I do not accept your arbitrary removal of me from the EOP. Nor do I suspect does the Riverside County Chapter of Californians for Disability Rights. Art Cassel and I spent an hour and a half today requesting permission to view the processing of ballots in the “back room” behind the room you are calling the “secure ballot storage” room. Brian Foss never secured that permission as you would not make yourself available to respond.
It is the right BY LAW of observers to view each and every aspect of the electoral process, including observing the secure storage of ballots. Ms. Dunmore, you were on premises the entire time we were there and refused to respond to the numerous requests of Mr. Cassel and me. And since you will not delegate decision making authority to any of your staff, even at the highest levels, your making yourself unavailable to respond to a lawful request to observe the processing of ballots in the “back room” amounted to an unlawful denial of the right of the observers.
The code is VERY clear. We (citizens’ organizations, including the EOP members) have the right to have “representatives in attendance at any and ALL phases of the election”. – Section 15004(b). The processing of the ballots or envelopes or whatever was being processed in the “back room” must meet the sunshine “light of day” and “right to observe” law. You may not unreasonably withhold such observation and that is exactly what you did by making certain you would not respond to repeated (at least 4) requests.
Yet, within an hour of my departure, you made all the time available you wanted to to write an email to the EOP banishing me from the EOP. And if you look at the photo you sent, you will see that I was only ducking my head into the room to ask the staff person a question. I was not “in the room” nor was I creating any kind of impediment to the efficient operations of the election process.
You also violated Election Code Section 15104 (d) which states, in part, “Absentee voter observers shall be allowed sufficiently close access to enable them to observe and challenge whether thoseindividuals handling absentee ballots are following established procedures…”. If I am unlawfully and unreasonably refused “sufficiently close access to observe …whether …individuals…are following established procedures” (in a back room), then your refusal to allow my observation is a direct violation of election law. You could have allowed Mr. Foss to accompany Mr. Cassel and me into the back room to observe, but you did not. You have also violated Election Code section 15104(d)(3) which specifies “…Observers…shall be allowed…to observe…[the]Securing [of] absentee ballots to prevent any tampering with them before they are counted on election day.” In all the years we have been observing, you have NEVER allowed us to see that the ballots are securely stored. You also violated Elections Code section 15104(a) which specifies “the processing of absentee ballot return envelopes, and the processing and counting of absentee ballots shall be open to the public, both prior to and after the election.” You played this same game of “hide and seek” yesterday with Mr. Cassel when he repeatedly asked for permission from Wayne Beckham, who had to “ask Barbara”, but conveniently you just weren’t available. That’s two days in a row you obstructed meaningful observation as mandated by the Election Code. I appeared today as a member of the media, from the Murrieta Bugle and signed in that way, and displayed my badge. So your action was also a denial of the rights of the media to observe all public processes. Therefore, I reject your removal action from the EOP as prejudicial, arbitrary, capricious and retaliatory and I will remain a member in good standing. You are violating numerous laws and I demand you follow both the spirit and the intent of these sunshine laws. This is not YOUR Election, it is the People’s election. We (the People) have the right to observe in a meaningful fashion, and you cannot perform activities in back rooms and refuse to allow observers. It is simply against the laws.
1. Election Code Section 15004
(b) Any bona fide association of citizens or a media organization may
employ, and may have present at the central counting place or places, not
more than two representatives to check and review the preparation and
operation of the tabulating devices, their programming and testing, and
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