Monday, November 20, 2006

SD 34: My Post Mortem

Before I begin, let me give you the final update:

STATE SENATOR, 34th District
Completed Precincts: 377 of 377
Vote Count Percentage
LOU CORREA (DEM) 56270 50.2%
LYNN DAUCHER (REP) 54968 49.0%
OTTO BADE 910 0.8%

Lou is now beating Lynn by 1,302 votes. This margin is more than the total number of votes that Otto Bade received... And this margin is large enough to where Lynn couldn't possibly win in a recount. I am genuinely thrilled that Lou Correa looks to have won this election, and that he will soon to be on his way to Sacramento to represent my community in the Legislature, I am also disappointed that the cloud of scandal may continue to linger over us here in Central Orange County. Though Lou Correa won this election fair and square, some Republicans will likely point to the actions of a few well-connected "Correa Supporters" and claim that they "stole the election from Lynn Daucher". While I disagree that the election was stolen, I must also agree that these purported "Correa Supporters" did not exactly conduct their "Californians United" independent expenditure operation in the most ethical of manners.

Now of course, the Californians United operation was behind the decoy campaign of "Conservative Write-in" candidate Otto Bade. And yes, I must agree with the critics that the folks behind the Californians United trickery did a sleazy act by convincing Otto Bade to run as the "Independent Republican/Conservative". While their Californians United trick wasn't illegal, it was definitely unethical... And if anything, they hurt Lou Correa here! They tarnished his image by inviting folks to alege that Lou was involved with their foul play (and he clearly wasn't)! They gave folks the false impression that Lou was "just another sleazy politician", who was willing to do anything to win. This is not true... My dad and I have spoken with Lou on several occasions, and we are convinced that Lou Correa will serve us well as our next State Senator.

Personally, I think that the Otto Bade trickery undermined the direct efforts of Lou's campaign to reach out to the voters in the 34th in a positive way. I had walked with many of the local students, and I was heart-warmed by their dedication to their community, as well as their dedication to helping Lou win this election. And of course, while walking I've talked to many of my neighbors in Santa Ana. Many of them supported Lou because they know that he actually cares about the well-being of our communities, and has worked hard to bring money home to keep our neighborhoods safe, make our parks beautiful again, and improve our schools. This was the message that the Correa campaign focused on spreading... Not that Otto Bade is "more conservative" than Lynn Daucher. This was the message that was nearly drowned out by the stupid scandal over who was really behind Otto Bade.

Of course, it's not as if the Republicans conducted a completely ethical campaign either! Remember, after all, that it was the Republicans who illegally switched between 100 and 500 Democratic and Independent voters to Republican. Of course, it was also the Republican Candidate in the overlapping 47th Congressional District, Tan Nguyen, who sent the infamous "Immigrants Can't Vote" intimidation letter to over 14,000 legal registered voters. Oh yes, and it was Republican Lynn Daucher who "moved" from her Brea residence to a Fullerton apartment early this year in order to claim residency in the 34th State Senate District... While Lou Correa has lived in Central Orange County for all 42 years of his life, and has been active in the community here for many years, Lynn Daucher hardly "lived" here 42 weeks before Election Day! Of course, these works of Republican trickery were not excuses for the Californians United operation... This is simply my way of putting things back into perspective here. Before the Republicans start accusing us of malfeasance, they should deal with the severely unethical (and in the cases of the voter registration scandal and the Tan Nguyen letter, truly illegal) acts in their own party.

Oh yes, and while we're speaking about illegal acts, what about failures of the Orange County Registrar of Voters and the County Government? If only to exacerbate a problematic campaign, the County could not even run the actual election properly! For starters, there were neither enough working machines nor paper ballots for all these people to vote. This was a clear violation of Section 14102 of the California Election code, which states that “for every election, the elections official shall provide a sufficient number of official ballots in each precinct to reasonably meet the needs of the voters in that precinct on election day using the precinct’s voter turnout history as the criterion, but in no case shall this number be less than 75 percent of registered voters for the precinct.”. In numerous polling places throughout Orange County, some of the eSlate voting machines had broken down... And in other polling places where all of the machines were working, they were still not enough because the polling places were serving combined precincts. However, paper ballots were not always offered when requested, since the poll workers were told not to offer paper ballots, which was because none of the precincts had enough paper ballots. So instead, these poor folks had to wait in line for hours... And remember that we're talking about working-class voters in SD 34 who couldn't afford to spend hours in line.

Oh yes, and this reminds me of another election law that was violated on the 7th, Section 14229 of the California Election Code, which states, If a precinct board is unable to furnish a ballot to a qualified voter, because there is an insufficient number of ballots at the precinct, the elections official shall deliver to the precinct additional ballots to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballots by 10 p.m. on election day.” I know this didn't happen, because the final voter in Santa Ana had to cast her ballot at 10:20 PM! What happened on Election Day? Why the massive machine failures? Why the lack of paper ballots? Why the long wait, simply to vote? At best, the Orange County Registrar was criminally negligent in its duty to ensure that all legal voters are able to exercise their right to vote. At worst, well, I don't even want to imagine!

While I'm glad to see that Lou Correa will be my next State Senator, I hope that the "Correa Supporters" behind the Californians United operation do not attempt to "help" him again with their dirty tricks! I hope that the Republicans will no longer resort to dirty tricks, such as illegal party switching and intimidation letters, in order to help their candidates. I really hope that the Orange County Registrar of Voters cleans up its act, and begins to work with our incoming Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, to insure that no legal voter is disenfranchised. Is it really too much to ask that next time around, we actually have legal voter registration drives, honest and ethically-run independent expenditures, letters encouraging people to vote, and a County Registrar that actually ensures that every legal voter can vote?

No comments: