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* Any donations to the above link will now go into our Recount Legal Fund.
UPDATE 4/27/20:

We are getting closer to a big announcement on the legal front in achieving not just the full recount for Measure Aillegally denied us by our dishonest LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Loganbut indeed a restoration of nothing less than full electoral integrity in Los Angeles County.

It all comes down to the new voting system, called VSAP, which LA County spent $300 million and ten years custom designing, and which has too many dangerous (to democracy) flaws to enumerate them all here. 

To us, the flaws first began to appear when our own endorsed "Long Beach Reform Ticket" City Council candidate Robert Fox was relegated to a hidden second page on the District 2 candidates list, accessible only by means of a 'More' button.  (We'll never know how many voters missed the 'More' button, or confused it with the 'Next' button, but Robert came out in first place in a crowded field nonetheless and advances to the November runoff.)  And of course the flaws showed up on primetime national television on election night (which was also presidential Super Tuesday), with scenes of voters waiting in hours-long lines until nearly midnight.

And then came our Long Beach Measure A recount, which exposed one of the biggest flaws in the system, apparently one too many for Dean Logan's sense of job security and one he tried everything to prevent us from exposing.  VSAP takes millions of ballots, which used to be automatically sorted by precinct/polling place, and mixes them all together.  And they get left that way, in over five thousand boxes stored in a County warehouse in Downey, until someone asks for a recount.  And then the County tells the recount requestor, 'Sorry, but that would be almost impossible.  If you really want us to pick out your particular city's or district's ten-, 20-, 100 thousand ballots from the 2.1 million in five thousand boxes, you'll have to pay a completely preposterous amount of money to get us to do an incredibly difficult task which we created for ourselves.  Still want a recount?'

This is the absurd situation leading us into court against LA County, not just to get the Measure A recount done, but to ensure quite literally that recounts can be done for years to come.  This is no longer just about one recount.  This is about trusting Los Angeles County to count millions of ballots without any way, effectively, to audit the machine count with human eyes on ballots. 

Right now, under the new VSAP system, our ballots are counted by one piece of software tabulating ballots stored as scanned images on servers by another piece of software.  This method of machine vote tabulation is a truly extreme example of non-transparency, and for a process which ought to be more transparent than anything else in government.  The computer systems are supposedly "air-gapped" (i.e. not connected to the internet) for security, yet a simple flash drive could potentially be used to hack the results.  California Secretary of State Alex Padilla gave VSAP conditional approval last year, noting the need to "restrict USB access on the workstations and servers", yet not requiring that the issue actually be resolved before the primary election (for more on this, see Susan Shelley's excellent piece in the OC Register). 

Do you trust one computer to count the votes stored on another computer, without any feasible method for the public to verify and audit the paper trail?

We don't.  And we certainly don't when it comes to a 16-vote margin, out of one hundred thousand ballots, on a $60 million per year city sales tax.  That's a tax, by the way, which will be crushing local retail and restaurants, which already operate on razor-thin margins, when the reeling small business economy eventually emerges from complete shut down.

Luckily, this fight for electoral integrity has drawn the backing of others beyond Long Beach, and today we are pleased to announce the enthusiastic support of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association.  HJTA has decided to donate a $20,000 grant toward our litigation!  This represents a huge step toward getting our lawsuit filed and before a judge as soon as possible.  Thanks to great organizations like HJTA and locally CARP (Citizens About Responsible Planning), and the tremendous grassroots support of over 300 individual donors to the recount, we will defend our democratic right to a transparent election process.

Please keep donating, as our litigation costs are difficult to predict, including potential additional costs down the road to complete the recount.  We'll let you know when our suit is filed and we can make the big announcement official!

