April 17, 2012 - Court says registrar must explain decision in city clerk race
Paper: Sun, The (San Bernardino, CA)
Title: Court says registrar must explain decision in city clerk race
Date: April 17, 2012
Author: Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
SAN BERNARDINO - In a court case that could change the outcome of the city clerk election, the registrar of voters will be required to explain why he didn't count votes by people whose signature didn't match records but signed affidavits swearing they had voted.
The decision by Judge Donna Gunnell Garza on Tuesday modifies her earlier decision not to allow any outside evidence.
The case was brought by 15 residents who say they voted in the Feb. 7 mail-in run-off election for city clerk but whose votes Registrar of Voters Michael J. Scarpello did not count.
Georgeann "Gigi" Hanna beat Amelia Sanchez-Lopez by six votes, according to a recount, and took office March 5.
At the time, Scarpello pointed to the state Election Code saying signatures must match.
But registered voters should have been allowed to vote or at least notified of the discrepancy so they could fix it, alleges a lawsuit brought by Los Angeles-based attorney William Trejo on their behalf.
"I'm very pleased," Trejo said of Tuesday's decision. "All we're seeking is the truth and the information that the registrar acted on."
Trejo said the law is clear that anything in a voter's file - including an affidavit - could be used to determine a signature's validity.
Lawyers representing Hanna and Scarpello said they would continue under objection.
"We do not believe (Election) Code allows that," said attorney Stuart Leviton, who represents Hanna.
He said they suffered a setback on this procedural question, but he was still confident the election results would be upheld.
"Our position is that the registrar acted properly," Leviton said.
The next hearing in the case will be May 2.
Caption: Photo: Gigi Hanna is a candidate for San Bernardino city clerk. Photo: (09-19-11)---METRO---SANBERNARDINO---
Amelia Sanchez-Lopez is a candidate for San Bernardino city clerk.
Rick Sforza/Staff Photographer
Record Number: 20415696
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