A group of prominent lawyers, including former governors and judges, urged the California bar on Monday to launch an investigation into John C. Eastman’s role in advising President Trump on how he could overturn his election defeat, including by having his vice president refuse to count the electoral votes in seven states won by President Biden. Eastman, a former law professor and dean at Chapman University in Orange County, emerged as a key legal advisor to Trump in the weeks after it was apparent he had been defeated in the November election. He wrote two legal memos that advised Vice President Mike Pence he could decide the results in several states were disputed and therefore that their electoral votes would go uncounted. Doing so would have turned Trump from a loser to the winner. Trump repeatedly pressed Pence to follow Eastman’s advice. But Pence understood correctly that the Constitution gave the the vice president a quite limited role. He presides in Congress on the day when the electoral votes are counted, but he has no role beyond opening the envelopes and announcing the state-by-state results. Despite Trump’s pressure, Pence decided he would follow the law, not the advice from Eastman.
California Governor Newsom signs bill to make voting by mail permanent in California | Emily Deruy/Marin Independent Journal
In a move that cements California’s future as a vote-by-mail state, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed a bill that makes permanent what Golden State voters experienced during the pandemic elections of 2020 and last month’s recall: Every active registered voter will receive a ballot in the mail for every election. Advocates hailed the new law — Assembly Bill 37 from Menlo Park Assemblymember Marc Berman — as a way to make it more convenient for people to vote, which could increase participation in elections. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least five other states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — already conduct elections by mail. California’s more permissive voting system stands in stark contrast to efforts in other states to tighten voting requirements. Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill passed by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature that included new ID mandates and banned around-the-clock early voting. Georgia recently passed a law requiring voters to provide their driver’s license number or other form of ID to get or return an absentee ballot. “As states across our country continue to enact undemocratic voter suppression laws, California is increasing voter access, expanding voting options and bolstering elections integrity and transparency,” Newsom said in a statement.
California: Is San Francisco’s elections director impeding voting machine progress? | Jeff Elder/The San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco has been locked into a monopolistic relationship with its voting machine vendor for years, preventing both competition and innovation, a grand jury and other experts have found. Yet this week The City’s top elections official pushed back on an offer of free help from a San Francisco nonprofit to explore new technology and bring much-needed competition. Longtime Elections Director John Arntz rebuffed the nonprofit, VotingWorks, at Wednesday’s Elections Commission meeting, saying, “We’re not looking to do a pilot program.” VotingWorks, a nonprofit that was developed in San Francisco’s Y Combinator startup incubator, has worked with the federal government’s main cybersecurity agency on election security projects, and is being used for elections in Mississippi, where the nonprofit journalism news agency ProPublica noted its “seamless performance.” Despite Arntz’s comments, records show that leaders including mayors and the president of the Board of Supervisors have called for voting machine pilot programs like this for a decade. In 2011, a city task force report on voting technology compiled for Mayor Ed Lee recommended a “policy of San Francisco to conduct pilot projects of alternative election technologies … such as using open source systems.”
In red California, recall backers fuel unfounded claims of ‘rigged’ voting, bait workers | Diana Marcum and Priscilla Vega/Los Angeles Times
The Central Valley has long been a stronghold for red California. And on Tuesday, there were loud voices of support for the recall while some election workers had to deal with taunts over unfounded conservative claims of election fraud. The neighborhood of Fig Garden Loop in Fresno is known for big houses and yards full of fruit trees. Old money. Old farmers and ranchers. The polling place was at a business called Elite Venues. After her shift, election supervisor Rebekah Doughty said her lip hurt from biting it so hard, as almost half the voters who came in were spoiling for a fight. “They walked in just baiting: ‘How many dead people are voting here?’” “They questioned the pens. They said the machines didn’t read our type of pens.” “They pointed to the Dominion machines and said they were the center of the fraud.”
