By Doug Porter
I will not write about Donald Trump today. I will not write about Donald Trump today. I will not write about Donald Trump today. I will not write about Donald Trump today. I will not write about Donald Trump today. I will not write about Donald Trump today…
The Cheeto Jesus is not the only thing coming at voters this fall.
It’s looking like there will be 17 (or 18) statewide, as many as a dozen citywide measures on the ballot for San Diegans and a few countywide measures for voters to consider. A few (okay, lots of) other people are running for office in local, state, and federal elections.
San Diego Free Press coverage of those contests will commence shortly after Labor Day, and culminate as mail-in ballots are sent out with a comprehensive progressive voter guide. Meanwhile, there are some developments to report.
Getting An Accurate Count
City Clerk Elizabeth Maland told City News Service earlier this week that more funding will be needed. And County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu may have a real logistics (and legal) problem in the wake of a ruling by Judge Joel Wohlfeil allowing a case to proceed that challenges the auditing method used in the June 2016 election.
A request by Citizens Oversight Attorney Ray Lutz to halt certification of the results of the primary election was denied. As the judge pointed out the certification had already happened and the request was therefore moot.
None-the-less, citing the “important and exigent circumstances,” questions about Vu’s methodologies will be heard by Judge Wohlfeil.
At issue is the decision by Registrar’s office to exclude late-arriving Vote by Mail and provisional ballots by the 1% manual audit required by state law.
The Citizen’s Oversight folks held a press conference this morning. Here’s a snip from their press release:
San Diego Registrar of Voters (ROV) Michael Vu said he would include ZERO Vote-By-Mail (VBM) ballots processed after election night and ZERO provisional ballots in the state-mandated audit process, thereby excluding 285,000 ballots. “They’ve had a habit of short-cutting this audit procedure for years. It is time to follow the law and include all ballots cast in the audit,” Lutz said.
The lawsuit included a request for injunctive relief, which would have stopped Vu from certifying the results from San Diego unless they included all ballots cast in the audit process. This request was declared moot, but the process was essential to get the judge to weigh in on the case in short order rather than taking months to complete.
Citizens Oversight will continue to execute legal remedies to get San Diego to either
1) complete the rest of the audit encompassing the 37% of the ballots cast that were left out,
2) restarting the 1% manual tally audit from the start, or
3) doing a complete 100% audit of the election.
“Vu says it would cost $100,000 to hand count about 2,850 ballots. Outside auditing firms said that they could audit the entire election — 100% of the ballots — for much less,” Lutz said. “Vu is pulling a fast one to try to make this seem much more difficult than it really is, and that makes you wonder what his agenda really is here.”
This ruling affects all other counties in California, many of whom not only exclude 100s of thousands of ballots from scrutiny, but also choose the random sample in advance thereby making the entire audit process a sham.
Before he came to San Diego, Registrar Michael Vu resigned under pressure from Cuyahoga County, Ohio following questions about how audits were conducted during the 2004 general election.
From CBS19 News:
Before Vu’s appointment, the county had a history of troubles, including absentee ballots invalidated because they were counted twice, shortages of ballots, misplaced ballots, votes cast by unregistered voters and voters who were not told of a change in their polling places.
Under his watch, problems continued.
Last May’s primary, the first attempt at electronic voting in the county, was marred by poll workers who were not prepared to operate the machines, some poll workers who didn’t show up to work and vote-holding memory cards that were misplaced or lost.
And last month, two elections board workers were convicted of illegally rigging the 2004 presidential election recount so they could avoid a more thorough review of the votes.
Vu defended those workers and their decision to pick ahead of time the ballots they would count in what was supposed to be a random sample. He said the workers followed longtime procedures and did nothing wrong.
Here Comes the Campaign Cash!
California Secretary of State records say campaigns supporting and opposing California’s 17 ballot initiatives raised at least $65 million from April through June.
It should be noted this number does not include money spent by people not coordinated with official ballot campaigns.
Big Pharma has already contributed $16.5 million to opposed a measure (Prop 61) mandating the State to pay no more than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does for prescriptions. Expect to see lots of TV ads warning us about prescription drug shortages and other scary things.
A proposal to extend (Prop 55) tax rates on high-income earners (set by Prop 30) has drawn $14 million in support, with the bulk of it coming from the California Teachers Association. Education funding has been a prime beneficiary of increased revenues in recent years.
It’s hard to believe that we’re still arguing about tobacco in 2016. A measure (Prop 56) imposing a $2 tax increase on cigarettes has received a $9 million loan from a coalition of hospitals. Tobacco companies R.J. Reynolds and Altria affiliates waited until after the reporting period ended to gave $16 million to defeat it. Cough, cough.
The Californians to Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana While Protecting Children campaign added a cool $1,046,807.48 to its coffers. The New Approach PAC ($2,300,000.00), the Marijuana Policy Project ($270, 333.38), Californians for Responsible Marijuana Reform ($782,788.40) are also supporting pot legalization (Prop 64).
Opponents to legalization raised $103,370 through the quarter.
Having said that, I feel obliged to note the numerous articles of a “concern trolling” nature appearing in the media lately about marijuana.
There’s the Sacramento Bee article, among numerous others, “When Pot is Legal, How Do You get Teens to Abstain?”, which while it notes that underage toking hasn’t risen in Colorado since legalization, also cites the JAMA study saying that kids being treated for accidental ingestion has risen.
“Pharmaceuticals and household products still account for most toddler exposures because they are much more common and available in the household,” the study’s authors wrote. “However, as marijuana becomes more available, exposures may continue to increase.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Despite the uptick in child hospital visits, however, the JAMA study points out that marijuana poisoning only makes up for 2.3 of every 1,000 poison control cases for kids 10 and younger in Colorado.
At a national level, the risk behind pediatric marijuana exposure pales in comparison to the danger of many common household products like diaper cream, crayons, and even energy drinks.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-legalization group founded by former Rep. Patrick Kennedy; David Frum, senior editor of the Atlantic; and Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor to the Obama administration just kicked in $2 million to the anti-Prop 64 campaign, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The opposition campaign to California’s Proposition 64 will eventually get a large amount of the money because its vote affects so many people and is likely to have the biggest influence on other states considering similar proposals, said Sabet, president of the group, SAM Action.
“If there is one thing we agree on with legalization advocates, it’s that California is important,” said Sabet, explaining why a large share of funding is going to the Golden State.
All this money flying around the state is just the beginning. The vast majority of money spent to influence elections typically comes in the three months before Election Day. I’m betting California will see a record amount spent on ballot initiatives this year.
On This Day: 1936 – Jesse Owens won the first of his four Olympic gold medals. 1981 – Some 15,000 air traffic controllers went on strike. President Reagan threatened to fire any who do not return to work within 48 hours, saying they “have forfeited their jobs” if they did not. Most stayed out, and were fired two days later. 2009 – Bolivia became the first South American country to declare the right of indigenous people to govern themselves.
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