Election officials are the gatekeepers of our democracy: Natalie Adona and Neal Kelley

Election officials may not top the headlines every day, but without them, our democracy wouldn’t function. These county registrar of voters, city clerks, and volunteer poll workers are also our friends, family members, and neighbors. They not only embody our country’s commitment to government by and for the people, they are specially trained and equipped to ensure that every voter is heard.

As election officials, we know just how much work goes into ensuring that our elections are free, fair, and secure. We’ve also seen firsthand the challenges facing our public servants in recent years: the immense political pressure, intimidation, and disinformation that has fueled a disturbing uptick in violent threats. It’s a reality we must face and work together to address.

That’s why, with the midterm elections quickly approaching, now is the time for our leaders to act and provide the necessary resources and funding to protect our elections officials and keep elections safe in 2022 and beyond.

The continued spread of disinformation following the 2020 election has emboldened election deniers to act out against the very people safeguarding our democratic process. Fearing for their safety, and that of their families, an increasing number of election officials are leaving their jobs. In Gillespie County, Texas, which voted overwhelmingly for former President Trump in 2020, an entire elections office recently resigned, with officials citing threats and stalking as the primary driver for the mass departure.

During the past year alone, the Department of Justice has examined more than 1,000 threats made against election officials, finding that 11 percent were serious enough to merit a federal criminal investigation. The FBI, in recent testimony before the Senate, also said that the volume of incidents is so high that it does not have adequate systems in place to process them.

We’ve seen and experienced the kind of intimidation that has forced many of our peers to fear for their safety. And one thing is clear: our nation cannot wait for this inflammatory rhetoric to cross an even more dangerous line. We need to act quickly to protect the civil servants who keep our elections running.

A bipartisan group of senators recently introduced legislation aimed at updating the Electoral Count Act to make the election certification process less prone to the kind of manipulation or subversion that we saw after the 2020 election. This legislation is important, and we hope Congress passes it swiftly. That group also introduced a companion piece of legislation that would target anyone who threatens or intimidates election workers, voters, poll watchers, or candidates. The bill would increase the maximum penalty for such actions from one year in prison to two.

This is an important start, and we applaud the senators involved for paying attention to this issue, but we must do more to stop this harmful trend of harassment and intimidation so that we can truly protect the people running our elections.

That includes new funding streams, through the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, or the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), that election officials can utilize specifically for threat monitoring, safety training, privacy services, and home security.

Earlier this year, the EAC expanded the use of federal election security funds for physical security and social media monitoring at the state and local level. This is a step forward, but more federal resources are needed to combat ongoing threats and harassment against our election officials.

Collaboration among federal, state, and local officials can also help prepare specific plans of action. Looking at Orange County, by creating a task force with members from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, state and local law enforcement, we have become better able to assess and address threats against poll workers and others. This kind of enhanced information sharing and coordination should be implemented across the country.

In several counties across the nation, calls to law enforcement regarding instances of intimidation are often met with questions such as, “Is this even a crime?” It’s vital that election officials and law enforcement work together proactively before elections, which should include training to increase their awareness of threats so they can become more effective in addressing them.

Additionally, we need more support systems in place for election officials to protect their physical and mental health. Harassment takes a toll. Counseling and emotional support should be offered to help workers on the front lines. Likewise, physical security should be offered to protect those at work and at home when their safety may be jeopardized.

Thankfully, we are beginning to see signs of progress around the country. Already, several states have either introduced or passed legislation aimed at protecting election workers. In Maine, a new law classifies threats against election workers as a crime and offers de-escalation training to civil servants. In California, a bill has been introduced to keep election officials’ home addresses private. In Washington state, it is now a felony to threaten election officials online.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

Appeals Court Allows Noncitizens to Again Vote in San Francisco School Board Elections

A California appeals court decision will effectively allow non-U.S. citizens to vote in San Francisco school board elections in November, despite a court ruling earlier this year that struck down the local law as unconstitutional.

California Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer struck down the city’s ordinance allowing noncitizens to vote on July 29. However, the First District Court of Appeal in August granted a request by the city for a stay of the decision.