In the meantime, here is a letter we sent last week to Cal. Sec. of State Padilla, informing him in detail of the mockery which Dean Logan made of our recount process and asking for his intervention:
 

UPDATE 4/14/20:

Please voice your objection to today's City Council Agenda Item #9 (and request that it be pulled from the 'consent calendar' for council discussion), which would officially accept the certified results of the March 3rd election in Long Beach in whole, with no mention of the pending dispute over Measure A (a recount process illegally halted by the County Clerk yesterday and now headed toward litigation) by sending a comment to the Long Beach eComment system.  All comments go to the City Clerk for distribution to the mayor and council and must be received by 4pm today:

https://longbeach.granicusideas.com/meetings/3115-city-council/agenda_items/5e90dbc22443983d46005a35-20-0278-recommendation-to-adopt-resolution-decla
 



For more on this, please see this article from LBReport.com:  

April 14 Council Item Would Put City On Record Accepting County-Counted 16-Vote Passage Of Measure A Despite Ongoing Recount. Elections Code Doesn't Appear To Require This. Here's What Councilmembers Could Do To Respect Nearly Half of LB's Voters
UPDATE 4/13/20:

At approximately 2:30pm today, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan rejected our offer to continue the Long Beach Measure A recount process in a manner in accordance with the state Election Code, rather than the illegal, illegitimate, and farcical process we witnessed last week.  We made that demand in the form of a letter (attached to this 8:30 a.m. press release) hand delivered shortly after 9:00 a.m. this morning.

We then waited patiently for five and a half hours, our recount suspended in limbo, until Mr. Logan directed his Election Division manager Alex Olvera to hand us a letter from County Counsel which made it clear that he would terminate the recount unilaterally at 5pm today, despite our having brought the requisite daily deposit amount (according to his office's own published "Requesting A Recount 2020" guidelines).  County Counsel's letter also falsely suggested that we had agreed to their untested, untried, newly devised digital facsimile recount method, which in fact we had explicitly rejected in writing with our payment on the first day of the recount process last week.

The one thing that this absurd, contrived, entirely unsanctioned (by the Election Code) new recount process (which it took them three days last week just to put into motion) demonstrated with regard to Measure A is that the original machine count was not accurate and may easily be inaccurate enough to change the outcome of the election after a traditional hand recount. 

We witnessed scanned images of enough overvotes, likely misread in the original machine count, that a full manual recount of all physical ballots was clearly called for.  Even as we left today, Logan had still not yet decided on even the first of our rejected ballot challenges lodged beginning last Wednesday, the first day of this process, yet just among those type of challenges alone the potential clearly was there to overturn Measure A.

By unilaterally shutting down our recount, Mr. Logan has not only flagrantly violated state law, he has denied us the democratic right of a recount.  Indeed, he has effectively denied all 10+ million Los Angeles County residents that right.

This stunning, illegal conduct on the part of our county's chief election officer cannot and will not stand.  We have two weeks to file a court challenge and will announce our next steps in due course.  Please feel free reach out and contact LBRC with your thoughts on the matter as our board deliberates over the coming days.

As always, thank you for your vigilant support for local democracy.  As Ben Franklin said, what we've got is: "A republic, if you can keep it."  Now we just have to keep it.
UPDATE 4/11/20:

The short version is that, in one day (Friday, when the County finally got their new recount process in some way operational enough at least to judge its performance), with just a fraction of precincts reviewed, we believe we netted at least two to three more No votes on Measure A, and possibly many, many more depending on our pending ballot challenges. 

We believe several ballots recounted Friday were misread by the original machine count as 'over-votes', that is to say votes not counted because there were marks on or very near the circles for both Yes and No.  Yet all those in the room (each room being a "recount board" of four County workers, plus supervisors and public observers) agreed that one of the marks appeared inadvertent, or so slight as not to represent voter intent, while the other circle was filled in and clearly intended to be a vote.  Such over-votes would not have added a Yes or NO vote in the machine count, but should yield one in the recount.  And that is the point of the recount:  to train human eyes and judgment on every single ballot.

In one or two cases, such over-votes going back into the count it appears may have yielded extra Yes votes.  But we observed more cases which look to have yielded No votes, netting we believe two to three more for No on Measure A.  Unfortunately, due to the many complications arising from the County's dishonesty and incompetence in readying and operationalizing a recount process with the new voting system, only 7.3% of Long Beach ballots were recounted during the first three days (Wed.-Fri.).  Under the old system, the entire recount would have been completed by now.

