(Editor’s Note: The following press release came from Kimberly Ellis’ campaign. Kimberly Ellis ran for chair of the California Democratic Party and lost to Eric Bauman by a very narrow margin).
(From Press Release) – Initial inquiries into nearly 300 questionable ballots in the unsettled May 20 contest for state Democratic Party chair show that Eric Bauman was named the winner based on ineligible votes and votes of dubious authenticity that may be set aside upon further review. Bauman benefited from several votes cast by non-Democrats, in clear violation of Party rules.
Excluding the more than 200 ballots with signature mismatches and questions around dues-payment eligibility requirements, at least 47 ballots for Bauman in the chair’s contest were ineligible or bear the hallmarks of organized manipulation. More than 30 ballots for Bauman should have been, but were not, disqualified.
Several Bauman proxy votes, or ballots cast in the name of Democratic delegates who were not present, came from people who were not qualified under Party eligibility standards to cast ballots, were not registered to vote, or who were not registered as Democrats.
Ineligible votes credited to Bauman include:
- 2 votes from proxies who are not Democrats;
- 4 votes from proxies who don’t appear to be registered to vote in California;
- 14 votes by proxies without proper authorization forms available, which are required for voting in the Party;
- 16 votes on ballots with no signature on the credential sign-in sheet;
- 3 votes from proxy voters who are registered at a different place from information provided on their proxy forms;
- 5 votes from proxy voters who did not sign in at the convention, a requirement to vote under Party rules;
- 1 vote from a proxy residing outside the district of his assigning delegate;
- 1 vote from a proxy residing outside the county of her assigning delegate; and
- 1 person who carried a proxy and his own vote, in violation of state Party rules that limit members to casting 1 ballot.
In addition to these 47 ballots, another 134 ballots for Bauman show a mismatch between the signatures on the ballot and the sign-in rosters at convention credentialing tables.
There are also more than 100 other votes for Bauman for which dues payment information or other required fees for participation in the convention cannot be verified. Because of the extraordinary reliance on lawmakers’ staff and former staff of the Party, the initial inquiry indicates that the usual dues requirements were circumvented in scores of cases, the lion’s share of them for Bauman supporters.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times called on Eric Bauman to allow the vote in the chair’s contest to go before a full,
fair, and independent review. That call echoes those from Democratic delegates from throughout the state, including in the Spanish-language press.
Some of the ineligible ballots cast in error but counted for Bauman involve serious violations of Party procedures. These include double votes, votes from proxy voters who flouted eligibility requirements for such stand-ins, and the proxy votes by unregistered voters and voters who are not Democrats, all of which are forbidden under Party bylaws.
Tallies released the night of the vote, May 20, at the Party’s convention, showed Bauman edging progressive nonprofit executive Kimberly Ellis by a scant 62 votes, 1,493 to 1,431. Ellis and her team immediately raised questions about the balloting and its validity, refusing to concede the contest.
If even 55 ineligible votes had been eliminated from Bauman’s total, a revote would have been called for under Party bylaws at the Sunday morning session of the convention. If 63 votes had been eliminated, the election outcome would be reversed.
How did non-Democrats come to vote for Bauman — proxies for David Heywood and Alejandra Valles in L.A. County — or people living outside of AD 48 or Monterey County — proxies for Deborah Quintero and Linda Gonzalez — vote as representing Democrats in those locations when living elsewhere? These votes raise additional questions about the conduct of the election and its announced outcome.
Unlike many other elections, ballots in the California Democratic Party are tailored to each eligible voter and signed by the voter, with all documentation from the election due to be preserved. This makes review of the ballots, based on the Party’s bylaws and commitment to transparency, both possible and a common presumption of Party leaders and rank and file members.
With votes from ineligible voters playing such a pivotal role in the outcome of the election, a thorough, impartial and independent review of the ballots and related materials takes on added importance. The California Democratic Party owes its leaders, its millions of members statewide, and its future nothing less.