Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pappas Lawsuit Explained....

Mea culpa -- I had a really bad day for typos yesterday. Let's see if I do better today :) -- Sara

There are a few things about the Pappas lawsuit over the Third Supervisorial District election which bother me but I'm not so sure I've been able to communicate them effectively in prior posts. The following is a list published over at Black Box Voting which succinctly states what is problematic with the lawsuit from a small-d democratic point of view:

(1) Candidate Steve Pappas proposes to eliminate the votes of entire precincts based on the contention that a few voters were ineligible. This would set a horrific precedent. Of course, you can't purge just the votes of any voters found to be ineligible, because votes are anonymous. Therefore this candidate proposes purging ALL the votes in certain precincts, eligible and ineligible, which would not only wrongfully disenfranchise legitimate voters, but would set a precedent that could allow tampering with elections by injecting a few ineligible voters in key precincts as "poison pills."

(2) This lawsuit illustrates how the Help America Vote Act can be used against voters. This kind of litigation imposes what is probably an unsustainable burden of diligence on poll workers and election officials to research every voter registration and voter who shows up to vote.

(3) Alleges "potentially improper" registrations. We don't want ineligible people voting, but we certainly don't want registering to vote to cause voter intimidation through personal investigations or harassment.

Whether Democrat or Republican, at least some of the above should bother you. Would you want your vote invalidated because of a few bad registrations for instance? Do we want county employees spending time on this so far after the fact? Finally, aren't "improper" registrations more relative to the intent of the person registering than whether the registrar signed the card as well? Maybe....but are we willing to throw away votes based more on the precinct one votes in (that happens to be filled with liberal students) than on someone's ability and intent to vote? I don't think so....

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Blogger Don McDermott said...

Wow! If this small-d (democratic) interpretation of the suit is correctly explained, what is Pappas Thinking? The issue is "potentially improper registrations." Everyone would be concerned about that. If a judge found the Pappas evidence accurate and was sympathetic to this part of the suit, then shouldn't there be scrutiny of the registration process, throwing out illegal registrations rather than throwing out every vote in a precinct? Doesn't Pappas want the votes counted?

1/14/2009 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Joe Q said...

If you talk to Pappas he will tell you he wants each vote counted, even the ones against him, as long as they were entirely thorough and complete in the registration and balloting process. I'm not sure how to reconcile that with the interpretation here.

1/14/2009 7:58 AM  
Anonymous pooky said...

If Pappas is concerned about thoroughness and completeness of the registration process, why doesn't he contest *every single precinct in the Third District*?

The fact that he *only* focuses on the IV/UCSB precincts shows that his motives are not noble at all... he is simply trying to win the election any which way he can.

1/14/2009 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Cautious Observer said...

Yes, this seriously bothers me. I am tired of politicians trying to win elections in the courts, or through manipulation like this. I can promise you Pappas is not thinking to himself "what dangerous precedents could be set if I actually prevailed". All he and his backers care about is clawing and scratching at a lost cause. Worse yet, there was an attorney somewhere that was willing to convince him that he might have a chance of success with this... Of course they will still bill him for all the work whether he wins or loses. Unlike the candidates, the attorneys ALWAYS win in these situations ;)

1/15/2009 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Karen Jones said...

I seriously disagree with the vague explanation of the Pappas lawsuit presented here. I reside in Santa Ynez and many of us believe that Farr won this election because of the dishonest behavior of a significant portion of the IV/UCSB voting block. I suggest you read the coverage in the Santa Ynez Valley Journal if you want a more complete explanation of the facts.

2/24/2009 8:40 AM  

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