This horribly anti-democratic consequence (monstrously inflating the cost and difficulty of the entire process) has been noted in the press due to our recount, particularly this excellent editorial in the Los Angeles Daily News.  According to them, we have exposed yet another major flaw in the new voting system, and therefore the County should pay for the vast majority of the costs the County Clerk's office is trying to foist on us. 

And here's the long version, with much further detail on how things have gone so far...


LA County's New Voting System is Failing the Test of its First Recount

We have already explained how we have been lied to by LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan's office in the lead up to this recount. 

Shortly before the March 3rd election was certified on March 27th, his office published an online handbook called "Requesting A Recount 2020" which provided only minor inflationary adjustments to prior-year daily deposit requirements (which also serve as cost estimates) for members of the public wishing to invoke their right to a recount.  We now know that that handbook served as a cover up for yet another major failing of Logan's new disastrous $300 million voting system.

Friday, Day 3 of the recount, his office finally delivered (just) four recount "boards" (teams of four County workers each), after delivering zero boards on Day 1 of the recount (Wed.) and two boards on Day 2, which only began work late in the afternoon

While no employees of the County Clerk's office have been diagnosed with COVID-19, in-person staffing in his office has of course been eviscerated by health concerns.  Understandably, older workers and those with preexisting conditions have been sent to work from home, making them unavailable to work on recount boards.  Other employees simply are not showing up to work, using their vacation days or other time off.  On any given day, the Clerk's office in Norwalk is down by as much as half it's staff, according to those we spoke with.

And yet, in a letter to us on behalf of Mr. Logan, County Counsel persists in the lie that his office's ability to perform our Measure A recount has in no way been compromised:


Amid the absurd behemoth bureaucracies of Los Angeles County, we are, on the one hand, constantly told each day by our recount coordinator, County Clerk's office Election Division Manager Alex Olvera, that he cannot provide a sufficient number of recount boards because so many employees are missing from the building due to COVID concerns, and on the other hand, by County Counsel, that COVID has not impacted their ability to carry out the recount and therefore they "decline to seek judicial intervention", the obvious remedy. 

Only a judge can order an extension to the recount process due to an extraordinary public health crisis, and it's hard to imagine any judge would not be sympathetic to an emergency request by LA County under the circumstances.  Yet they refuse to ask.  Why?  Could it be that they really just don't want to see this recount completed, which has the potential to add further embarrassment by proving that the election was administered incompetently?

Instead of a capably run recount, what we have witnessed quite frankly has been little more than a farce.  We were "offered" a real recount of real ballots, that is actual, physical ballots... for more than $200,000 more than their just-published cost estimates, and told that less than 24 hours before the recount.

Then we were "offered" an alternative of a scanned ballot image recount, which is completely untested and unproven, and told that it would still be significantly more expensive than the published cost estimates and probably far slower, 3,000 to 6,000 ballots recounted per day per board versus 5,000 to 10,000 in the past.

In reality, Friday served as the first ever real world test of this process, and the results are in:  Each board was able to recount approximately just 1,500 ballots by the end of the day!

In other words, the new voting system has increased the cost for the traditional recount method (physical ballots) by a factor of at least 10, or 1,000%.  And the alternative scanned ballot method has increased the cost, when factoring in the pathetically low throughput rate, a factor of at least 5, or 500%.

What's more, the County's unwillingness to go to court to seek an extension to the statutory time frame has probably added another 50% at least in cost to the recount requestor on top of that.  Whereas, under their inflated new prices, concocted especially for us on the fly, for scanned ballot recounts (in which they make us pay for the development of the new display interface, which will then serve as a permanent part of their own IT infrastructure, kind of like making us pay for putting in the phone lines), the daily deposit for four recount boards, for example, is now $8,244.66.  Compare that to the cost they would charge for eight boards, if they could provide them, of $13,142.01.  The cost per board of four (about $2,060 each) is 26% higher than the cost per board of eight ($1,640).  We are allowed to request up to 75 boards, have requested ten per day, and have received four, only on Day 3 of the recount.  Before that, our daily payments yielded zero boards and less than a full board, respectively.

