Registrar Mikel Haas's Promise to Defy the SoS and NOT Count Paper Ballots Until Thursday Moves Forward... Helping to Fund Appeal
By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2006, 9:18pm PT  

The lawsuit brought last week in San Diego to force Registrar Mikel Haas to obey an order from the Secretary of State's office that paper ballots should be counted as "normal ballots" was denied in San Diego Superior Court today.

The writ, originally filed in Appeals Court last week, was denied on jurisdictional grounds and refiled in the Superior Court. Due to time constraints at that point, the section of the complaint seeking to stop voting machine "sleepovers" (which have now been ongoing for a full three weeks in the county) was dropped when the case was re-filed.

The denial today, which had also sought to force Haas to inform San Diego voters at the polls of their right to vote on a paper ballot, will be appealed, according to Carlsbad, CA, attorney Ken Simpkins. Election Integrity organization' Strike Force continues to raise money to fund such court actions, as it did with the original filing and several others --- including the contested Francine Busby/Brian Bilbray special U.S. House election last Summer.

I spoke with Simpkins earlier today about the court ruling and the judge who didn't seem to understand the differences between provisional, absentee and "normal ballots." Paper ballots, requested by any California voter, are supposed to be counted as "normal ballots" on election night, according to a memo from the CA SoS.

As time is way short for me right now, here's a quick transcript of my notes of the conversation I had with Simpkins, describing the judge, who reportedly made his feelings known early on during the questioning when he referred to E-Voting as "the appropriate wave of the future"...

Got in there [Superior Court] at 8:30am this morning, and nobody seemed to know about the writ or when it would be heard.

Someone got the judge on the phone, and a staffer reported that he said originally 'I'm not gonna hear the writ today and I'm not gonna recuse myself.'

I go to the residing judge's office and told the story. A few minutes later I'm told "we just heard from Vargas's dept. and he decided to hear the writ at 10:30 am"

At the hearing: Judge entertained about 20 mins of oral argument.

Would not concede that counting paper ballots on the Thursday after the election (while "counting" the machine votes on Election night) was an equal protection issue.

His questions made clear that, in his mind, "as long as the ballots are being counted at all, there's no equal protection issue." To him, "a provisional ballot was the same as an absentee ballot which was the same as paper ballots" at the polls as ordered by the SoS to be counted as "a normal ballot" (as opposed to an absentee or provisional which is checked for validity first before being counted or not).

Judge just seemed to not understand that by counting the paper ballots on Thursday, instead of on Election Night as "normal ballots" [San Diego County Registrar Mikel] Haas has created a new class of ballots. And that you can't discriminate against those ballots.

You could tell by the judge's questions from the beginning where he was going. He was talking about these electronic voting machines as "the appropriate wave of the future."

The whole thing was just somewhat surreal.

An emailer from San Diego, who was in the gallery sends this tonight...

I was also in the gallery and the judge kept confusing absentee ballots, where the signature has to be verified before the ballot can be counted, with paper ballots cast at the polls, where the voter has already signed the voter registration book before being allowed to cast a vote and no further signature verification is required. Obviously it takes much longer to verify signatures than to just run ballots through scanners.

It appears that the judge did not happen to see the HBO special, "Hacking Democracy," and is not aware that Diebold doesn't always tell the truth, and that elections officials don't always comply with the law.

In this case, Haas has said that that he cannot comply with the Secretary of State's directives to make paper ballots available to any voter who wants one, and to treat them as normal ballots, because Haas believes it would be "inconvenient" for him to do that.

I've already chipped in $100 and I'm hoping for a miracle--that this decision can be appealed and possibly even reversed.

It will be appealed. And you can chip in as well. It'd be appreciated.

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