The appellate court then denied on Sept. 9 a request to expedite Ulmer’s ruling against San Francisco’s noncitizen voting law in time for the General Election.

“The constitutional challenges … are significant ones that are entitled to deliberate consideration,” according to the appeals court decision. However, the court “decline[s] to order an injunction. No extensions of time will be granted absent a showing of exceptional good cause.”

This means noncitizens can cast ballots in the Nov. 8 election, according to James V. Lacy, an attorney who filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco ordinance on behalf of conservative groups in March 2022.

Lacy told The Epoch Times that the procedural delay will harm election integrity and allow the counting of votes that a judge has already ruled are illegal.

“It puts a cloud on the election,” he said on Sept. 13. “At a time of very high skepticism in the general public about the integrity of our elections, what the court has basically done is undermining the credibility and the vote of the San Francisco election.”

San Francisco voters approved the ordinance that appeared as Proposition N on the 2016 ballot, and the law was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2022, until the city extended it indefinitely last year. Since it went into effect, noncitizens have been allowed to vote in at least four local elections, according to court documents.

According to deputy city attorneys, noncitizens may only vote in school board elections and are not given an opportunity to vote for any other office.

The underlying idea was to give noncitizen parents a say in who is elected to school boards but “the problem is that it is illegal,” Lacy told California Insider host Siyamak Khorrami in an Aug. 24 episode. “It’s alarming that this ballot initiative even got on the ballot.”

Lacy contends that voting is a fundamental right of citizens only, and a cornerstone of democracy that should not be “tinkered with.”

The California Constitution clearly states that only U.S. citizens are allowed to vote in state and local elections, Lacy told California Insider at the time.

According to the constitution, “A United States citizen 18 years of age and resident in this State may vote.” However, attorneys for the city argued the “may vote” language doesn’t prohibit a local government to allow others to vote.

In his July 29 ruling, Judge Ulmer said that based on the same flawed logic, the city could argue that “children under 18 and residents of other states ‘may also’ vote in California elections, which our Constitution does not allow.”

He said the constitution uses the words “may vote” for good reason.

“Had it instead used the mandatory word ‘shall’ … resident citizens of age would be legally required to vote. Election laws in many nations make voting mandatory, but not the United States,” Ulmer said.

Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote, a national election integrity watchdog group, denounced the appellate court’s decision to deny the request for expedition.

“Name any other country in the world that would allow noncitizens to vote in their country’s elections. There isn’t one,” Engelbrecht told The Epoch Times on Sept. 13.

Click here to read the full story at the Epoch Times

Back to school: California Republicans Bet Big on Local Board Races

When California Republicans gathered in Anaheim this spring, attention focused on candidate speeches and endorsement battles as the party tries to win its first statewide race since 2006. 

But a little-noticed, hour-long session in a small conference room at the Marriott could very well be more consequential for the state GOP this election.

The meeting focused on running for local school board seats, and it was led by Shawn Steel, a former party chairperson. Now, he’s one of the biggest evangelists for strengthening the GOP by recruiting new candidates and voters in what are, officially at least, nonpartisan races.

“When you’re a minority party, like Republicans in California … you have to think, ‘Well, what can we do as a party to make a big difference?’” Steel told CalMatters. “You see the schools are just in great freefall and chaos. Parents don’t want to send their kids there. So this is the time to get people that are otherwise angst-ridden, upset, powerless.” 

In California, Democrats have long used school boards as a recruiting and training ground for political candidates — with help from teachers’ unions. 

But while the state Democratic party isn’t amping up its school board efforts in 2022, the GOP is going in big with its “Parent Revolt” program — what party officials call their most tailored school board recruitment and training program ever. It includes virtual training sessions that detail how and where to run for office, plus tips for digital campaigns and going door-to-door. 

The goal: To capitalize on COVID pandemic frustrations and concerns over “critical race theory” and other issues among parents of school-aged children — and win not only school board seats, but also, eventually, legislative and congressional races by re-engaging core Republican voters and attracting independents. 