California: False Election Claims in Recall Reveal a New G.O.P. Normal | Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times
The results of the California recall election won’t be known until Tuesday night. But some Republicans are already predicting victory for the Democrat, Gov. Gavin Newsom, for a reason that should sound familiar. Soon after the recall race was announced in early July, the embers of 2020 election denialism ignited into new false claims on right-wing news sites and social media channels. This vote, too, would supposedly be “stolen,” with malfeasance ranging from deceptively designed ballots to nefariousness by corrupt postal workers. As a wave of recent polling indicated that Mr. Newsom was likely to brush off his Republican challengers, the baseless allegations accelerated. Larry Elder, a leading Republican candidate, said he was “concerned” about election fraud. The Fox News commentators Tomi Lahren and Tucker Carlson suggested that wrongdoing was the only way Mr. Newsom could win. And former President Donald J. Trump predicted that it would be “a rigged election.” This swift embrace of false allegations of cheating in the California recall reflects a growing instinct on the right to argue that any lost election, or any ongoing race that might result in defeat, must be marred by fraud. The relentless falsehoods spread by Mr. Trump and his allies about the 2020 election have only fueled such fears.
California: Larry Elder prepares for recall loss with lawyers, voter fraud website | Lara Korte/The Sacramento Bee
With less than a week to go until the California recall election, some Republicans are falsely claiming that votes are rigged in favor of Democrats and suggesting, without evidence, that Gov. Gavin Newsom can only win with fraudulent votes. The claims are unsubstantiated, and echo similar false messages promoted by Republicans last year following the election of President Joe Biden. Larry Elder, the top-polling Republican candidate seeking to replace Newsom, is already preparing to challenge the recall results if Newsom survives. Elder told reporters in Los Angeles on Wednesday that he believes “there might very well be shenanigans” in the recall election, but that he expects to win anyway because “so many Californians are angry about what’s going on,” according to CNN. Elder said his campaign nevertheless is ready to file lawsuits and encouraged people to report any issues.
Editorial: California has a secure voting system — but more transparency wouldn’t hurt. Here’s why | Kim Alexander and Mike Alvarez/The Sacramento Bee
There is a growing chorus claiming that California’s recall election is not secure. Some claims come from people providing no evidence to back them up and no substantiation of fraud. Some come from people who question aspects of California’s election administration practices that they don’t understand (like the use of accessibility holes by some counties in ballot return envelopes to help guide low-vision voters to the signature box). Some are fueled by a dramatic incident where 300 ballots were found in a man’s car in Southern California, leading some to allege it was evidence that people are trying to steal the election (while this case is still under investigation, it appears likely the ballots were collateral damage in a case of attempted mail theft to rob people of checks, not ballots). Compared to other states, California makes it easy for people to vote. But making voting simple for eligible citizens is, in fact, a complex task for state and county election officials. Every county does things a little differently, from how they lay out their ballots and what their ballot return envelopes look like, to what kind of in-person voting options are available, whether it’s at neighborhood polling places or county-wide vote centers.
California: Security of some ballot-marking devices could be vulnerable in recall election, researchers say | John Myers/Los Angeles Times
A group of voting security researchers, alarmed by recent disclosure of sensitive election system software by an ally of former President Trump, want California officials to conduct a statewide post-election review of ballots cast in the Sept. 14 recall targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom. Their request, made just days before in-person voting begins in several counties, threatens to drag California into the tumultuous national debate over election security. “While the software versions are not identical to those used in California, differences are relatively minor,” the group said in its letter Thursday to Secretary of State Shirley Weber. “The release materially elevates threats to the trustworthiness of the ongoing California recall election and to public trust in the election.” The researchers who wrote to Weber acknowledged California’s strong record on election security. But they argued the public discussion of Dominion products by Mike Lindell, the chief executive of My Pillow and an informal advisor to Trump, was tantamount to a serious breach of election system security. Jenna Dresner, a spokeswoman for Weber, said Friday that the election systems used in California are secure and the state has launched a pilot program for risk-limiting audits with plans to expand the effort to all counties by 2023.
California: Experts call for rigorous audit to protect recall election | Christina A. Cassidy and Kate Brumback/Associated Press
A group of election security experts on Thursday called for a rigorous audit of the upcoming recall election for California’s governor after copies of systems used to run elections across the country were released publicly. Their letter sent to the secretary of state’s office urges the state to conduct a type of post-election audit that can help detect malicious attempts to interfere. The statewide recall targeting Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, set for Sept. 14, is the first election since copies of Dominion Voting Systems’ election management system were distributed last month at an event organized by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, an ally of former President Donald Trump who has made unsubstantiated claims about last year’s election. Election offices across 30 states use the Dominion system, including 40 counties in California. Election security experts have said the breaches, from a county in Colorado and another in Michigan, pose a heightened risk to elections because the system is used for a number of administrative functions — from designing ballots and configuring voting machines to tallying results. In the letter, the experts said they do not have evidence that anyone plans to attempt a hack of the systems used in California and are not casting blame on Dominion. “However, it is critical to recognize that the release of the Dominion software into the wild has increased the risk to the security of California elections to the point that emergency action is warranted,” the experts wrote in their letter, which was shared with The Associated Press. The eight experts signing the letter include computer scientists, election technology experts and cybersecurity researchers.
