let the court decide whether they can be counted or not."

Thank you Chairman Ashley. I'll use your "issue of fairness" rationalization when judging whether I am subject to the letter of the law of any of the laws on the books. Please send a letter to me confirming that my "fairness" interpretation is ok with you, and you will defend me in court.

It's very unlikely Ashley was part of Obama's corruption, but Ashley fits well into the "ignore the law, do what we want" think frame.
Comment Profile ImageDewaine
Comment #2 | Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm
I live in an are that requires that I vote by mail. How can I be assured that the vote I cast will be counted?

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.


Add your Comment


Images, Formatting, or HTML is not allowed : plain text only. You may post up to 5 website addresses within your comment.


The Valley News has tightened its' policy regarding comments.
While we invite you to contribute your opinions and thoughts, we request that you refrain from using vulgar or obscene words and post only comments that directly pertain to the specific topic of the story or article.
Comments that are derogatory in nature have a high likelihood for editing or non-approval if they carry the possibility of being libelous.
The comment system is not intended as a forum for individuals or groups to air personal grievances against other individuals or groups.
Please, no advertising or trolling.
In posting a comment for consideration, users understand that their posts may be edited as necessary to meet system parameters, or the post may not be approved at all. By submitting a comment, you agree to all the rules and guidelines described here.
Most comments are approved or disregarded within one business day.

RSS FeedFacebookTwitter

Advertisement for Crown Hill Pizza


Most Commented

Reach Local Customers

The Valley News The Valley News
760-723-7319 - 1588 S. Mission Rd. Suite 200, Fallbrook CA 92028
All contents copyright ©2015
About Us
Earthquake Information
Business Listings
Contact Us
Letter to the Editor
Report a website error
Online Digital Edition
RSS Feeds