There are about 2,500 races for local school board seats in California in November — about half of the total 5,000 seats, according to the California School Boards Association. The filing deadline for candidates was Friday, though it was extended until today for seats held by incumbents not seeking reelection. While no statewide tally exists, of the nine seats up for election in the three largest school districts — Los Angeles, San Diego, and Fresno — three are open seats, where no incumbent is running.  

The Republican Party would not disclose its goals for recruited candidates, other than as many as possible. It also wouldn’t say how much it is spending on its “Parent Revolt” effort.

“We recognized early that education is going to be a major motivating issue for many Californians this year,” said Ellie Hockenbury, spokesperson for the state GOP. “Whereas it is often the case that top-of-the-ticket races help turnout for down-ballot races, we also believe that local races could be just as big a motivator for many to drive turnout. Having strong candidates in school board races could help our slate of candidates at every level.”

One candidate is Sonja Shaw, who is running for a seat on the Chino Valley School Board in the Inland Empire.

Shaw, a parent of an eighth grader and a 10th grader, used to volunteer in the classroom, but says that during the pandemic, the school board became less accessible and less transparent about its decision-making. “When they closed down, parents were exited out of the school system,” she said. 

Then the GOP provided a level of guidance on running a campaign that Shaw otherwise wouldn’t have had: “We were treading water, without knowing where we’re going,” she said.  

These local races are hardly low-stakes: School board members around the state will be at the forefront of determining how federal funding is spent and addressing labor shortages, teacher pay and inequities in education exacerbated by the pandemic.  

“I’m just trying — and the party is trying — to get the word out: There’s a whole lot of stuff going on in your backyard,” Steel said in an interview. “Don’t worry about the Ukraine, don’t worry about D.C. You can do something socially useful, and start showing up to your school board meetings.” 

Will the strategy work? Some political consultants think it could be a smart way to go. 

“It’s the one instance where the David really can defeat the Goliath — when David continues to be so arrogant,” said Sean Walsh, a GOP strategist. 

But Rusty Hicks, chairperson of the California Democratic Party, said he sees some within the Republican Party using “this really challenging moment in our history” to further divide the state for political gain.

“Ultimately I think parents want the best education for their kids,” he told CalMatters. “And is banning books and punishing teachers and those kinds of activities – is that top of mind for parents? No, I don’t believe so.” 

‘A logical outgrowth’ 

In California’s 2022 election, the big action on education isn’t in the statewide race for the superintendent of public instruction. That’s a departure from the last midterm election in 2018, when it was one of the state’s most hotly contested races. 

With the help of teachers’ unions, Tony Thurmond narrowly defeated school choice advocate Marshall Tuck. The two — both Democrats in the nonpartisan race — spent $60 million combined. This year, there has been little challenge to Thurmond, who won 46% of the vote in the June 7 primary, just shy of the majority he needed to win outright without going to November. 

His challenger on Nov. 8, Republican Lance Christensen, earned a top-two spot with only 12% of the vote. He has raised only about $55,000 so far, compared to nearly $1.7 million for Thurmond, who is also boosted by $2.3 million in independent expenditures on his behalf. 

The GOP’s lack of attention on the superintendent race is a reflection of the party’s record statewide and the daunting odds of unseating a Democratic-backed incumbent, given the 2 to 1 Democratic advantage in voter registration.

Instead, Republicans have “become a party that focuses on presidential politics and local campaigns,” said Dan Schnur, a politics professor at UC Berkeley, USC and Pepperdine. 

The focus on school board races, he said, “is a logical outgrowth of that strategy.”  

Party officials, consultants and candidates of both parties say school choice is not at the forefront of the election this year for a number of reasons, including the pandemic, the shift of the issue to the local level, and the passage of Assembly Bill 1505 in 2019, which changed how publicly funded charter schools operate in California.

This year, the GOP is seeking to capitalize on the increased political engagement of parents — which started with COVID policies, but has carried over to national issues such as “critical race theory” and sex education. 

