A number of claims have been made since the election regarding widespread election fraud in Isla Vista. After a re-count failed to give Steve Pappas the supervisor seat, he and some of his supporters began to make allegations challenging the legitimacy of votes cast in the 18 precincts of Isla Vista with hopes of overturning the election’s outcome. However, these claims appear to be unfounded and this forces me to question Pappas’ intent.
Here in the pages of the Nexus, Ryan McNicholas (director of the UCSB College Republicans) has claimed that “there was a 100.2 percent turnout” and insinuates that this indicates wrongdoing (“Pappas May be Justified in Pursuing Voter Case,” Daily Nexus, Feb. 10). However, voters can turn their absentee ballots into any precinct and can file a provisional ballot in any precinct. Due to long lines at some precincts, many opted to do just that. Across the precincts, there was an 89 percent turnout, only 3 percent higher than the county average.
In court, Pappas has claimed that because Box 12 on a registration card was not filled out, the vote should be discounted. Regardless of whether registrars were required to complete that box, California Elections Code 2158(b)(1) makes it clear that failure to complete Box 12 “shall not cause the invalidation of the registration of a voter.” Pappas and his attorney knew of this section (I wrote to them back in January to point it out), and yet they proceeded to make this claim in court. As they knew would happen, Judge J. William McLafferty dismissed this claim.
Pappas also claimed that because volunteers did not turn in registration cards within three days of collecting them, the votes should be discounted. However, Elections Code 2107(a) states that the county shall accept registrations “at all times” during the registration window. The sections that state that cards must be submitted in three days, and the sanctions they discuss, apply to the registration volunteers and not to the voters. The code makes it very clear that any minor technicalities are not to invalidate a vote; again, Judge McLafferty acted appropriately by ignoring Pappas’ claims.
With these issues addressed, it remains to be seen what Pappas intends to claim. Until Mr. Pappas provides real evidence, I am forced to question the motives of the suit. All too often, political elements make cavalier claims of election fraud. Many would like to eliminate the voices of minorities or young people (demographics which are present in the 18 precincts Pappas targets).
Aside from a straight-faced attempt to disenfranchise students, it seems Mr. Pappas is up to other political tricks. I certainly don’t want votes to be cast improperly, but looking at the laws and the facts as they stand, this does not seem to be a case based on legitimate concerns of fraud. Pappas seems to be trying to do two things. First, this trial appears to be a dog and pony show designed to drum up support for future redistricting of the 3rd District. By alleging interference by “the activist courts,” “the liberal college students” or some vast left-wing conspiracy, Pappas seemingly intends to encourage the Santa Ynez Valley to demand UCSB be placed into the 2nd District, in order to silence environmentally-minded voters.
Second, Mr. Pappas seems to be trying to intimidate UCSB officials, student leaders and volunteers who participated in the voter registration drive. By subpoenaing the entire school for student records and by forcing volunteers to testify before a court, Mr. Pappas appears to intend to inconvenience and distract students who should be focusing on their schoolwork. Submitting students to stressful, unfounded allegations is a way to weaken future civic participation by young people, and though this might not be surprising coming from conservatives, it is disgraceful.
If Mr. Pappas does have legitimate evidence of improper voting, I am eager to see it. Until then, Mr. Pappas’ selective targeting of student precincts intends to disenfranchise young people, inconvenience our courts, tarnish the reputation of our community with our neighbors and intimidate hard-working volunteers. Don’t let him get away with this partisan hacking.