Under the old voting system, the recount could have been completed with ten boards in just one or two days, at a cost of perhaps $12,000 to $24,000.  Until less than 24 hours before our recount, that was the cost in their own published 2020 recount handbook.  The dishonesty of the County Clerk has truly been alarming.

Yet his dishonesty has possibly even been surpassed by his incompetence.  We all know the debacle of election day and night with this new voting system.  We have outlined how it disenfranchises the public out of a reasonable cost burden for any kind of recount, and most ridiculously for a traditional physical ballot recount.  Friday we observed that even the scanned ballot process "alternative" is full of glitches.

One of the most noteworthy being the fact that in order to perform a recount with each county worker on a board carrying out his or her function, while socially distanced, they and the public were each given separate monitors with which to view the ballots.  Those monitors, we were told, would be perfectly synchronized, so that everyone was seeing the same thing at the same time.  In fact, that was not the case.  Some monitors were displaying in sync, apparently directly connected to the same computer, and others were not.

In the case of one particular recount board (below), you can see that the monitor controlled by the worker on the right, the "caller" (who controls which ballot gets displayed and calls out the vote), is displaying ballots which only come up later for the "verifier" (who verifies the call of the caller), after a significant lag.  We later learned the lag was due to network delay, because the screen was not directly linked to the caller's computer, but rather linked to it through a "Skype meeting".

Click on image to view on youtube:
 

We also observed a huge difference in speed for some recount boards compared to others, possibly due to these kind of technical glitches and/or the pace of the County worker serving as the "caller".  On average, the fastest caller was moving his recount board at quite literally twice the pace of the slowest, a difference of about 4 seconds per call versus 8 seconds.  Even four seconds would be slow, had we been afforded physical ballots as in the old voting system.  It's much faster to lift a ballot from a pile and glance at it than it is to click open a PDF for each ballot, then scroll down to the location of Long Beach Measure A on it each time.

In sum, the huge set of hurdles thrown up in the path of a true recount of Measure A by this callous, dishonorable county official Dean Logan, aided by County Counsel, has been nothing short of an assault on democracy itself. 

Each night and earlier today we have been deliberating legal options with election attorneys.  We are also supported by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Election Integrity Project CA, which are helping us to determine the best course.

We will keep considering our options over the weekend before announcing next steps on Monday.
Some images from the first two days of the recount:
The LA Daily News Editorial:
Unlike Dorothy, and despite the fact that we were working in a conference room just feet from his office, The Great And Powerful Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan refused to grant us an audience.  He quite literally would not even grant our request to speak to him in person for just a few minutes.  May he soon be fired by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for being an elections officer beneath contempt in his astonishing arrogance and incompetence.
UPDATE 4/9/20 (AM):

Just a quick update as the pace accelerates in our now-dual track fight against abusive conduct both by our City (Measure A) and now our County (extreme bureaucratic incompetence and denial of electoral rights).

Yesterday we legally initiated the recount process with payment of our first daily deposit.  We did so under formal protest and submitted the following letter of protest with that payment.  The County was unable to recount a single vote yesterday and only engaged in preliminary activities.

Following the day at the County Clerk's office, our LRBC board spent yesterday evening until late at night in consultation with attorneys about potential legal action on both the state and federal levels.  

Today is Day 2 of the County's recount process and, rather than accommodate our request for ten recounts tables (up to 75 tables may be requested according to their own published rules), they are providing just one.  Nonetheless, they still see fit to charge us an inflated, exorbitant daily deposit fee.

Clearly, the County is utterly unable to meet its obligations under the state Election Code to properly carry out this recount.

Stay tuned tonight for an update on the legal remedies, as well as how progress went today with the first ballots being recounted, albeit under a potentially flawed scanned ballot image display process, which we have not agreed to and find objectionable.  

