Strong Statement, in Wake of Lawsuit Tossed on 'Jurisdictional Grounds', a First Since Illegally Adminstered June 6th U.S. House Special Election!
'North County Times' Provides Decent Coverage of Debacle...
By Brad Friedman on 8/30/2006, 7:30am PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

"It's outrageous," says Francine Busby, "that this judge just said the state of California doesn't have jurisdiction over our own elections, over this election."

Busby's remarks, in a report today by William Finn Bennett in the North County Times, were a suprising departure from her previously guarded stance concerning the challenge of the June 6th U.S. House Special Election between herself and Brian Bilbray.

"What happened today should be of concern to all voters," Busby reportedly said.

Bennett's coverage of yesterday's debacle in the San Diego County courtroom where Judge Yuri Hoffman dismissed the election contest in support of the defendants' arguments that the U.S. House, not the voters or courts of California, have jurisdication to adjudicate election challenges after the House has already seated a member, is quite good. Indeed, it was a refreshing departure from previous sloppy, sometimes wholly inaccurate and occassionally entirely partisan North County Times reports and commentary on the case (see this embarrasing commentary from Jim Trageser for the most egregious.)

Bennett's report today, on the other hand, quite fairly describes the court's atrocious decision which we reported on in detail yesterday. Here's a sample from his coverage...

Just a few days after the election, the California secretary of state's office notified the office of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., that it was OK to seat Bilbray, based on an unofficial count showing Bilbray with a lead of about 5,000 votes over Democrat Francine Busby.

Hastert then swore in Bilbray as the new congressman, despite the fact that the election results had yet to be certified.

As Judge Yuri Hofmann found that once the House had rushed to swear in Bilbray, just seven days after the election, and a full 16 days prior to certification, only a federal election challenge could be brought. The federal statute requires, unlike the provision for contests in California state law, that such a suit must be brought by a candidate. The contest in San Diego was brought on behalf of two citizen voters. It was done so in accordance with the California state election code which, apparently, has no meaning whatsoever, according to Hofmann's decision.

In a brief phone interview Tuesday, Busby said that she was not aware of the federal statute that would have allowed her to file a protest with the House of Representatives.

But the judge's decision was wrong, she said.

"It's outrageous that this judge just said the state of California doesn't have jurisdiction over our own elections, over this election," Busby said. "What happened today should be of concern to all voters."

The contest was brought after The BRAD BLOG originally revealed on June 7th that the Diebold voting machines used in the election were sent home with poll workers by San Diego County Registar of Voters, Mikel Haas in the days and weeks prior to the election. Such voting machine "sleepovers" are in direct contravention of new security requirements at both the state and federal level. The new security mitigation requirements were issued in February and March of this year after discoveries of dozens of ways in which these particular voting systems could be hacked with just two minutes of unsupervised access to the systems --- no password necessary.

In the wake of the revelations of Haas' security violations, which resulted in effectively-decertified voting systems being used for the "bellwether" special election, a request to hand count the election was filed by a voter in the California's 50th district, also according to state election code. That request, however, was stymied by Registrar Haas who capriciously attempted to charge nearly a dollar per vote (versus just .14 per vote for such a recount in neighboring Orange County). Haas also refused to produce chain of custody documents for both ballots and voting machines.

Public records requests have since revealed that such chain of custody documents may not exist at all --- a violation of election codes. However, Hofmann's dismissal of the case will make it all the more difficult, if not impossible, to explore the actual merits of the case brought by the plaintiffs.

Conveniently enough, as Finn mentioned in his report on the judge's dismissal of the case, "Neither Bilbray nor Haas could be reached for comment late Tuesday."

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