ne part of the story of the 2012 voting wars is well known: Republican legislatures have passed a series of laws making it at least modestly harder for people to vote. These GOP-inspired rules have included limits on early voting, stricter rules for voter registration, and new voter ID laws to stamp out unproven allegations of voter fraud. Less well-known is that courts have reined in some of these excesses, including a decision to block Texas’s stringent voter ID law, an injunction putting Pennsylvania’s voter ID law on hold for this election, and a settlement blocking the worst of Florida’s voter registration hurdles. The judicial record has been decidedly mixed. The Pennsylvania law will likely be approved by the 2014 elections, courts have allowed Republican secretaries of state to pursue purges of noncitizens from voting rolls despite ample evidence that the lists erroneously included many eligible voters, and federal courts recently refused to roll back Texas’ tough new voter registration rules.
Twelve years after a too-close-to-call presidential contest imploded in a hail of Florida punch card ballots and a bitter 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling for George W. Bush, the country’s voting systems remain as deeply flawed as ever with any prospect of fixing them mired in increasing levels of partisanship. The most recent high-profile fights have been about voter identification requirements and whether they are aimed at stopping fraud or keeping minority group members and the poor from voting. But there are worse problems with voter registration, ballot design, absentee voting and electoral administration. In Ohio, the recommendations of a bipartisan commission on ways to reduce the large number of provisional ballots and long lines at polling stations in 2008 have come to naught after a Republican takeover of both houses of the legislature in 2010. In New York, a redesign of ballots that had been widely considered hard to read and understand was passed by the State Assembly this year. But a partisan dispute in the Senate on other related steps led to paralysis. And states have consistently failed to fix a wide range of electoral flaws identified by a bipartisan commission led by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III in 2005. In Florida, for example, the commission found 140,000 voters who had also registered in four other states — some 46,000 of them in New York City alone. When 1,700 of them registered for absentee ballots in the other state, no one investigated. Some 60,000 voters were also simultaneously registered in North and South Carolina.
The early years of Diamond Bar cityhood were contentious as those favoring strict limitation of development clashed with those favoring granting city council with more flexibility in planning land use. In 1992 and again in 1993, the City Council revised and adopted two General Plans presented by citizen advisory committees. Both rescinded by referendum, Diamond Bar’s early distinction included holding the state record for being incorporated without an accepted General Plan.
“The City of Diamond Bar is almost 6 years old now…That doesn’t mean the City Council has to Act that way” was the headline on a Diamond Bar Caucus 1995 campaign flyer endorsing Bob Huff and Carol Herrera. With conflicting visions of how the city should mature, the 1995 election cycle brought out 11 candidates vying for two city council seats, including one held by Phyllis Papen, who would not be re-elected.
Planning Commissioner Bob Huff surpassed the other candidates at the polls. The vote spread for the second seat between Carol Herrera and Don Schad was close, fluctuated, and involved litigation that did not end until May of the following year. Herrera remembers on election night, she was down by six votes. The absentee ballots added in, she was ahead by 12. Schad requested a recount. Herrera could have chosen a hand recount, but she was concerned with the additional cost and believed the recount by machine would provide equitable results.