Nearly five months after Election Day, Santa Barbara County’s 3rd District finally has an undisputed representative.
Earlier this month, the election of Doreen Farr – who has been actively serving as 3rd District Supervisor since January – was upheld in court, effectively putting an end to Steve Pappas’ attempt to overturn the November contest. The decision came on Mar. 16, when Superior Court Judge William McLafferty ruled that Pappas lacked the evidence to contest the election results.
In handing down his ruling, McLafferty said that Pappas’ legal team failed to bring forth any evidence of voter fraud and essentially wasted the County’s time.
“You’re not making your case, I’m just not buying it,” McLafferty, addressing Pappas’s attorney Jeff Lake, said at the trial. “If you have any evidence of any fraud I think I should hear about it, but I haven’t heard it.”
Pappas, who lost the election by 806 votes, first filed a lawsuit contesting the results in January, alleging endemic voter fraud throughout UCSB and Isla Vista’s 18 voting precincts. Early on, Pappas focused on the potential mishandling of registration forms by third parties – most notably the Associated Students and Campus Democrats – claiming that procedural errors rendered up to 9,700 student votes invalid.
Following a decision by McLafferty deeming such evidence irrelevant, however, Pappas’ legal team turned much of its attention to the minutiae of the County Elections Office and their handling of election documents. County Registrar Joe Holland, who heads the election office, was among those called to the stand.
After effectively ending Pappas’ case with his ruling, McLafferty then questioned whether Lake’s handling of the election office amounted to harassment.
“I think they deserve some sort of credibility,” McLafferty said of the election office staff. “I didn’t see any examples that I thought were bad form or bad conduct or bad motives… nothing but trying to work for the good of the people.”