OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Archive for December, 2018

Recount Begins Monday for 34th Senate District

Posted by Newsletter Reprint on December 6, 2018

This just came over the wire this morning from the Orange County Registrar of Voters:

Public Notice 34th Senate District Recount

December 6, 2018 – Pursuant to California Elections Code section 15628 the Orange County Registrar of Voters will be conducting a recount of the ballots cast in the 2018 November 6th General Election, 34th Senate District, (Orange County’s portion) contest.

The election was conducted on November 6, 2018. The recount process will begin at the Registrar of Voters’ office, 1300 South Grand Avenue, Building C, Santa Ana, on Monday, December 10, 2018 beginning at 9 a.m. Details on the recount status will be located on our website at ocvote.com.

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Ballot Harvesting

Posted by Brenda Higgins on December 3, 2018

Since the blue wave that swept Orange County in November 2018, there has been much discussion and outrage at the multiple victories of the Democrats.  I have looked in vain for a thoughtful analysis of the relatively new law known as “Ballot Harvesting”.  The reactions of conservatives and Republicans to the election results have been shock and outrage.   Those sentiments are fueled by party leadership’s failure to provide meaningful explanation of the law, and the lack of party strategy in addressing it during the 2018 cycle.  A productive discussion is needed, with truth about what the statute says and doesn’t say, and what party leadership did and did not do.  There may very well have been fraudulent activity, but it is impossible to discern that, unless and until we appreciate what was permissible under the law, and the utter lack of response to the possibilities.

In September 2016, Governor Brown signed AB-1921 , it was codified as Elections Code Section 3017.  In past elections, (i.e. prior to 2016) a “Vote by mail” voter, which most Republicans are, could mail their ballot, drop it off at the polling place, or have a relative or member of their household drop it off at the polling place.  It had to be received at the polling place before the polls closed, or received by the Registrar of Voters (if by mail) prior to the closing of the polls on election day.

It is easy to see that even with the Vote by Mail ballots, there are impediments for some people.  If you live alone, if you have no relatives, if you are unable to get to the polling place and can’t or just forgot to mail it on time, maybe you don’t have the $1.00 in postage (It does require two stamps that are $.050 now), or you can’t get to the post office to get stamps.  For elderly or disabled persons in particular, it is easy to see how these things could prevent a person from exercising their constitutional right to vote.

The new law provides that you can turn your ballot over to anyone you want to, and have them drop it off at the polling place.  The law provides that the person transporting the ballot can not be paid for doing so, not by a campaign or party or political action committee.  The Ballot “Harvester”, if you will, just has to be a well intentioned person who wants to help a voter out.  On its face, seems like a great idea, ask your neighbor or the nice lady you know from church to take your ballot to the polls for you.  The opportunity arises though, for a grassroots army, of well organized volunteers, who could be working the Get Out the Vote process in a way that visits voters at their home to make sure they get registered, offer some helpful advice and information on what the issues are and about the candidates, offer to pick up the ballot on election day and take it to the polls for you.  It all sounds like a wonderful program, a win-win situation.

There is a window of opportunity created by this new law.  The law itself is impartial, and not a terrible idea in that it increases the ability and likelihood that someone can exercise their constitutional right to vote.  The problem with any window of opportunity, is that if you don’t move to make it work for you, it becomes a liability.  That seems to be what happened to Orange County Republicans in the 2018 election.

Before the primary in June, the California Republican Party engaged in a pilot program to call on consistent Republican voters and volunteers would offer to pick up their ballot and take it to the polling place.  The problem was, many Republican voters who were contacted refused.   This is the same thing we have seen in recent past elections with polling.  The polls have tended to favor Democrats, never forget the “sure thing” of a Hillary presidency, because Republican voters are disinclined to share their opinions or information with strangers.  They were similarly disinclined to turn over their ballots.  The OCGOP therefore abandoned any effort to organize and/or leverage the new law in their favor in the November election. They stuck to the old tried and true phone banking and canvassing calling on the RWF to round up the woman power to Get Out The Vote.

Democrats maximized their leverage of the new law  by registering new Democrat voters, getting out the vote from low propensity voters (who haven’t often voted), increasing the voter contact and then, ‘harvesting’, offering for volunteers to pick up and deliver voters ballots to the polls.

The Registrar in Orange County has been quoted as saying that the numbers of ballots dropped off on election day in the November 2018 election was unprecedented.

On November 19, at the OCGOP monthly meeting, a very contrite Chairman Fred Whitaker, discussed Ballot Harvesting and indicated that he had significantly underestimated the impact it would have in the 2018 races.  By that date, it had become clear that the county had lost every congressional seat, as well as State Assembly and State Senate seats.   On election night, the early returns had Republicans in slim leads in the congressional and state legislature seats.  As the hundreds of thousands of “Harvested” ballots were tallied, those leads disappeared.  On that evening of November 19, it was clear that no congressional seats were saved and the words of Chairman Whitaker dismissing Democrat challengers earlier in the year “Let them die on the hill in Orange County”, had come back to haunt him in the worst way.  Similarly, Mimi Walters, when asked in March if she had any concerns about being re-elected, she exerted a confident “No”.   This arrogance did not serve the party well, and translated to losses even for those who took the threat of harvested ballots seriously.