California: Latest Wave of Fake News Concerns Mail Ballot Fraud in Recall Election | Sameea Kamal/Times of San Diego
You’ve seen the posts on Twitter and Facebook, or maybe someone forwarded a WhatsApp message about suspicious activity with California’s recall ballots. Unfounded rumors about election security have always been around, but they’ve been rampant since the 2020 election and former President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” movement. Despite those allegations, the 2020 elections were found to be “the most secure in American history,” according to a statement from a coalition of government and election industry officials. Claims of fraud in California’s recall election have been amplified on social media by some recall supporters, as well by some of the candidates themselves, including Larry Elder, the Republican talk show host leading most polls. So ahead of the Sept. 14 election, state and county election officials are emphasizing transparency — including allowing observers to watch the vote count — and ramping up messages to combat disinformation. On television and social media, the secretary of state’s office is running spots about how votes are safeguarded, including independent testing, paper trails and audits. On Sept. 2, a group of election security experts urged California to conduct a thorough post-election audit because the recall is the first contest after copies of systems used to run elections were released publicly, the Associated Press reported.
A federal judge in Los Angeles on Friday refused to block the Sept. 14 recall election, which opponents had challenged on the grounds it violated constitutional guarantees of one person, one vote. U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald, an Obama appointee, said there was “nothing unconstitutional about placing in one ballot a vote for or against the recall of the governor and then a vote for a replacement candidate.” The lawsuit, filed by civil rights lawyer Stephen Yagman on behalf of a recall opponent, sought a court order blocking the election or requiring the ballot of replacement candidates to include Gov. Gavin Newsom. Under California’s recall rules, Newsom is not permitted to run as a replacement candidate, and he could be replaced by a candidate who received far fewer votes.
California: Dominion Voting Systems sues Santa Clara County to block release of public records | Dustin Manduffie/Courthouse News Service
Dominion Voting Systems claims they were forced to submit private financial information to Santa Clara County when applying for a contract to supply voting systems. That information is now at risk of being disclosed through the Freedom of Information Act and the California Privacy Rights Act. Dominion ultimately won the contract for up to eight years, with an option to renew for two additional two-year terms, but they now face the possibility that their financials will be splayed across the internet for all to see, according to a complaint filed by the company Thursday. The company initially rose to fame during the 2020 United States presidential election because of unproven allegations that they rigged their voting machines to favor Democratic candidate, and now president, Joe Biden. Since that time, Dominion has come under increased scrutiny by Republican politicians, prompting the records requests that led to Thursday’s lawsuit. Dominion claims as part of the process that led to their winning the contract, they had to send the county detailed financial documents, along with proprietary information “about the technical and functional components of their voting systems, as well as the personal identifying information of key employees.” That includes 47 pages of audited financial statements produced between 2015 and 2017 — each page of which was marked “Confidential & Proprietary — No Part of this Document May Be Disclosed or Copied,” according to the complaint.
California recall reality: Newsom could be replaced by candidate with far fewer votes | Maura Dolan/Los Angeles Times
For weeks, legal scholars have debated whether the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom could be found unconstitutional if Newsom failed to realize a “no recall” majority of the ballots cast and was ousted by a candidate who received fewer votes than he did. Although it’s impossible to predict how courts will rule, many experts say the current recall process has long survived legal challenges, and probably would again, even if a fringe candidate won on Sept. 14 and became governor with a minority of overall votes. That view is based on court decisions on election law, especially rulings stemming from the recall election of Gov. Gray Davis, when voters removed Davis in 2003 and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger, a popular actor who went on to win reelection. In that case, more people voted for Schwarzenegger than Davis so the candidate with the most votes won. Even so, California’s recall scheme permits a candidate with fewer votes to prevail over an incumbent, as was demonstrated by the state’s last successful recall of an elected legislator. In 2018, voters recalled Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton). On the recall question, 41.9% voted to retain Newman. On the second ballot question, in which voters are asked to select a successor, a Republican won with only 33.8% of the vote. An incumbent who faces a recall is not permitted to be named as a successor candidate on the second part of the ballot. “Maybe I should have been reinstated,” joked Newman, after reading a recent essay by legal scholars who helped spark the current debate by arguing that California’s recall law violated the federal Constitution.
