Judge Chides Officials on Blocked Vote Recount

Judge Chides Officials on Blocked Vote Recount
Posted by CN Staff on July 14, 2007 at 09:25:39 PT
By Ian Hoffman, Staff Writer
Source: San Mateo County Times
California -- Faced with accusations of lying, destroying public records and other chicanery, Alameda County officials  facing a lawsuit over their handling of a hotly contested election recount  instead protested to a state judge on Friday that they were victims of misunderstandings, bad decisions and their own ignorance of the multimillion-dollar machines used to conduct elections.
Superior Court Judge Winifred Y. Smith questioned those defenses. At one point he termed them "shaggy dog stories" and "stonewalling." He appeared poised to order stiff penalties against the county, including conducting a 2004 Berkeley election all over again at county expense. If she does, it will be only the second time in California legal history that a new election has been ordered without clear evidence of ballot tampering or substantial tabulation errors by elections officials. On Thursday, the judge filed a proposed ruling strongly favoring an organization of medical marijuana advocates who sought to contest the narrow defeat of a marijuana dispensary initiative that year. The measure failed by 191 votes, or less than 0.5 percent of the ballots cast. But Smith found that the medical-marijuana group never could exercise its right to contest the election because county officials barred access to electronic voting machine records needed to show whether the ballots were recorded accurately. "The evidence necessary to determine whether petitioners' election contest is meritorious has been lost or destroyed due to (Alameda County's) failure to fulfill its obligation to preserve the information that was reasonably available to them at the time of the recount, and at the time of the filing of this litigation," Smith concluded in her tentative ruling. Within days after voters went to the polls and voted on Measure R, Alameda County's then-Registrar of Voters Bradley Clark charged Americans for Safe Access just over $22,600 to recount electronic ballots on the county's touch-screen voting machines, made by Diebold Election Systems Inc. State elections law says petitioners for a election recount can see more, however: all ballots plus "all other relevant materials." But Clark denied the group's requests for the machines' internal audit logs, which could have showed malfunctions or changes in the machines' operation on Election Day, plus internal backup copies of the electronic ballots and chain-of-custody records showing who had access to the machines. Diebold engineers installed those features as insurance for voting machine accuracy and reliability, and a state court of appeals agreed that those records were "relevant" to a recount. Alameda County Counsel Richard Winnie said punishing the county now is "really unfortunate because the registrar was in the position of interpreting a piece of elections code that never had been interpreted before" for electronic voting. "This is a new electronic age, and it was difficult for him to interpret what was required," Winnie said. County officials and attorneys assured the medical-marijuana group that the machines' internal voting data had been preserved, even after the county purchased a new voting system and Diebold bought back all of the county's touch-screen voting machines. But it turned out that the county did not copy the internal records first, and by the time lawyers for the county and Americans for Safe Access went to Diebold facilities in Plano, Texas, to download them, all but 2 percent of the records had been overwritten and lost. Smith heard both sides Friday and left without ruling. In her tentative ruling Thursday, however, she found that Alameda County officials up to the present "have engaged in a pattern of withholding relevant evidence and failure to preserve evidence central to the allegations of this case. That evidence has now been determined to be irretrievable." She said it was "reasonable" for the county to return the $22,600 recount fee, pay all of Americans for Safe Access' legal bills and hold a new election on Measure R during the next general election. County officials said Friday that they are prepared to pay for that election in November 2008.Note: Court may order new election for marijuana dispensary initiative.Source: San Mateo County Times, The (CA)Author: Ian Hoffman, Staff WriterPublished: July 14, 2007Copyright: 2007 MediaNews Group, Inc.Website: Contact: For Safe Access Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on July 16, 2007 at 17:05:17 PT
New Vote Likely in California E-Voting Case
July 15, 2007
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on July 15, 2007 at 11:25:23 PT
History is repeating itself but this time they have a conservative government. 
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on July 15, 2007 at 10:47:10 PT
It seems I recall something similar happening five or six years ago.A judge then said the law against marijuana cannabis was unconstitutional and I thought something good was going to happen from it...and it didn't.
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Comment #3 posted by JHarshaw on July 14, 2007 at 21:47:58 PT
Comment #2
'Round and 'round we go AGAIN!I would be willing to bet we, (here in Canada), wind up just where we are right now.just a thought, peace and pot.
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on July 14, 2007 at 19:43:51 PT
Judge Rules Canada's Pot Possession Laws Unconstit
ional. Judge Rules Canada's Pot Possession Laws Unconstitutional Fri, 13 Jul 2007  Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Canada Web) 
A Toronto judge has ruled that Canada's pot possession laws are unconstitutional after a man argued the country's medicinal marijuana regulations are flawed. The 29-year-old Toronto resident had been charged with possession of about 3.5 grams or roughly $45 dollars worth of marijuana. The man has no medical issues and doesn't want a medical exemption to smoke marijuana. In 2001, Health Canada implemented the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, which allow access to marijuana to people who are suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses. In court, the man argued that the federal government only made it policy to provide marijuana to those who need it, but never made it an actual law. Because of that, he argued, all possession laws, whether medicinal or not, should be quashed. The judge agreed and dismissed the charges. "The government told the public not to worry about access to marijuana," said Judge Howard Borenstein. "They have a policy but not law.... In my view that is unconstitutional." Defence lawyer Brian McAllister, who represented the man, said the ramifications of the ruling have potential to be "pretty big." "Obviously, there's thousands of people that get charged with this offence every year," he said. McAllister said Ontario residents charged with possessing marijuana now have a new defence. "That's probably why the government will likely appeal the decision," he said. Borenstein has given prosecutors two weeks before he makes his ruling official. Prosecutors told CBC News they want a speedy appeal to overturn the decision. "For the time being, nothing changes," Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said about how the force deals with marijuana possession. "We have to wait and see what happens with the process through the courts." --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nobody can stop this!
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Comment #1 posted by mayan on July 14, 2007 at 13:05:11 PT
Re-Vote Now!
The measure failed by 191 votes, or less than 0.5 percent of the ballots cast.The extreme extent of the stonewalling leads one to believe that this vote was rigged. Why not re-vote now? Why stifle the will of the voters? THE WAY OUT IS THE WAY IN...'Saudi Flights' on Mob, CIA-Linked Air Charters: Official: Bush Knows Where bin Laden Is Hiding But Chooses Not to Capture Him:"9/11 Inside Job" Banner Seen Live by Global TV Audience but Removed by YouTube: Doubting Ron Paul's Warning Of Staged Provocation: Attacks Ron Paul For Tonkin Warning:
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