“I think there’s a real demand that this power structure is challenged and overturned, and that’s what we’re seeing right now,” Steel said. “We don’t lead it. We don’t own it. But if we can help inspire people, particularly newcomers…”

But not every candidate running for school board as a Republican gets the party’s support. 

Jeffrey Erik Perrine, a member of the far-right Proud Boys seeking a Sacramento-area school board seat, was banned from participating in the Sacramento County Republican Party’s events after aggressive behavior, including threats to members, and derogatory comments about immigrants, said Betsy Mahan, chairperson of the county party. Mahan said Perrine’s removal was not strictly about his association with the Proud Boys, but about his behavior. 

“We don’t ask people what organizations they belong to,” she said. “We look at how they act and if they are supportive in general of our party platform.” 

The state party said it works closely with county parties on attendee lists for training sessions, and follows their decisions on candidates. “We will follow the county party’s lead against supporting this expelled Republican,” Hockenbury said.

Also, the state GOP says it doesn’t give directly to school board candidates, but said its training provides non-monetary support. The April workshop and virtual event in July had at least 100 attendees each. The party has also conducted one-on-one sessions with prospective candidates. 

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

California Judge Overturns San Francisco Law Allowing Noncitizens to Vote

New York City’s identical law was recently struck down by a judge

In 2016, San Francisco voters approved a charter amendment allowing certain noncitizens to vote in school board elections. The Charter amendment also gave the County Board of Supervisors authority to extend the noncitizen voting authorization beyond 2022. On November 2, 2021, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors extended indefinitely the ordinance allowing noncitizens to vote beyond 2022.

In March 2022, California attorney James Lacy filed a lawsuit against the city and county of San Francisco over this law arguing that San Francisco residents have a clear interest in ensuring their school board elections follow state law, especially because state taxpayers partially fund school districts.

“The State of California has a long-standing requirement that voters must be United States citizens,” the lawsuit by James V. Lacy; Michael Denny; United States Justice Foundation; and California Public Policy Foundation opens with. “This requirement applies to every election in the state, even those conducted by charter cities, because determining voter qualifications is a matter of statewide concern where state law supersedes conflicting charter city ordinances. Therefore, the San Francisco ordinance authorizing noncitizen voting in elections for the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is unlawful and may not be implemented.”

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer just ruled in favor of Lacy et. al. “A San Francisco law allowing noncitizen parents to vote in local school board elections was overturned Friday by a judge who said the California Constitution permits only citizens to vote,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The Globe spoke with Lacy just before the hearing about the unconstitutionality of the law. He said the local law violates the California Constitution and Elections Code.

Lacy also noted that New York City’s identical law was recently struck down by a judge, which would have allowed 800,000 non-citizens to vote, setting an important precedent.

The judge said allowing non-citizens to vote “is contrary to the California Constitution and state statutes and cannot stand.”

The judge told a lawyer for the city that the power of charter cities such as San Francisco to regulate municipal affairs “does not override the Constitution,” the Chronicle reported.

“A permanent injunction has been issued to stop San Francisco from processing noncitizen voting and the Court has invited Lacy and the plaintiffs to file a motion to claim attorneys fees against the City for the action.”

“When noncitizens vote in an election, the voting rights of citizens are wrongly diluted,” Lacy said.

The lawsuit said school districts are funded with the taxes paid by each of the state’s taxpayers into the state’s general fund. When SFUSD spends taxpayer funds, it is not spending local taxpayer funds; it is spending state taxpayer funds. In this regard, everyone in the state has an interest in SFUSD’s expenditures. From that interest, everyone in the state also has an interest in ensuring that SFUSD’s governing board is elected in accordance with state law.

Lacy’s lawsuit said “While section 5 of article XI of the State Constitution gives charter cities power over their own municipal affairs, this section does not authorize Ordinance Number 206-21 because voter qualifications for school board elections are not municipal affairs.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Could Undocumented Residents Soon Vote in Santa Ana?

While undocumented immigrants remain barred from voting in federal elections, Santa Ana could join other parts of the U.S. that have in recent years allowed noncitizen voting at the local level.