California: Election officials ‘fast and furious’ as recall plans condense a year of prep into 70 days | Andie Judson/ABC10
Less than a year ago, the world waited with baited breath for the results of the 2020 presidential election. Now, just 10 months later, California is back in election season. And while it may feel all to familiar, this special election is one of few and far between. “We have not had a gubernatorial recall since 2003,” said Sacramento County spokesperson Janna Haynes. “That’s the only one we’ve had in the history of California.” 18 years later, Sacramento County is prepping for our state’s second recall election. “Normally at this time of the year, we’d already be preparing for our June Primary in 2022,” Haynes said. “So, we are working fast and furious.” Compared to a general election, California election’s offices have had a very short time to prepare since the recall was announced. Haynes said they traditionally take more than a year for election prep, but for this recall, they have 70 days. Between preparing ballots, filler pages, envelopes, voter files and logistics, it’s a heavy lift. But the two things that are making it simpler for Sacramento’s Elections Office is that there will only be around 30 in-person vote centers compared to the 84 last November. That means less staff and overall workflow for elections officials.
California recall candidate list draws confusion | Michael R. Blood and Kathleen Ronayne/Associated Press
The official list of who’s running in California’s recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom remained unsettled Sunday, with conservative talk radio host Larry Elder maintaining he should be included but state officials saying he submitted incomplete tax returns, a requirement to run. Elder’s next recourse is to go to court to get on the…
California will hold a recall election Sept. 14 that could remove first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office. The date was set by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a Democrat and Newsom ally, after election officials certified that enough valid petition signatures had been turned in to qualify the election for the ballot. Republicans are hoping for an upset in a heavily Democratic state where the GOP hasn’t won a statewide election since 2006. The election will be watched nationally as a barometer of the public mood heading toward the 2022 elections, when a closely divided Congress again will be in play. Here’s how it works. California is one of 20 states that have provisions to remove a sitting governor in a recall, 19 of them through elections. The state law establishing the rules goes back to 1911 and was intended to place more power directly in the hands of voters by allowing them to recall elected officials and repeal or pass laws by placing them on the ballot. Recall attempts are common in the state, but they rarely get on the ballot and even fewer succeed. However, in 2003, Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was recalled and replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Full Article: EXPLAINER: How California could recall its governor
California’s recall election will cost $276 million, recall date set for Sept. 14 | Michael R. Blood and Kathleen Ronayne/Associated Press
California on Thursday scheduled a Sept. 14 recall election that could drive Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, the result of a political uprising largely driven by angst over state coronavirus orders that shuttered schools and businesses and upended life for millions of Californians. The election in the nation’s most populous state will be a marquee contest with national implications, watched closely as a barometer of the public mood heading toward the 2022 elections, when a closely divided Congress again will be in play. The date was set by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, a Democrat, after election officials certified that enough valid petition signatures had been turned in to qualify the election for the ballot. The announcement will set off a furious, 10-week burst of campaigning through the California summer, a time when voters typically are ignoring politics to enjoy vacationing, backyard barbecuing and travel. Many voters have yet to pay attention to the emerging election, while polls have shown Newsom would beat back the effort to remove him. Republicans haven’t won a statewide race in heavily Democratic California since 2006. Republican candidates have depicted Newsom as an incompetent fop whose bungled leadership inflicted unnecessary financial pain statewide, while Democrats have sought to frame the contest as driven by far-right extremists and supporters of former President Donald Trump.
