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Southern California Election Officials Respond To Issa’s Allegation Of Vote Count Interference

Southern California Election Officials Respond To Issa’s Allegation of Vote Count Interference


Edward Foley, law professor, The Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law


Registrars of voters in Southern California are defending the vote count in a tight congressional race after incumbent Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, questioned its validity.

Issa is ahead of challenger Doug Applegate by two percentage points with about 20,000 more provisional ballots to be counted. In a fundraising email, Issa claimed liberals are trying to steal the election and that if his lead shrinks, they could "force the Registrars to allow thousands of illegal, unregistered voters to influence the election,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

In a post on Twitter, the Republican congressman asked followers, “Can you help me make sure this election isn’t stolen?” It included a link to a letter on his campaign website, but the tweet and letter have since been deleted.

Photo by KPBS Staff

A screenshot of a tweet from Rep. Darrell Issa's campaign account, taken Nov. 16, 2016. The tweet has since been deleted.

San Diego County Registrar Michael Vu denied that he could be coerced into adding unregistered voters’ provisional ballots in the certified results.

"We’ll be verifying every single provisional ballot that was cast and determine whether it was eligible to be counted," Vu said.

Reached by phone, Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley echoed the sentiment.

“If they’re not a registered voter, they’re not going to be counted. It doesn’t matter how close the contest is,” Kelley said.

The congressional district overlaps both counties.

Calvin Moore, a spokesman for the Issa campaign, said he is confident votes will be tallied correctly but reviewing voter eligibility is common practice in tight elections.

“In a close race, it's standard practice for both teams to have legal experts help review provisionals to be sure everything is square,” he wrote in an email to KPBS. “The legal teams review ballots — and both teams do this — and raise a ‘challenge’ to provisional ballots that appear to be from voters outside the district or in some other way needs further review by the ROV to ensure the ballot was legally cast.”

Issa’s email called on supporters to help fund this review, according to a version of the letter shared by the Seaside Courier.

Issa is up by 4,576 votes. There are 8,000 provisional ballots left to be tallied in Orange County, Kelley said. In San Diego, Vu said approximately 11,000 to 13,000 provisional votes need to be counted.

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