As they debated city charter amendments at their July 19 meeting, most City Council members indicated support for a ballot measure opening local elections up to more people living in Santa Ana but born outside the U.S.

If passed by voters, Santa Ana would join a list of cities across the country – from as large as San Francisco and New York City (where a judge recently struck down the law) to even smaller towns like Montpelier and Winooski in Vermont – that have pushed for such expansions of civic participation to residents without citizenship status. 

“These are people who pay taxes. These are people who live in our community,” said Councilmember Johnathan Ryan Hernandez, who proposed the new idea in the middle of an existing discussion on city policy revisions that would need to go before voters in November.

More than 82,000 undocumented people are believed to live in Santa Ana, according to American Community Survey estimates from 2020. More than 60,000 residents in town were born outside the U.S. but have naturalized, according to the same set of estimates.

“I would like to see us include language that would allow voters to decide if residents who are non-citizens should be able to vote in our elections,” Hernandez said at last Tuesday’s meeting.

The idea got traction among most of his colleagues, for staff to come back with a recommendation at a future meeting, including Mayor Vicente Sarmiento, who noted from the dais that, at least in spirit, the idea “already (has) precedent” in town. 

Specifically, the majority Latino city allows undocumented residents to sit on city boards and commissions – a policy change made officially in March last year.

In Santa Ana, Sarmiento said, people of undocumented status – who tend to confront some of the city’s most pressing quality of life issues – “sometimes are more vested” in city affairs “than voting members.”

“We have other cities that have done this and this can be legally upheld,” Sarmiento said, expressing the need for “a bit more robust explanation for it.” 

The idea would have to come back to council members some time before the Aug. 12 filing deadline for city ballot measures. The City Council’s last regularly-scheduled meeting before then is Aug. 2.

Council members Sarmiento, Hernandez, Thai Viet Phan, Jessie Lopez and Nelida Mendoza supported the idea that evening. 

But two did not: Phil Bacerra – who at last Tuesday’s meeting said he didn’t support approving something proposed on the spot – and David Penaloza. 

Both council members tend to disagree with the ideas pushed by an opposing political camp on the dais, under Sarmiento. And the proposal by Hernandez, who’s frequently aligned with Sarmiento on certain issues, came during what was already a contentious debate that night about the existing, proposed city policy revisions before them. 

Aside from that, Penaloza said in a Friday phone interview, “I’m not supportive of it coming as a charter amendment this election cycle, mainly because these are the midterms.”

Penaloza argued the idea’s approval would hinge on what’s generally a smaller midterm election voter turnout compared to presidential election years.

But Penaloza said “it’s a valid discussion to have” and that he does see “a benefit to increasing the democratic process for a huge area of our community.”

“But how do we make sure it’s feasible?” Penaloza said, arguing the city could step into legal mud. 

Namely, Penaloza invoked the stricken law in New York, where a state supreme court judge from Staten Island said it ran afoul of the New York state constitution, according to the New York Times, which applies voting eligibility to citizens meeting adult age and residency requirements. 

A legal expert interviewed by the Times, as well as proponents of the law, argued the New York constitution’s language didn’t translate to an express exclusion of noncitizens who meet the age and residency requirements.

Click here to read the full article in the Voice of OC

California Election

California’s Primary Tuesday is over. With sights set on November, candidates had a few brief moments to celebrate or ponder what went wrong, before regrouping and racing toward the general election, now just 150 days away. Winners — and losers — emerged quickly across California and the Sacramento region on a low-turnout Election Day. Here are a few from Tuesday night.

Gavin Newsom — again. Less than a year after California voters resoundingly rejected September’s $200 million all-comers recall effort to replace the governor, Newsom took home 56% of the vote on Tuesday night. He will face Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle in November.

LOSERS

Sacramento stalwarts seeking higher office. Whether Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s independent bid to become California’s next attorney general or conservative Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones’ run at Congress, the county’s top two law enforcement officers’ law-and-order campaigns struggled to a rough night at the polls. WINNER Another Jones — Placer County Democrat Kermit Jones, who glided past the Sacramento County lawman to the top of the 3rd Congressional District race with 39% of the vote and will face Trump-endorsed Republican Rocklin Assemblyman Kevin Kiley in November, in a contest that could in some ways test Placer’s reputation as a reliably red enclave.