California: Future of Los Angeles County election recounts could hinge on Long Beach Measure A lawsuit | Hayley Munguia/Long Beach Press Telegram
A lawsuit over the scrapped effort to recount the results of Long Beach’s Measure A election last March — which could determine how LA County handles future recount elections — is set to head to trial. The ballot measure, which passed by 16 votes out of nearly 100,000 votes cast, indefinitely extended the 10-year, 10.25% city sales tax that voters passed in 2016. The Long Beach Reform Coalition, a group that opposed the measure and argued throughout the campaign that the city had not been a good steward of the money it received from the tax already, sought a recount of the election given its razor-thin margin. But the process, members of the group have said, was far more expensive and less transparent than the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office initially claimed. A spokesperson for the Registrar-Recorder said the office cannot comment on pending litigation, but attorneys for Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan wrote in recent court filings that every aspect of the recount process was conducted lawfully. The recount in question began April 8, 2020, but Ian Patton — a representative of the Long Beach Reform Coalition who officially requested it — had to cancel the effort after less than a week because of the high costs. The organization has claimed the county’s process has effectively barred the public from being able to have full confidence in the election results. So the Long Beach Reform Coalition sued Logan last May, seeking a full, manual recount of the election at the initial estimated costs and for the county to change its ballot-sorting and -counting process moving forward. The lawsuit will go to trial on Wednesday, July 7.
California: Federal judge tosses local lawsuit that echoed Trump claims of election fraud | Brooke Staggs/Orange County Register
A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit filed by California Republicans that echoed false allegations made by former President Donald Trump about the validity of the 2020 election. The lawsuit, filed in January by a conservative election watchdog group and 10 failed GOP congressional candidates against a slew of state and county elections officials, claimed the November election in California was rife with “mass irregularities and opportunities for fraud.” The plaintiffs argued that such conditions have been brewing in California for years, but were exacerbated by changes made last year to make sure all voters in the state had access to a ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic. But those arguments, similar to claims made in dozens of other lawsuits disputing the 2020 election, were rejected. Federal Judge Andre Birotte wrote in a 13-page ruling published Tuesday that the plaintiffs didn’t offer concrete evidence that problems affected the outcome of California’s November elections. Birotte also said he agreed with the defendants’ statement that the lawsuit amounted to “an incremental undermining of confidence in the election results, past and future.”
California: ‘They’re really on a rampage’: Departing San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder reflects on election conspiracies, racism | Lindsey Holden/San Luis Obispo Tribune
In a surprise move, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong on Friday announced he’s resigning his position and leaving the area — exactly one month after enduring hours of election misinformation and racism at a Board of Supervisors meeting. Gong, the first Asian American elected to countywide office, will move to Contra Costa County in July to start a new job as a deputy clerk-recorder. On Friday, he told The Tribune the decision to leave was primarily motivated by a desire to be closer to family in the Bay Area, although attacks on his office following the 2020 election “probably played a factor” in his choice. Prior to making his exit public, Gong sat down with The Tribune to discuss the impacts of election conspiracy-mongering and anti-Asian racism and how his office can move forward and instill faith in the county’s voting system. … During the meeting, one caller made an explicitly racist comment asking if Gong is “a member of the Chinese Communist Party.” “It was interesting because we were hearing all of the scripted comments and everything, and your mind kind of goes numb as you’re listening,” Gong said. “That one did stick out, I will say. I was like, ‘Did I hear that right?’ You know, (it) was a little surprising. And my staff was with me, and it was like, ‘Oh yeah, wow.’” Gong grew up outside of Modesto, where his family ran a local chain of grocery stores. When he was going into kindergarten, Gong’s mother warned him that children may “call you names” or make racist comments. Hearing the racism at the meeting made Gong think back to that time.
The Big Lie — the fiction that the 2020 election was riddled with fraud, costing President Trump a second term — has spread like a cancer. In Phoenix, Republican state lawmakers caved to the GOP’s lunatic wing and approved a harebrained canvass of Maricopa County ballots. Emboldened Trump backers are now challenging election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. (Not that it will change anything.) In California, the nuttiness has spread to San Luis Obispo County, the midpoint between San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the denialism took an ugly, racist turn. President Biden easily defeated Trump in the county, 55% to 42%, a margin of nearly 21,000 votes. That’s no cliffhanger. “Joe Biden won the election,” county Supervisor John Peschong states without equivocation. He’s no Democratic shill. His Republican credentials include service in the Reagan White House and decades as a GOP campaign strategist. Biden’s victory was also confirmed by a partial hand recount, a standard practice under California law. Still, at a board of supervisors Zoom meeting in early May, nearly 150 people pressed baseless assertions of fraud and questioned the use of Dominion voting machines. The technology firm has faced some of the more fantastical claims by Trump and his sympathizers. Many protesters expressed doubt their votes were counted, or claimed balloting machines were manipulated to change results.
