November 17, 2016 Leave a comment
People are asking about the recount procedure in the Redlands City Council Election.
California Elections Code section 15620 et seq. governs recounts requested by voters. Any voter may file a request for a recount pursuant to Elections Code section 15620. The request must be filed no later than five days after the completion of the official canvass. The completion of the canvass occurs when the elections official signs the Certification of Election Results. Elections Code section 15620(c).
The request must be in writing, specify the contest to be recounted, and state on behalf of which candidate (in this case), slate of electors, or position on a measure it is filed. Elections Code section 15620(a). The request may specify the order in which precincts shall be recounted, it may specify the method of counting to be used, and any other relevant material to be examined. Elections Code sections 15622, 15627, 15630. The choice of method is either a manual recount (as defined in section 15627), or by means of the voting system used originally. Elections Code sections 15627(a).
When I observed the recount requested in the 2014 31st Congressional District, certain precincts (186 out of 477) thought to have anomalies were requested to be reviewed first in accordance with Elections Code section 15622. When insufficient results were found, the recount was suspended.
If it is not a statewide measure, as this is not, the request needs to be filed with the county election official responsible for conducting the election, unless the City canvasses their own returns, which is not the case here. Elections Code section 15620(a).
“Any time during the conduct of a recount and for 24 hours thereafter, any other voter may request the recount of any precincts in an election for the same office, slate of presidential electors, or measure not recounted as a result of the original request.” Elections Code section 15623.
The election official will post a notice stating the date and place of the recount at least one day before the recount, and the candidates will be notified by overnight mail or personally. Elections Code section 15628.
A recount is open to the public, and must start no later than seven days following the receipt of the request and shall be continued daily, except for Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, for no less than six hours a day until completed. Elections Code sections 15626, 15629. A manual recount must be conducted under the supervision of the election official by recount boards, (each consisting of four San Bernardino County voters), appointed by the election official. Elections Code section 15625.
While the recount is public (section 15629), No ballot can be touched “without the express consent of the elections official or the election officer supervising the special recount board.” Elections Code section 15630.
The regulations provide further details about observers and spokespeople:
The procedure for challenging a ballot is that the person challenging the ballot states a reason, the person counting the ballot shall “count it as he or she believes proper and then set it aside with a notation as to how it was counted” and the “elections official shall, before the recount is completed, determine whether the challenge is to be allowed. The decision of the elections official is final.” Elections Code section 15631.
The Code of Regulations provides further detail:
Every vote in every precinct must be recounted, or the results are null and void, and if a different candidate wins, the results of the official canvass will be changed. Elections Code section 15632. A copy of the results shall be posted conspicuously in the office of the election official. Elections Code section 15633.
Manual recounts have this procedure:
There is a cost associated with a recount, and the amount for this Redlands Municipal Election recount, should it occur, will depend on a variety of factors. The election official determines the amount of the deposit necessary to cover the costs of the recount for each day. The voter filling the request must deposit, before the start of the recount and at the beginning of each day, the amounts to cover the cost of each day. If the results are reversed, the deposit must be returned. Elections Code section 15624.
How much will the recount be, if one is requested? San Bernardino County does not give the typical fees, but the Lesli Gooch recount (which was a manual recount) was $6,300 for one day which changed one vote: http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-recount-halted-20140626-story.html
A City Council election in Victorville in 2014 with an 12 vote discrepancy would have cost $4,400 a day.
The estimated cost of a recount in the 8th Congressional District in 2012 was “$11,335 for the first day’s recount. [The requestor] will pay roughly $6,000 for each day after that.”
A 23 vote differential in a Hesperia Unified School District election had an estimated $8,000 per day recount cost. http://www.hesperiastar.com/article/20071119/NEWS/311199993
There is also an automatic manual recount (countywide) established by Election Code section 15360. By law, a random sample of ballots from every election must be recounted manually to verify the computer count. A minimum of one percent of all votes cast is included in the process. This must occur before the election is certified. The automatic manual recount is open to the public. A court explained it like this:
“1 percent manual tally” is a procedure used in California to test whether there are any discrepancies between the electronic record generated by a voting machine and what is essentially a manual auditof that electronic record. Essentially, after each election, the “official conducting the election” is to conduct a “public manual tally of the ballots tabulated” by any voting machines “cast in 1 percent of the precincts chosen at random by the elections official.” (§ 15360.) Nguyen v. Nguyen (2008) 1581636, 1643.
There are court challenges available after the recount, but since the recount in this case is mere speculation, they will be discussed at a later time.
The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.