Monday, July 31, 2006

CA-50's Illegal Election Results

The controversy over voting irregularities in the June 3 elections in San Diego County continued today. Raw Story reported that election attorney Paul Lehto has joined with several San Diego County and 50th congressional district resident in a lawsuit demanding that the court direct a complete hand recount of the 50th district ballots.

“We are filing this lawsuit to seek the truth regarding the election,” said Lehto, who added that the lawsuit alone is not intended to install Busby in Congress, since only Congress has the power to oust a member who has been sworn into office. But he noted, “If we can get something changed here, it could not only improve things in the 50th Congressional District, but in the 434 other Congressional races across the country in November.”

The lawsuit will be filed on behalf of three voters in the 50th Congressional District: Jacobsen (who filed the hand count request), attorney Lillian Ritt, and Brian Weissman, a computer professional. The suit does not claim to represent Democratic candidate Francine Busby.

In addition, the lawsuit request that the court establish a cost for the recount. When the initial recount request was made by 50th district resident and voter, Gail Jacobsen, county Registrar of Voters, Mikel Haas estabished the recount cost a $1 per vote or $150,000 for the complete process. Haas then failed to provide Jacobsen with the appropriate documentation to complete her request and he has continued to stonewall Jacobsen.

The San Diego lawsuit will ask the court to set appropriate costs for the recount.

“That would certainly be less than Haas was demanding,” Lehto predicted. Haas asked Jacbsen for $150,000, or a dollar a vote, to conduct a hand count – far higher than the 14 cents a vote reportedly charged by a neighboring county.

In addition, the suit will seek affirmative evidence of election irregularities, such as whether absentee ballots were lumped together to list inexplicably high voter turnout rates. “The Registrar’s own reports say that this was done,” Lehto observed. For example, absentee precinct 99068 lists a seemingly impossible 4,750% turnout, according to the Registrar’s published records.

The suit also seeks to reveal ways in which the public and plaintiffs have been “prevented from determining if election irregularities or fraud have occurred,” Lehto told RAW STORY, citing “blinding or withholding information,” as key issues. “The voting machine sleepovers is also a good example of that,” he added, referring to Haas’ practice of allowing poll workers to take home electronic voting machines with programmable memory cards inside for weeks before the election. “To the degree that we don’t have forensic analysis, any codes placed on machines is undetectable.”

Three San Diego television outlets picked up on the story today and included summaries of the actions in the local evening news reports. Local ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates went with the story. The Union Tribune will carry the story in its Tuesday edition.

Interestingly, since he has already been sworn into office, Brian Bilbray can not be removed from his position, even if a recount shows that he actually had fewer votes than Francine Busby. How would the Republican congress handle that little issue?