California: The Newsom recall could cost $400 million. Who pays for it? | John Myers/Los Angeles Times
It’s well known that elections have consequences. They also have price tags. With signs pointing to a special election this fall at which voters could remove Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, local officials from across California believe the cost of conducting the election could run as high as $400 million. The estimate is four to five times higher than rough guesses bandied about in recent months and is equal to a cost of about $18 per registered voter — more than double what local elections officials say was spent on California elections in 2018. It’s a price they say counties, which are struggling to cover pandemic-related costs for health and human services programs, will need the state to cover. “There is an urgency to this,” said Donna Johnston, the registrar of voters in Sutter County and president of the California Assn. of Clerks and Elected Officials. Johnston’s group bases its $400-million estimate on a preliminary tally of costs from the November 2020 election, for which every registered voter was mailed a ballot and in-person voting was subject to strict rules designed to minimize the risk of coronavirus infections.
California’s elections are free, fair, and secure, but the state can do more to improve its election infrastructure, the state’s independent government watchdog recommends in a new report. In California Election Infrastructure: Making a Good System Better, the Little Hoover Commission recommends creation of an open source voting system and the statewide use of risk-limiting audits. “The 2020 election was the most secure election in history,” says Chair Pedro Nava. “But California cannot be complacent and should take steps to improve its election infrastructure in order to keep up with evolving technology and knowledge.” The Commission held a hearing on this topic in 2019 and released a letter to the Governor and legislative leadership to consider important questions related to elections security, such as the need for funding to improve equipment. This report builds on the Commission’s past work and adds specific policy recommendations. In its report, the Commission finds that California relies on a for-profit model for election equipment security. The Commission recommends that the state develop and adopt an open source elections system, which would be more transparent, save money, increase versatility for counties, and aligns with a state goal to use open source software across government.
If all politics is truly local, it should be huge news when someone like Kammi Foote decides enough is enough. As the registrar of voters for Inyo County, Foote spent 14 years on democracy’s front lines in a job that is equal parts educator and administrator. California gives wide latitude to its 58 counties in how to run elections, and a corps of veteran registrars call the shots across the state. But something has changed. Registrars with decades of experience are calling it quits, stymied by the ever-growing list of election mandates that come without the funding to make them a reality — made worse by the personal and professional threats made by voters amped up on partisan rage and destructive conspiracy theories. Now, months before a likely recall election followed by the 2022 campaign season where political maps will be redrawn and voters will need help navigating the changes, California finds itself in the midst of an election officer exodus. Foote stepped down Friday as Inyo’s chief elections officer, the eighth registrar across California to resign since last November’s election. At least one more registrar is expected to resign in the coming weeks. Some have been on the job for almost three decades. “I think, if anything, it’s just a sense of being worn down and tired,” Foote said about her decision to leave. “In 2020, we found ourselves working seven days a week, months on end, under tremendous pressure.”
Kammi Foote, Inyo County California Clerk/Recorder/Registrar of Voters, is leaving office. | Charles James/Sierra Wave
Kammi Foote announced her resignation effective Friday, April 9 to the Inyo County Board of Supervisors at their regular Tuesday virtual meeting. Foote has been with the county for almost twenty years, the last ten years in elected office as the Inyo County Clerk/ Recorder/Registrar of Voters Office.
California: After Historic Election, Legislators Consider Keeping Voting Changes | Guy Marzorati/KQED
California’s 2020 election was marked by historic levels of voter participation amid rapid changes in the voting process. The COVID-19 pandemic spurred state lawmakers to broaden voting options in the name of safety. For the first time, every voter was mailed a ballot, while early voting was expanded and polling places were abandoned in favor of countywide voting locations. In a report released Wednesday, the National Vote at Home Institute gave California its highest score, praising the state for policy changes implemented in 2020. “They did achieve monumental success in terms of the adjustments while dealing with the pandemic,” said Amber McReynolds, the institute’s CEO. Now, lawmakers in Sacramento have to figure out which changes to keep. That work begins on Thursday, when the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee is set to consider legislation that would extend the state’s universal vote-by-mail provisions for another year. That would cover special elections (and any potential recall election) held in 2021.