The County still will not be able to count a single physical, tangible ballot today, and confirmed that, were we to agree to the process and costs, it would charge us over $187,000 just to retrieve those physical ballots (before additional charges for the actual counting), due to its disastrous new voting system and in complete conflict with its own recently published recount cost estimates (changed less than 24 hours before the recount began yesterday). 

We have made it clear we would never agree to or validate such a recount cost figure, that it would set a precedent that the public is responsible for the County's cataclysmic incompetence (effectively denying it the right of the recount), and will fight this with every means available to us.

Please continue to forward our fundraising drive request, as court costs are potentially a major factor now.  As always, thank you for your continued vigilance and support for honesty and competence under a local representative democratic republic!
UPDATE 4/3/20:

A Tale of Two Cities...

Long Beach:

Here in our fair city, the response to our emergency call for support continues to truly impress and inspire us!  We are so gratified that so many of our fellow residents believe passionately enough in this cause to support it financially, even in these strange, uncertain times.  A huge part of that support was a matching grant of up to $10,000 (factored into the figures provided in last Wednesday's email update), from Citizens About Responsible Planning (CARP).  CARP is an LBRC affiliate, a wonderful organization you may have heard about (for example, here or here), and made up of a group of some of the most truly dedicated advocate-activists in Long Beach.  And more donations for the recount continue to come in every day, and every day we get more confident that we will meet the still undetermined figure the County of Los Angeles will demand of us.  Which brings us to the topic of another set of folks in another city...

Norwalk:


While we (that is, all of you) here in Long Beach have pulled off a small miracle (given that we just had a handful of days) to make this happen, the hulking bureaucracy of our county's chief election officer, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, at 12400 Imperial Hwy., Norwalk, has yet to give us any useful information whatsoever. 

They still don't know:
  • WHEN the recount will happen, the statutory date being Wed. of next week.  They are seeking an extension from another massive bureaucracy, the office of Cal. Secretary of State Alex Padilla and have not yet been told when or if it will be granted.
  • HOW the recount will occur, including what measures will be taken to space out and protect both county workers and members of the public who have the right to attend, scrutinize, and participate in the recount process, while ensuring that the recount is still carried out efficiently and accurately.
  • HOW MUCH the recount will cost, including adjustments to the complicated method for calculating the standard deposit fee schedule for the recount requestor (us) per the above unresolved logistical changes.
Given these uncertainties, and the possible need to have an election attorney present for at least part or all of this process, we ask that you continue to put the word out for our fundraising drive.  All donations not used for the recount will be refunded proportionally, or in whole if we win and receive a full refund of our deposit.

And please do let us know if you, or anyone you know, might be available to volunteer as a recount observer.  This is not a passive role.  Observers are crucial to making sure all ballots are counted accurately, especially with the County Clerk's office potentially limiting the number of workers present (usually there would be two workers marking down as another worker calls out votes at each table, but now there will likely just be one marking down per table).  Volunteers will receive training.  Even with the County Clerk's office taking precautions, no one uncomfortable venturing out right now should volunteer (perhaps a family member in a lower risk category and willing to take sensible measures would be appropriate).

Thank you for your continued support and dedication!!  Stay tuned for our next update Monday evening.
UPDATE 4/1/20:

Thank you for the overwhelming response to our No on Measure A Emergency Recount Fundraising Drive!  Everyone has been coming through in a truly amazing way!  We have never seen this many donations come in this quickly—clearly a lot of people want to make this recount happen, and together we are almost there!

In less than 48 hours we now have donations and pledges totaling over $26,000, and over $13,000 of that is cash in hand from over 135 donors, each giving anything from a few dollars to a couple hundred or even some donations of $1,000!  Everything counts, and everything goes to ensuring we put the Measure A vote total—a margin of just 16 votes out of 99,336—to the test of a full hand recount.  We've been especially gratified by the number of new donors who are connecting to our organization for the first time through this drive!