WINNER

Thien Ho, Sacramento County Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney, with his history-making election win to become Sacramento County’s first Asian American district attorney and the first person of color to ever lead the office. One of the prosecutors hand-picked to put away Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist Joseph DeAngelo, Ho held a strong lead over progressive attorney and former Sacramento County prosecutor Alana Mathews in a race that hinged on public safety in the wake of two mass shootings and spikes in violent crime. “The community has spoken,” Ho said Tuesday night. “They want an experienced prosecutor.” LOSER Davis developers. Voters were on track to reject Davis Measure H, the plan to annex more than 100 acres on Davis’ east side for a planned “innovation center” of research space, offices, housing and retail near Mace Boulevard and Interstate 80.

Advocates for the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus, as it would be called, said the 102-acre development on agricultural land would draw ag and tech firms to Davis and keep more UC Davis graduates in the city. Developers offered a smaller footprint — trimming housing and commercial space — but Davis voters, historically finicky on development issues and deeply concerned about traffic congestion on an already-clogged I-80 corridor, weren’t convinced. WINNER The teacher who just may find herself in a November contest with incumbent Tony Thurmond to become California’s next superintendent of public instruction. She’s San Francisco public school teacher and administrator Ainye Long. In an Instagram message from her car Wednesday, she sounded as surprised as any next-to-impossible longshot with no war chest running for state office against a well-funded incumbent would be expected to be. “It’s still early,” Long said, “but we’re officially in second place. It’s still early, though, so keep it coming. Keep it coming.” Long’s bare-bones campaign earned her 11.7% of the vote. That’s enough, so far, for a showdown with Thurmond who, despite endorsements from the California Democratic Party and the powerful California Teachers Association, and despite raising $1.5 million in campaign cash, managed about 46% of the vote as of Wednesday.

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee

California Voters Just Not Interested This Year

Remember the old saw about leading a horse to water but unable to make it drink?

The horse, it’s assumed, just wasn’t interested and that’s an apt description of the nearly 22 million Californians who have been given ballots for today’s primary election.

Through Monday, data guru Paul Mitchell reports that just 14% of those ballots had been returned to local election officials for counting, indicating that voter turnout could drop below the current record-low of 25.17% set in the 2014 primary.

It’s not difficult to understand why. Primary elections mostly determine which candidates will face each other five months hence. This year’s primary is especially lackluster and its weak dynamics cannot compete with other matters preoccupying voters, from COVID-19 to skyrocketing gasoline prices and surges in crime.

In fact, there’s just one high-profile political contest that will be resolved today — whether San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin will be recalled for his policies that, critics say, are too lenient on lawbreakers.

Pre-election polls indicate that the recall could succeed and the election has attracted national media attention because of San Francisco’s reputation for leftish politics and the potential setback for the national criminal justice reform movement.

Aside from the Boudin recall, the most noteworthy contest is a three-way battle for Los Angeles mayor. Polls indicate that Congresswoman Karen Bass and businessman Rick Caruso are running neck-and-neck with Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León a distant third.

De León will probably end with single-digit support, but that likely will be enough to prevent either Bass or Caruso from gaining a majority and thus force a November runoff for the right to govern a city plagued by issues — homelessness, crime, traffic congestion, racial tension, economic torpor and political discord — that have bedeviled previous mayors.

That’s about it in terms of issues and contests that could motivate large numbers of voters to mail in their ballots. There are a few that interest political junkies, such as who will finish in the top two in some legislative and congressional districts. But the real games will be decided in November — whether California will play a role in the national duel for control of Congress, and the rivalry between progressives and moderates for control of the state Assembly.

Another factor that undercuts voter motivation in this primary is the lack of high-profile ballot measures.