California: FBI, Sacramento-area law enforcement prepare for possible violence at Capitol | Sam Stanton/The Sacramento Bee
Federal law enforcement officials, hate-crime specialists and social media platforms are warning of the possibility of nationwide attacks at state capitols and in Washington, D.C., in the days leading up to the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. One federal law enforcement source said Monday that authorities had no specific information about planned activities at California’s state Capitol, where weekly protests have been staged since election day by supporters of President Donald Trump and his false claims that voter fraud cost him the White House. But the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, confirmed to The Sacramento Bee that FBI field offices nationwide have been alerted to the possibility of violence through Inauguration Day and have set up command posts to interact with state and local law enforcement, including the California Highway Patrol, which has jurisdiction over the state Capitol. “The CHP is all over this,” the source said. “The bottom line is, certainly law enforcement is all over this and will be prepared.” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the Capitol has “a heightened, heightened level of security” and that a decision on whether to activate the National Guard would be made “as needed.” “Everybody is on a high alert in terms of making sure that everybody is safe and protected,” Newsom said. “People’s free speech can be advanced, but there’s no violence.”
California: Voting Issues in Alameda County Raise Questions About Election Management | Guy Marzorati/KQED
It was mid-morning on Election Day when Julie Mendel, a poll worker at a voting location at Mills College in Oakland, realized that something had gone horribly wrong. A voter had approached her with a printout from a ballot-marking device, a machine that spits out a voter’s choices onto a piece of paper (the voter’s ballot) after they have made their selections on a touchscreen. The voter then submits the ballot into a collection bag. For more than three days of voting, Mendel and her fellow poll workers had told voters that the piece of paper was a receipt, with the actual votes submitted electronically though the machine. She had heard the guidance from a higher-ranking poll worker at the location, and never questioned it until she looked closely at the piece of paper the man was showing her. It read ‘Official Ballot.’ “We felt really awful just about the possibility that we had told these people to walk away with their votes uncast,” said Mendel. For the rest of the day, Mendel and other poll workers scrambled to contact the Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office, trying in vain to get clear guidance and help correcting their error.
How California reached historic voter turnout despite pandemic, distrust | Lewis Griswold/CalMatters
Californians faced the naysayers and voted by mail in record numbers this election, potentially avoiding a pandemic super spreader event and showing the nation it could be done. CalMatters interviewed voting officials in most of the state’s 58 counties and their verdict is in: The experiment with voting by mail saw few glitches, little drama and, instead, might well provide a blueprint for future elections across the country. Indeed, state officials are already talking about plans to make voting by mail permanent for the biggest state in the union and its 22 million registered voters. Besides the unprecedented challenge of conducting the election in a pandemic, voting officials also had to deal with a deep, partisan divide that helped to fuel widespread misinformation about election security. Yet by the time polls closed at 8 p.m. Nov. 3, voter registrars say they had little need for law enforcement help and reported insignificant incidents affecting ballot safety. They reported historic numbers of ballots cast, about 17.6 million at last count, and almost 208,000 more still to process as of 5 p.m. Monday.
California: Hawthorne men accused in voter fraud plot to obtain 8,000 mail ballots for ‘nonexistent or deceased’ persons | James Queally/Los Angeles Times
As judges around the U.S. continue to dismiss claims of voter fraud by President Trump and his supporters, prosecutors and election officials in Los Angeles County said Tuesday that they had uncovered evidence of an actual attempt to fix an election — albeit a small, local one. Carlos Antonio De Bourbon Montenegro, 53, and Marcos Raul Arevalo, 34, were charged with multiple counts of voter fraud after allegedly trying to register 8,000 “fictitious, nonexistent or deceased” voters to receive mail-in ballots. The scheme was part of an illicit bid by Montenegro to become mayor of Hawthorne, according to a criminal complaint made public Tuesday. Montenegro and Arevalo allegedly used three recently registered post office boxes and Montenegro’s home address to submit the fraudulent applications, which allowed election officials to quickly flag them as suspicious in mid-October, according to Dean Logan, the county’s top election official. While court records show at least 29 mail-in ballots were issued to people Montenegro and Arevalo had allegedly ginned up, none of the ballots were tallied in the general election, Logan said. The case, he added, highlights how difficult it would be to carry out the widespread voter fraud President Trump and others have claimed was rampant in the 2020 election. “What this does is it illustrates that election officials here as well as across the country take these issues very seriously. This was 8,000 registrations in a jurisdiction that has 5.8 million voters,” said Logan, noting that the fraud narratives being pushed across the country would have required election officials to fail to notice misconduct on a massively larger scale.