Election lawsuit on track for October trial -- Plaintiffs want registrar to count provisional ballots in quality control audit
Union Tribune (2016-08-23) Joshua Stewart
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Election lawsuit on track for October trial
Plaintiffs want registrar to count provisional ballots in quality control audit
By Joshua Stewart
| 2:37 p.m. Aug. 23, 2016
At the County Registrar of Voters, ballots were accepted all day and into the evening. — John Gastaldo
SAN DIEGO — A lawsuit that contends San Diego County did not follow proper procedures when auditing results from this spring’s primary election is moving toward a trial.
A suit by Ray Lutz, the national coordinator for government watchdog Citizens’ Oversight Inc., is scheduled for an Oct. 3 trial (NOTE: Rescheduled for Oct 4).
It’s expected to conclude about a month ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
The group seeks to change how the San Diego County Registrar of Voters audits ballots to guarantee that the count is accurate and influence how other registrars across California interpret a part of election code.
Citizens’ Oversight says county government illegally excluded some provisional and mail-in ballots in its audit of the June 7 primary, forgoing a quality control measure that would help make sure that votes were accurately counted.
“This lawsuit does not prove election fraud is occurring. Instead, it proves that elections officials are conducting incomplete audits, exactly what fraudsters need to fix an election,” Citizens’ Oversight said in a news release.
San Diego County officials did not return a request for comment.
The organization said it has sent letters to California’s 24 most populous counties to encourage them to count all types of ballots when auditing an election. A few have indicated that they would include provisional ballots in their audit, while Marin County said it would not. Citizens’ Oversight said it would consider filing additional lawsuits.
The watchdog organization said that it has offered to settle the case with San Diego County on the condition that the county admit it was wrong, and that it agree to count all sorts of ballots when it completes an audit of 1 percent of all votes cast in future elections.
The case, while it could impact a procedure on how vote totals are double-checked, does not have any impact on the procedures or policies for voters who cast a ballot either by mail or in a precinct.