For decades, California’s constitution declared that statewide initiative measures could appear only on a “general election” ballot, presumably the November election. In 1971, however, a young secretary of state named Jerry Brown decreed that measures could be placed on the primary ballot as well.

Three years later, Brown used his own ruling to place Proposition 9, a political reform measure, on the 1974 primary ballot — a major factor in his successful campaign for governor that year.

For the next four decades, primary election ballots included some of the state’s most far-reaching, hard-fought ballot measures that drew voters to the polls, including Proposition 13, the iconic tax limitation measure in 1978.

In 2011, however, Brown, once again governor, countermanded his own 1971 decree by signing legislation to once again confine initiative measures to the November general election ballot.

Click here to read the full article in CALMatters

Confusion, Contradictions Swirl in Lead-Up to California Primary

California’s primary election is here at last — and with it a jumble of contradictions and confusing communication.

First up: Erratic emails. Californians searching for information on how to cast their ballots (which you can find in CalMatters’ Voter Guide) may have been baffled by a series of Monday emails from the secretary of state’s office, which oversees statewide elections.

  • At 11:13 a.m., the office sent an email alerting voters in certain counties that they could begin casting their ballots in person on May 28 — a date that passed about a week and a half ago.
  • Then, at 2:03 p.m., the office sent another email with the subject line: “Please disregard previous email — Election Day is Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 7th — Early in-person voting options available now!!”
  • The secretary of state’s office did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Whether the email’s double exclamation point will motivate voters to head to the polls remains to be seen — but what is clear is that California is on track to potentially break its low-turnout record, despite more ways than ever to vote.

  • Kimela Ezechukwu, a Los Angeles County Democrat, told the Los Angeles Times that she hasn’t voted yet because she’s lost trust in elected officials.
  • Ezechukwu: “They’re all the same. They say what they need to say to get you to vote.”
  • Voter trust in the Los Angeles Police Department has also dropped steeply, with just 38% of the city’s registered voters saying they approve of the department’s overall performance, down from 77% in 2009, according to a new poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and the Los Angeles Times. Nevertheless, 47% of voters said the next mayor should increase the size of the police force.
  • Eric Schickler, co-director of the Institute of Governmental StudiesThe findings highlight the “ambivalence and complication in how the public thinks about policing.”

Californians’ complex — and at times contradictory — opinions on criminal justice, public safety and homelessness will also be on display in two high-profile, high-dollar races on today’s ballot:

  • The race for Los Angeles mayor, into which billionaire Rick Caruso has dumped an unprecedented $37.5 million of his own money — resulting in an almost comical level of airwave domination. To wit: Although Caruso didn’t participate in a May 20 mayoral forum on homelessness, his campaign “paid to run banner advertising, which appeared over the top of the streaming video of the debate on The Times’ website,” a Los Angeles Times article ruefully read. “That meant that, as the debating candidates discussed priorities for the unhoused, Caruso’s smiling face loomed above them, with the messages ‘Caruso Can Clean up L.A.’ and ‘Vote for Rick.’”
  • The recall of progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, reflecting a rapid and sharp shift in voter concerns from “criminal justice reform, over-incarceration, police conduct” to “this feeling that things are just not going well,” Jason McDaniel, a San Francisco State associate professor of political science, told the Washington Post.

The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 8,989,279 confirmed cases (+0.4% from previous day) and 90,815 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

Click here to read the full article in CALMatters

EXCLUSIVE: California Globe Interview With President Donald Trump, Part 2

The California Globe had the opportunity to meet with Former United States President Donald Trump Friday in Los Angeles in a one-on-one interview, while he was in the state on business. We discussed the state of the State of California. As expected, President Trump had plenty to say about the politics of our unique state.

This is Part 2 of the series; Here is Part 1.

“The one thing with me is I have a big voice,” President Donald Trump said as we discussed whether or not California’s elections can be cleaned up. “Because nobody ever writes this story – I haven’t seen this story,” he added.

“California is totally corrupt,” the 45th President told the Globe. “And frankly it has to be when you send out 20 million ballots. It has to be.”

