To Jill Barad & Associates
15030 Ventura Blvd., #530
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.
Phone (818) 990-4002. Fax (818) 990-4066.
February 13, 2003
SUB: Election Challenge
RE: Van Nuys Neighborhood Council Election of February 8, 2003
To: Election Administrator, Jill Barad
Challenged Candidates: Daisy Garcia, Gloria Fuentes, Robert Duran, Hilda Garcia, Robert Kanter, Amalia Sanchez, Maggie Estrada, Marriane Kanter, Herlinda de Zavela
I am challenging the validity of the win by The Challenged Candidates for seats on the Board of Directors of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council on the following grounds:
1) ILLEGAL ELECTIONEERING:
I observed what to me was clearly a violation of the Los Angeles Ordinance of the Election Code, Section 64:
No officer of election, nor any other person, shall do any electioneering, solicit a vote, or speak to a voter on the subject of marking his/her ballot on election day within 100 feet of any polling place; nor shall any vehicle that has a banner or placard soliciting a vote or recommending any candidate, measure or proposition remain standing, except for the discharge or loading of passengers, nor shall any person or persons loiter on the premises while the polls are open. (Section amended by Ord. 173,533, Eff. 10-4-00.)
I arrived at the poll located at 14540 Victory Bl, Van Nuys, 91401 at about 1:30 PM. There were at least two unidentified activists standing 50 feet or less from the poll entrance (see exhibit 1) who were handing flyers (see exhibit 2) with Spanish registration forms stapled to them, to Hispanic sidewalk passers-by and urging them to vote for those listed, including The Challenged Candidates, on the flyers' slate. Witnesses told me that the activists had been electioneering at the same location since 11:30 AM when the poll opened.
When I reported what I thought was illegal electioneering to D.O.N.E. officials, I was told that as long as the activists were 50 ft or beyond, that they were not violating any rules. I thought that the distance should have been 100 feet, but assumed that perhaps the ordinance had recently been changed, so I decided that I would pass out flyers of my own. Standing along side of the activists, I heard and saw their actions (I am conversant in Spanish).
The passers-by, who obviously knew nothing of the election and had no intention of voting that day, were solicited and told in Spanish that if they voted for the candidates listed on the slate, various social services would be provided to Hispanics. The solicited passers-by were pointed in the direction of the poll entrance and at times escorted part of the way to the entrance. In one instance, I witnessed a passer-by who when asked if he lived in Van Nuys, replied that he lived in Mexico and was just visiting. The activist then told the passer-by that even if he lived in Mexico, he was still eligible to vote if he was at that moment living in Van Nuys. One man to whom the activist handed a flyer, said he didn't have any identification. The activist assured the man that he didn't need any.
At about 3:00 pm, after the activists had already electioneered 3 1/2 hours at the illegal 50 feet limit (sometimes less), a Mr. Wilke came out and told the activists and me that the limit is actually 100 feet. We moved to the new limit. The sudden change in rules, made me wonder if, when I started electioneering on my own behalf, the rules were changed because I came on the scene.
During the window of time (1 1/2 hours) that I stood alongside of the activists at the 50 feet limit, I observed at least six passers-by, who never woke up that morning knowing that they would be voting in an election that they never heard of, walk into the voting place with the slate provided by the activists, to vote. I did not actually witness the six persons vote because I didn't follow them into the voting booth, but they probably did. I cannot provide an accurate count of how many passers-by voted who were illegally solicited from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm, but enough passers-by were seen entering the poll to vote to conclude election uncertainty to declare The Challenged Candidates' win invalid.
2) SELECTIVELY REQUIRING PROOF OF IDENTITY:
A double standard of verification of identity was being practiced. Established Van Nuys residents and citizens were asked to produce proof of identification while Hispanic voters solicited off the street by activists were told that they did not require any ID in order to vote. Some would-be voters when asked for IDs by the election administrators, apparently were intimidated and left without voting. This upset Herman Barahona, D.O.N.E. Project Coordinator. At about 3:00 pm, when I went to move one of my campaign signs placed about 50 feet east of the poll entrance, I heard Barahona, who had quietly walked to the location away from the election administrators, shouting into his cell phone: "They're turning them away." I do not know to whom Barahona was speaking. Following the call, and after Barahona apparently instructed the election administrators not to question passers-by about whether or not they had IDs, one of the administrators asked in a loud voice "do you want me to ask for IDs or not?" With me standing there, Barahona did not answer. When I asked him why some people were asked for identification and others not, he said that if voters signed the form swearing that they lived where they said they did, that that was good enough. When I asked him if the addresses of those who did not have IDs would be verified after the election, he said "no." Barahona dismissed my comment that there didn't seem to be any point in asking anyone for identification.
Since some of the voters for The Challenged Candidates could not produce proof of identification and D.O.N.E. will not verify the voters' proof of identity, their win should be declared invalid.
6709 Vesper Avenue
Van Nuys, CA 91405
Tel 818-989-3043, Fax 818-989-1905