And it's not just new donors who have been connecting with us.  We have also received attention from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association and other groups looking to partner with us to ensure the integrity of this recount process.  We couldn't be more excited by the connections this effort is creating, which will serve us well as we continue to hold Long Beach City Hall accountable after this recount is over.

Our Recount Request was officially filed today with the LA County Clerk's office.  The one missing piece of the puzzle is a precise estimate of the cost involved.  While we have very generally estimated that, under normal conditions, the cost could be perhaps as high as $25,000 (based on the County's "How to Request a Recount" handbook and verbal discussions with their office), it's difficult to know for sure right now.  The County Clerk's office will have to handle three simultaneous recounts, including ours, and also deal with very challenging logistical reconfigurations due to COVID-19 social distance spacing.

For example, normally a single "recount board", of which there may be several working at once, would be four workers counting ballots at a single table.  Due to spacing requirements, there are now likely to be only three workers per table.  This means more boards (or tables) may be required than in the past, and those must also be spaced out.  Furthermore, the observing public must also be spaced properly and there will be cameras trained on the tables so that the public can watch on monitors.  Another factor is that the ballot is of a new design.  All this has complicated and delayed the County Clerk office’s calculation of final costs involved.

As a result, and in order to have a safe buffer to ensure that we can complete the recount all the way through (which is required to overturn the results), we continue to fundraise.  Please keep passing the word along, and please begin to consider if you or any brave souls you know might be able to serve as volunteers during the process.  We'll need as many eyes on these ballots as we can get.

We have been told that the recount would ordinarily begin in seven days.  However, if the County Clerk has insufficient facilities, the start date may be delayed.  We will keep you up-to-date on all developments.

And thank you again to our amazing community of Long Beach activists!  You have already sent a message to City Hall that you are here, you are serious about accountability, and you will not be ignored.  You are truly what will save this city!

The Final Count from the LA County Clerk's Office Shows Measure A Suddenly Passing by Just 16 Votes Out of Nearly 100,000:
Will You Join Us in Funding a Hand Recount?

DONATE TO RECOUNT
Last Friday we learned that Measure A, also known as The Infinity Tax (∞), passed by just 16 votes out of 99,336 cast, or 50.01% to 49.99%.

Measure A is an attempt to make permanent an onerous sales tax, hitting low income residents hardest, deceptively sold for important civic needs, yet fed directly into the City's General Fund maw.  The tax was original passed with a promise that it would sunset and go away completely after ten years. 

Now, after misappropriating the money to pay back special interests (like certain bargaining units, developers, city contractors, and port and energy interests, all of which make big money off city hall), they want much more.  Forever.

The mayor spent four years using taxpayer dollars to promote Measure A with signage around the city and other promotional efforts.  Then he spent another $100,000 taxpayer dollars to send out city seal-emblazoned mailers promoting Measure A just before the vote.  He coaxed all elected officials in the city into endorsing Measure A.  And to top it off, he raised $700,000 for his Vote Yes on Measure A & B campaign committee for more glossy mailers.

But the people, we believe, weren't fooled this time.  We believe that they have rejected Measure A, and we are demanding a recount to prove it.  Under the state election code, we have a right to this recount if we can put down a deposit of approximately $20,000.  Erroneous information has been circulated in the local press as to the cost of a recount (that it would be higher), which would be conducted by the office of the LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk in Norwalk.  The County Clerk's office is currently working to get us a more specific figure and has confirmed our general estimate, based on their own 'Recount Handbook'.

If the recount is successful in overturning the outcome of Measure A, all funds to the County will be refunded, and we in turn will refund our donors for this effort.  So please donate today, and help us reach the total we need.  We have until April 7th to raise the necessary funds.

We will keep you updated on our progress on a daily or every-other-day basis as we have more news/information to report.

Thank you for your dedication to defeating the dishonest Measure A!
Please send checks to:

Long Beach Reform Coalition PAC
407 E. 3rd Street
Long Beach, CA 90802

or donate online at:
LBReformCoalition.org/donate
LBReformCoaliton.org
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