Just a Cherry Pickin’ Minute Here! Perez Asks for a Recount — of Certain Favorable Counties

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Former Assembly Speaker has swallowed hard and taken one for the team: he’ll call for a recount of the Controller’s election for our own good.  Here’s his message:

Thank you for your continued support.

Today, I am filing a request for a recount in the Controller’s race. Never in California history has the vote difference between two candidates for statewide office been so narrow, 481 votes or 1/100th of one percent, out of more than four million ballots cast. It is therefore of the utmost importance that an additional, carefully conducted review of the ballots be undertaken to ensure that every vote is counted, as intended.

Throughout my career, I have made voter registration and the defense of voting rights a core part of my work. As the former Chair of the California Voting Modernization Board, I know first hand how difficult it is to have an error-free counting of the votes. Like all who have waited since Election Day, I seek a final determination as quickly as possible.

Whatever the outcome of this effort, I am secure in knowing California Democrats will have a great, progressive leader who will represent California proudly and effectively as Controller.

Never fear, though: he’s only asking for a recount of SOME counties.  To ensure that every vote IN THOSE COUNTIES is counted, as intended.

Wait — scratch that!  He’s only counting certain precincts in those counties — just 700 of them, for example, in Los Angeles County.  And by law, he even gets to specify the order in which they’ll be counted.  And after all this cherry picking, if he’s ahead at the end of any day, he can just stop — and leave it to Betty Yee to decide whether to continue or not.

Cherry picking

Just a cherry’pickin’ minute! Does Perez want all votes to be counted, or just ones likely favor him? (The question is rhetorical.)

The list starts with Kern, Imperial, San Bernardino, Fresno, San Mateo, and Orange.  After that, it’s Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside, Stanislaus, Tulare, Napa, Kings, Lake, and Merced.  He asks that they be counted in that order — and, again, he can stop any time, between a county or within it, shifting the burden to the underfunded Yee — likely crippling her fall campaign if he temporarily pulls ahead for even an instant and she eventually takes the lead.

She’s going to have to fundraise like hell, now, to start her own selective recount.  And the only way that Yee will possibly be able to raise enough funds is by demonizing Perez within the Asian community for his cherry-picking ways — thus leading to rancor in the Latino and gay (and probably labor) communities.

That’s great — if you’re Ashley Swearengin, the Republican in the runoff election who just became a lot more likely to prevail in November.  I don’t know why Perez calls Swearengin a “great, progressive leader,” though.

The principle of ensuring “an error-free count” is not really being honored here.  I have had no contact with the Yee campaign about this, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t file a challenge to California’s recount statute, based on the principles expressed in Bush v. Gore, in Sacramento Superior Court (and maybe even one in federal court as well, if I recall how that case went), on the grounds that it lends itself to improper cherry-picking.

A PDF of the 39-page letter to Secretary of State Debra Bowen may be found at this link.


About Greg Diamond

Prolix worker's rights and government accountability attorney. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Runs for office sometimes, so far to offer a challenge to someone nasty who would otherwise have run unopposed. Someday he might pick a fight intending to win it rather than just to dent someone. You'll know it when you see it. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. A family member works part-time as a campaign treasurer. He doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he hated. He does advise some local campaigns informally and generally without compensation. If that changes, he will declare the interest. He also runs a less frequently published blog called "The Brean," for his chosen hometown, where he is now fighting with its wealthiest and most avaricious citizen-donors. This just seems to be his way.