As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Messy Aftermath in CDP Delegate Elections

This Capitol Weekly article notes some continuing controversy in the CDP delegate elections held nearly two weeks ago, particularly in AD 51, which appeared to be a backroom battle between former rivals for the Assemblyman position:

Democratic activist Tim Goodrich sent a complaint to party chairman Art Torres and secretary Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer on Sunday. It alleges six different improprieties in a delegate election held in Hawthorne on January 14. This includes charges of improper voting and unethical use of power by the presiding officer of the election. Goodrich was one of seven candidates on a "Democrats for Progress" slate; he said he lost by four votes.

"We decided to contest this election so this fraudulent activity doesn't
happen again and to send a message that the people want fair elections
within the CDP," Goodrich said.

The Democrats of Progress slate was led by Price's opponent in the primary, Steve Bradford. Bradford was nearly able to win the party endorsement in last year's state primary; Price went on the win the primary by a mere 113 votes.
Bradford was elected as a delegate. So were two other members of his slate, Alexis Beamon and Sheila Mickelson. But Price's slate swept the other nine slots, essentially ensuring he will keep the party endorsement when he runs for re-election in 2008.

Goodrich's complaint makes several allegations: that voters' eligibility was not properly verified before people cast their secret ballot, that Price led a Martin Luther King Jr. Day barbecue in a park next to the polling place and did not invite people associated with the Progress slate in order to stack the election, and that election presiding officer Pablo Catano improperly used his role in a successful effort to get elected to represent the district on the state party Election Board.

I don't know about the stacking, but I can attest that there was no verification that I saw of anyone's eligibility in the 41st AD election. The E-Board portion of the race was confusing as well, because you had to wait to see who won the delegate elections before you could vote on that, but nobody wanted to do that, so most people voted for E-Board early. It didn't matter in the 41st, but this ended up being highly confusing, and I think there could be an IRV (instant runoff voting) element added to the elections, where you rank your 12 votes on the ballot from 1-12 for E-Board, or something.

There was more.

Meanwhile, two separate complaints were filed with the CDP over the delegate election in AD 42. This district is represented by freshman Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, but the complainants said that Feuer was not present and did not appear to do anything to affect the election.

One, signed by four delegate candidates and one voter, alleged that convener Andrew Lachman illegally used the voter rolls to send out a mailer promoting executive-board candidacy. Lachman lost by 11 votes.

The other complaint was filed by voter Mona Pastor. She said when she showed up for the meeting at the Beverly Hills Public Library, a poll worker advised her to vote for Andrew.

"Thankfully it didn't affect the outcome, but the poll workers need to be taught the basic rules of running an election," Pastor said.

Lachman denied the allegations, saying he stepped aside from running the meeting, as the rules called for. As for the mailer, he said it went to only 160 people from a list he compiled himself.

"I'm active in six or seven Democratic clubs," Lachman said. "I've gotten to know a lot of people."

I know Andrew occasionally posts online, and the complainants are members of the Progressive Slate on which I also ran. I'm not going to pass judgment, as I have no idea what happened. I just thought it was interesting, and it brings up the point of having someone involved in the election also running the election and setting the rules. I don't know how this could be avoided in the future, but it should be.

There was a surge in interest in the CDP elections this year and in 2005, and the CDP tried to codify the rules somewhat. But some more needs to be done, I would say, to ensure transparency and fairness.