Press Conference to be Held on the Court House Steps in San Diego at 10:30am PT Just After Filing...
By Winter Patriot on 7/30/2006, 8:58pm PT  


Guest blogged by Winter Patriot

[UPDATE: RAW STORY covers the filing here along with an exclusive interview with attorney Paul Lehto. Details from the press conference held earlier today here. Lehto to appear on Ed Schultz radio show at 2:30pm ET to discuss the case.]

[FURTHER UPDATE: The full complaint is now available to download here.]

For all advocates of election integity, and especially for those in San Diego, Monday is going to be a big day. Attorney Paul Lehto is on the scene and Monday morning he will be filing a contest to the U.S. House special election held on June 6th in California's 50th congressional district to replace disgraced Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

According to a press release issued by a group of Election Integrity advocates organizing themselves as the CA-50 Action Group, a press release will be held on the steps of the Court House in San Diego at 10:30am, just after the filing. (The BRAD BLOG has received an advance copy of the press release. It is posted in full at the bottom of this article.)

The election between Francine Busby and Brian Bilbray was marred, as reported in detail by The BRAD BLOG over the past two months, when the Diebold optical-scan and touch-screen voting machines used in the race were sent home with poll workers on so-called "sleepovers" for days and weeks prior to the election. That breach in security was in contravention of new state and federal security mitigation requirements enacted just months ago after dozens of severe vulnerabilities were recently confirmed in those specific voting systems.

According to the new state and federal security requirements, such breaches of security effectively decertify the systems for use in California. The election contest, to be filed on behalf of several CA-50 voters on Monday will charge the votes cast on those decertified machines are, in fact, illegal votes. The casting of illegal votes in one of several ground under which a contest may be filed in California state court.

Dozens of election integrity organizations around the country including the California Election Protection Network, the Progressive Democrats of America and the Election Defense Alliance to name just a few have declared "No Confidence" in the reported results of the election. Even the DNC's Voting Rights Institute, for the first time in their history, has called for a complete hand count of the paper ballots and "paper trails" from the race in light of the security violations and other irregularities in the first federal race of the year, and since the new requirements were enacted.

San Diego County Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas has admitted to breaches of security during the election --- he said that storage of voting machines in poll workers garages and cars could "not be considered security," and told the San Diego Union-Tribune that more than 100 voting machines were found to have broken security seals or other breaches of chain of custody --- but nonetheless has refused the release of dozens of chain of custody documents requested by voters.

Furthermore, Haas has arbitrarily (and illegally) set the cost for a manual hand count of ballots at nearly $150,000. That price, for which Haas has failed to give accounting, amounts to nearly $1 per ballot and has stymied a request by CA-50 voter Barbara Gail Jacobson to hand count the paper ballots and trails as she is legally allowed under California's recount provisions. Compared to the .14 per ballot charged for a similar hand count in neighboring Orange County, the charges have been characterized as arbitrary and capricious by the CA-50 Action Group organizers as well as other critics of the San Diego Registrar of Voters. The behavior of Haas, in apparent violation of several California laws, has raised questions as to why he has confounded citizen attempts to achieve transparency in verifying the so-far unproven results of the race as announced by his office.

Bilbray was sworn in by the Republican-led U.S. Congress just days after the election while votes were still being counted by Haas' office. The rush to swear Bilbray into office occurred several weeks before the election was even certified in San Diego County on June 29th.

Citizen contributions to help fight for accountability in the Busby/Bilbray CA-50 election are funding this action. Your donations to VelvetRevolution.us are appreciated and will help to continue the fight. (DISCLOSURE: VR was co-founded by The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman.)

Best wishes to all our friends in San Diego. May the democracy force be with you.

Use the force, Paul! Use the force!

The complete press release from the CA-50 Action Group announcing the contest and the press conference follows below in full...

For Immediate Release: July 31, 2006, San Diego
CONTACT: Ilene Proctor PR, (310) 271-5857

ELECTION CONTEST FILED DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY, DECERTIFICATION AND PAPER BALLOT COUNT OF BUSBY/BILBRAY ELECTION IN CA-50

Press Conference Set for 10:30am in San Diego

Today, famed election attorney Paul Lehto filed an election contest lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court demanding a count of all paper ballots in the Busby/Bilbray special election to replace convicted Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham. On the face of the pleading, Lehto, on behalf of voters of CA-50, asserts that they are entitled to a 100% ballot count at a reasonable cost because of massive security violations of federal and state law by election officials.

California state law requires that all votes cast in an election be properly counted and tabulated. In the CA-50 election, however, it cannot be determined whether or not all votes were counted because legally mandated procedures were violated both in the run-up to the election and during the official voter request for a hand ballot count. County Registrar Mikel Haas sent the Diebold voting machines on "sleepovers" in the unsecured homes and cars of volunteer poll workers for weeks prior to the election in violation of federal and state law. When voter Barbara Gail Jacobsen filed for a recount, Haas set an exorbitant price of $150,000 but refused to provide the documents necessary for that count.

"Given the fact that all the voting machines were circulating in the county for at least a week prior to the election, and manipulation of a single machine can rig an election, there is no basis for voters to have confidence in the election results," attorney Lehto said. Indeed, because the Diebold machines used in the election were conditionally certified by the Secretary of State under stringent security and chain of custody conditions to protect against manipulation, the lawsuit asserts that non-compliance with those conditions necessarily requires decertification of the election results.

A press conference will take place today on the steps of the San Diego County Superior Court at 10:30 am. Lehto, voters and activists will be on hand to talk about the lawsuit and their plans for further action to ensure compliance with all California election laws.

VelvetRevolution.us, a network of scores of election reform organizations demanding honest and accountable elections, is handling the fundraising for this CA-50 legal challenge and donations are being accepted on its website, www.velvetrevolution.us.