Friday, August 25, 2006

San Diego Election Challenge Goes To Court Today

I've been flooded by a swirl of new documents in the past few hours. There's not much I need to say beyond quoting a few passages for you. This is about the lawsuit brought by San Diego voters to challenge the election for California's 50th district Congressional seat. Paul Lehto is the attorney representing plaintiffs/citizens/voters Barbara Gail Jacobson and Lillian Ritt. Here are excerpts from a statement released by Lehto late Thursday night:

UPDATE / OUTLOOK: The Defendants filed motions to dismiss on Tuesday set for hearing Friday at 1:30 coinciding with the Court's previously ordered hearing at the same time for purposes of determining how the case will proceed after reading the trial briefs of the parties. The motions to dismiss are based on the argument of Rep. Bilbray and Registrar Haas that the Court has no jurisdiction on account of Art. I, sec. 5 of the United States constitution, which provides that the House and Senate are to judge the qualifications of their members, and further arguing that the House's authority to do so is exclusive, thus depriving the California courts of any jurisdiction. If true, the swift swearing in of Bilbray (7 days, which may set an all time record) specifically PRIOR to certification would ALSO deprive Haas of any jurisdiction to certify the results. Simply put, according to the defendants own arguments triggered by the swearing in of Bilbray on June 13, every action of San Diego County thereafter which included the counting of votes and provisional votes, was null and void. Thus, the defendants are directly arguing that the swearing in of Bilbray completely terminated the election in the 50th Cong. District, prior to the official certification of the results, upon which all legal aspects of elections are actually dependent.

Secondarily, the Rep. Bibray is bringing an anti-SLAPP claim for attorney fees against citizens Jacobson and citizen Ritt, claiming that these citizens have mounted a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, specifically in violation of the First Amendment rights of Rep. Bilbray. It is, of course, absurd to suggest that two citizens have strategically prevented the "public participation" of Rep. Bilbray when the very question of his election is at bar, and Rep Bilbray has enough backing of the House of Representatives of the United STates of America to get himself sworn in only 7 days after the election while votes are still being counted.
For more details, see this brief (.pdf) submitted to the court on the plaintiffs' behalf, opposing the defendants motions. For readers in the area wishing to witness the proceedings:
TIME: HEARING ON ELECTION CONTEST AND MOTIONS TO DISMISS IS AT 1:30 PM Friday, August 25, 2006, San Diego Superior Court, Dept 60, 330 Broadway, San Diego, CA, 92101 The Honorable Yuri Hofman, Judge.
This summary timeline was included among Lehto's other publicly released statements last night:
On June 6, 2006 Republican Brian Bilbray allegedly slightly outpolled Democrat Francine Busby in the special election for California'’s 50th Congressional District, despite Busby'’s lead in the polls going into the election. There were immediate cries of foul following the election due to major irregularities, including electronic voting machines sent out to the homes and cars of volunteers for up to 12 days prior to the election, and irregular election results like huge mega-precincts of absentee ballots where turnout was thousands of percent more than registered voters.

On June 13, 2006, Bilbray flew to Washington, DC and was sworn in as a member of the United States House of Representatives by House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

On or about June 30, 2006, 17 days after Bilbray was sworn in as a member of the House, Mikel Haas, Registrar of San Diego County, officially completed the audit of election results required for certification, and officially certified the election of Bilbray over Busby based on 163,931 votes cast, of which 2,053 votes were said to be cast on Diebold TSX touchscreens, and the remainder scanned via Diebold Accuvote OS computers.

On July 31, 2006, the Contestants filed an election contest, seeking a hand recount and to invalidate the election on several grounds, not only including the affirmative evidence of irregular results, but also including the stonewalling of citizen information requests and the pricing of recounts at an estimated $150,000 that made it difficult or impossible for any citizen to tell who won the election.

On August 22, 2006 the defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that the swearing in of Bilbray deprives everyone else of jurisdiction including specifically the San Diego Superior Court because Art. I, sec. 5 of the US Constitution has been held to mean that the House and Senate are the judges of the Qualifications of their Members, one of those qualifications is supposed to be "election."
WDNC will have more on this developing story on Friday evening.

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Posted by Dave Berman - 2:44 AM | Permalink
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"The motions to dismiss are based on the argument of Rep. Bilbray and Registrar Haas that the Court has no jurisdiction on account of Art. I, sec. 5 of the United States constitution, which provides that the House and Senate are to judge the qualifications of their members, and further arguing that the House's authority to do so is exclusive, thus depriving the California courts of any jurisdiction."

So they're saying that the House and Senate don't need election results to decide who's a member? This has got to be the most blatant demonstration yet that we are not living in a democracy any more.

Lawsuits my shiny metal you-know, this is time to march in the streets and demand our country back.

Posted by Blogger Kathryn @ Aug 25, 2006, 3:11:00 AM
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