Trump continued: “And many people got two, three four or five ballots! I’ve seen this on television. And people say to me ‘I got five ballots.’”

“It’s a disgrace.”

“What the Republicans do is allow it to happen without a fuss,” President Trump said. “The Democrats would go crazy” if they were on the receiving end of mailed ballots, ballot harvesting, and funny business with elections.

“See, I don’t believe the Democrats are a 50/50 Party. I think they cheat on all elections,” Trump added. “Because when you have ‘defund the police,’ sanctuary cities, open borders, all of the drugs you want, no God, no guns, I don’t believe that is a 50/50 Party. I think Democrats cheat in elections, and the Republicans are just as guilty because they let them.”

“Look at Pennsylvania – the Republicans allow them to cheat by being weak,” Trump said. “But I don’t believe they are a 50/50 Party because of all of the things they stand for so strongly – ‘defund the police,’ sanctuary cities, open borders.”

“Look at now – look at inflation,” he said. “We had no inflation. We had it down to a perfect science. We had no inflation and we had low interest rates.”

“I mean this guy [President Joe Biden] is going to be the next Herbert Hoover. Or worse,” President Trump said.

Under President Herbert Hoover, the 31st president (1929-1933), elected on the eve of the Great Depression, the top tax rate was hiked from 25% to 63%. “Perhaps his single greatest policy blunder was supporting and signing into law a tariff act that fueled international trade wars and made the Depression even worse,” USNews reported.

“He could be a combination of Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter,” Trump continued. “Jimmy Carter was almost Herbert Hoover.”

Under President Jimmy Carter, the 39th President (1976-1980) inflation rose from 7% in 1977 by an average of more than 11% in 1979, up to nearly 14% in 1980. “Automobile prices increased 72%. New house prices went up 67%. In 1979 alone, gasoline prices increased 60%. By the time Carter left office, the prime rate was 21.5%, Human Events reported. Gas prices skyrocketed to (inflation-adjusted price) $4.14, which made it the 5th most expensive year in an 85-year span.

“Whereas we had the strongest economy in the history of the world,” President Trump said. “We created the strongest economy in history. There was never an economy like this.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Woman Finds Box of Mail-in Ballots on East Hollywood Sidewalk; LA County Registrar Investigating

The Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office and the United States Postal Service are investigating after 104 ballots were found unopened on the sidewalk in East Hollywood.

The ballots were found by Christina Repaci, who was walking her dog Saturday evening.

“I turned the corner and I just saw this box of envelopes, and it was a USPS box. I picked some envelopes up and I saw they were ballots,” said Repaci.

Repaci said she took them home for safekeeping while trying to figure out what to do next. She sent videos of the ballots to popular social media accounts to share the content and ask for guidance on next steps. Repaci said she called several politicians and the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

“I actually called the Sheriff’s Department. I couldn’t get through, so I emailed them,” she said. “I got an email back from a deputy basically in so many words saying it wasn’t their problem, and to contact the USPS.”

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Repaci said after much back and forth, the LA County Registrar’s Office got in contact with her about picking up the ballots. Registrar Dean Logan personally drove to pick up the ballots.

“He (Logan) picked them up. I made sure he was legit. He gave me a card, and took a photo of the box,” she said.

Repaci described the process as “stressful.”

“It was so much stress and for just one person to get back to me. What do I do here? Now if it happens to someone else, they don’t know what to do. They’ll just put them in a dumpster or throw them in the trash. I just don’t think it should have been this hard to figure out what to do with legal ballots. This is a country of freedom and our votes should matter and something like this should never happen,” said Repaci. 

The LA County Registrar’s Office released a statement:

“Our office was notified over the weekend of a mail tray found containing approximately 104 unopened, outbound Vote by Mail ballots and additional mail pieces. Thanks to the cooperation of the person who found the ballots, we were able to quickly respond and coordinate the secure pickup of the ballots. We have reissued new ballots to the impacted voters. Early signs indicate that this was an incident of mail theft and not a directed attempt at disrupting the election. We are cooperating with the United States Postal Service and law enforcement to investigate.

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews