Now-Former Monterey County, CA Registrar of Voters, Tony 'Trust Me' Anchundo, Told Brad on Air that Voters Need to 'Have Trust and Faith' in Election Officials...
He Now Faces Charges of Forgery, Misapplication of Funds, Embezzlement, Falsification of Accounts and Grand Theft to the Tune of $70,000...
By Brad Friedman on 7/11/2006, 8:05am PT  
"There is obviously going to have to be some trust and faith in the elections official, or in this case, it's me."
-- Then Monterey County, CA Registrar of Voters, Tony Anchundo on the Peter B. Collins radio show, 10/24/05

"Anchundo to face 43 criminal charges
DA: Ex-registrar spent $70,000 on personal purchases"

-- Headline of the Salinas Californian, 7/6/06

The astute BRAD BLOG reader may recall my appearance on the Peter B. Collins show last October when the good Peter B. had invited Monterey County, CA Registrar of Voters Tony Anchundo into the studio to demonstrate the county's brand-spankin' new Sequoia touch-screen voting machines that were slated for first time use in last November's special election.

That interview, both audio and complete text transcript, is right here...

After Anchundo's in-studio demo of how the new system is supposed to work, I pressed Anchundo to find out whether or not he actually intended to count the virtually uncountable "toilet-paper roll" voter-verified paper trails created by the Sequoia machines or if he would rely on the machine count. He committed on air that the county had planned to count "100%" of those paper trails.

Incredulous, but nonethless happy to have that promise on-air and on-the-record, I asked which count would be the official count in the case of a discrepancy; the paper count or the machine count. He said we'd have to trust him to make the best decision at the time. "Faith-based voting," in other words.

While I was skeptical that he'd even be able to count those paper trails at all --- or even that it could be done in reality, even if they'd wanted to --- he promised to come back to the show after the election to report on how the 100% count went and which count they ended up using.

Weeks and months went by and Peter B. and his producer attempted to book Anchundo, the 13-year Registrar, for the promised follow-up. It seemed the office was not eager to return calls or book a return appearance.

Then last April, Anchundo suddenly and mysteriously resigned --- just six weeks before the California primary elections --- leaving county officials "stunned", as the Monterey Herald reported it at the time.

And then finally, last Friday, a caller to Peter B.'s show, during my regular weekly appearance there, gave us a tip to this report from the Salinas Californian...

Anchundo to face 43 criminal charges
DA: Ex-registrar spent $70,000 on personal purchases

By CHRISTOPHER ORTIZ
The Salinas Californian

The Monterey County District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday it has filed 43 criminal charges against former Registrar of Voters Tony Anchundo, saying he spent more than $70,000 on personal purchases using county-issued credit cards, then tried to cover his tracks.

The charges include 25 counts of forgery, 14 counts of misapplication of funds, three counts of embezzlement and falsification of accounts by a public officer and one count of grand theft.

If found guilty on all charges, Anchundo could face 12 years in jail.

More details at the Californian, but all I can say is: "Trust and faith in the elections officials,"...indeed, Mr. Anchundo. A picture perfect lesson in why no elections officials should ever be trusted.

Just ask the heroic and legendary Ion Sancho, Election Director of Leon County, FL who said in a speech last May: "Trust no one. If it can't be verified, it can't be used."

Or ask the courageous Yolo County, CA Registrar-Clerk, Freddie Oakley, who smartly wrote recently about some of her election official colleagues: "They also argue that, 'We have to trust our poll workers…' To this I can only say…only if they are incorruptible."

Or finally, ask Oregon Secretary of State, Bill Bradbury, who delivered this knock-out speech last November:

We cannot simply react and play defense against a rising tide of legitimate public questions and concerns. Elections are the foundation of democracy, and our democracy cannot function without full public confidence in the fairness of elections. We must proactively offer the public an elections system that is clean, transparent, fair, and above reproach. We must be able to prove that all of our claims about elections are true.
...
We cannot ignore our constituents. It's not enough anymore to simply tell them "just trust us."
...
We believe that our elections are accurate, but we need hard evidence to show the public.

If only San Diego County Registrar Mikel Haas --- who has never heard of an indicted election official, and isn't concerned that a poll worker might try to tamper with a programmed election-ready voting machine when he allows them to keep them in their car, house or garage for weeks before an election --- would care as much about his voters as Sancho, Oakley or Bradbury... Unfortunately, Haas seems to be falling into the Anchundo category instead.

Trust me.