Young Kim was talking about harvested ballots. Travis Allen was talking about the threat of harvested ballots.  It is of little benefit for single candidates to recognize an existential threat to their candidacy when the party has affirmatively decided to ignore it.

The ballots turned in through the harvesting of volunteers, are not per se, ‘fraudulent’ votes.  That is the distinction that so many who are outraged over this result are missing. The elucidation of the new law herein, is not to say there was no election fraud, but to point out, it is a different issue.  In the November 19 meeting, Chairman Whitaker and others told stories of many long hours spent at the County office of the Registrar, observing the ballots being counted to look for any anomalies.  Mark Meuser and others did the same in many other counties.  Fraud may very well have been at work in this election and affected the result.  Deborah Pauly, OCGOP Central Committee representative noted that this new procedure  “May further have denigrated election integrity”, as there have been myriad other concerns  raised about election integrity in this election where not just Ballot Harvesting, but Motor Voter law, and an incompetent and recalcitrant DMV, have created a brave new world of election fraud possibilities.

The new law permitting Ballot Harvesting in California, should also not be confused with the ban on such harvesting in Arizona.  The Arizona law prohibiting ballot harvesting was challenged in the 9th Circuit.  On an emergency basis, in a remarkably brief, two line ruling,  the court refused to stay the Arizona law.  So, as of the 2018 election, ballot harvesting was banned, by law in Arizona.  That legal matter is still pending with the 9th Circuit and scheduled for a full  hearing  in January.  That case may shed some light on the California law, but it is important to know that the law is opposite in the two states.

Many factors likely contributed to the blue sweep of this famously red county.   It is disappointing and the sheer magnitude of the defeat is breathtaking.  The party has emphasized this ballot harvesting as being the problem.  It is onerous sounding, “Ballot Harvesting” without an understanding of the law.  This fueling of outrage though, does work in keeping constituents upset, and in their outrage, they fail to analyze and appreciate all of the other malfeasance by party leadership.  Given the classic behavior of liberals and conservatives, everyone should have known that the harvesting would dramatically favor democrats.  Given the make up and rhetoric surrounding the House of Representatives on a national level, they knew the efforts of the Democratic National Convention would be focused, aggressively  here.  In the constant refrain of polling and strategy, party leaders knew that demographics were changing and the market share of the Grand Old Party was shrinking in this region.

What the party missed was a set of cohesive messaging and ideas, conservative philosophy, simply communicated to voters.  Conservative ideals, of smaller government and greater civil liberties, law and order and government that stays out of your way…this is the ideal that sells that has always been the heart of the Republican party.  But, in their effort to distance themselves from Trump, because a pollster told them to, they forget what they were about.   The party, again in this election, let the liberals set the tone and the agenda and stuck to statistical models and polls, instead of revisiting our foundation, of greater freedom through smaller government.

In the current environment, if a candidate can not make the case for conservatism, then that candidate is finished. That is the battle field.  It will no longer work to just make voting easier and pander to a demographic, with slick mailers and repetitive phone calls. Voters are more sophisticated than that and they want to have a sense of the party’s core beliefs and the candidate’s willingness to adhere to that.  The party also put up “recognizable” names, without any appreciation for the baggage and displeasure that may be associated with the names.  Polls can’t tell you that.  Only involvement with the non-political constituents can give a reading on that.

Ranting about fraud or ballot harvesting, and encouraging others to rant about it,  is just a failure to accept full responsibility for an abject failure to see and plan for what was to come.  There is so much more the party needs to be doing to come into being a force to be reckoned with in the new political environment.  One thing is for sure, what we have always done, and ignoring and discounting what has occurred nationally, is not the right plan forward.  Other than attempting to gloss over the massacre of 2018, by congratulating the local officials who were endorsed and won races, the party has not communicated what the plan forward is.  There’s been no indication of leadership change, little acknowledgment of fault or malfeasance, no indication of what if anything will be done to address real irregularities that came up and were reported during the election season.  It will behoove and be incumbent upon leadership to forge and communicate a new path forward, and it would seem to be prudent to do that sooner rather than later.

There is an election in 23 months. Orange County, has no Republican incumbents in Congress.  Rebuilding, if it is going to be attempted, needs to be happening now.

 

Posted in 34th Senate District, 39th Congressional District, 45th Congressional District, 48th Congressional District, 49th Congressional District, 4th Supervisorial District, 74th Assembly District, California, Orange County, Republican Central Committee, U.S. Politics | Tagged: | 3 Comments »