By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2013, 4:29pm PT  

Earlier this year, The BRAD BLOG offered an exclusive exposé on how one Registrar of Voters in Fresno County, CA almost single-handedly put a stop to the attempted statewide post-election hand-count of last November's failed Prop 37 (the ballot initiative which, if it had prevailed, would have required Genetically Modified Foods to be labeled as such when sold on store shelves.)

The count was stopped by the outrageous, seemingly arbitrary, and almost certainly illegal cost being charged for the hand-count, as solely determined by Fresno County's Registrar Brandi Orth. (She was attempting to charge some $4,000/day to hand count ballots in her county, versus $600/day in Orange County and $500/day in Sierra County, where the Prop 37 proponents had already been able to successfully hand-count ballots in their attempt to authenticate the computer-reported results in those counties.)

At the time, we pointed out the need for standardized pricing for such post-election counts in California (and anywhere else where that is not already the practice) in order to keep Registrar's from inappropriately using, or appearing to use, their extraordinary power to block such post-election initiatives with the arbitrary pricing for "recounts".

A few weeks later, we highlighted another case where a post-election contest in California was called off, this time a race for Mayor in Stanislaus County's town of Riverbank, when the Registrar there had been charging what amounted to some $2,000 an hour to the candidate who was reported by the computer count to have lost her election by just 53 votes.

Now, Bev Harris of Black Box Voting offers an interesting, amusing, and maddening short tale that dovetails with both of those stories: An election itself that seems to have been blocked --- one that would have determined the balance of power on the Riverbank City Council (the very same city where the Mayoral hand-count was recently called off) --- because the price being charged to the City Council by the Stanislaus County Registrar (the very same Registrar who was charging the candidate $2,000/hour for the Mayoral "recount" there), was exorbitant, and, once accepted anyway, was a day late for the state deadline, according to the County.

"Stanislaus County first quoted the ridiculous fee to hold the election," Harris told me, "and when Riverbank agreed to move ahead, Stanislaus County then said it was too late to do so, by one day." In this case, keeping the City Council from holding their election at all, had they not found a workaround (in this case, contracting a private firm to hold the election, rather than relying on the County, and hand-counting the single race election, rather than computer-tallying it), would have had serious political repercussions for the town.

See Bev's story for the full details, on what the City Council in the 4 square mile town has decided to do in order to fill their vacant seat to end an existing 2-2 deadlock on the Council --- and how the entire matter might well be blamed on the town's White boys...

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