Bauman’s Mouthpiece Maviglio Visits VOC to Refute Joel Block; Let’s Take His Claims Apart!

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Maviglio’s text and this pretty credit box taken from the esteemed Voice of OC.

[Author’s Note: I often note in my posts that I do not speak for one or another campaign.  Here I want to do something a little different: I want to note that I DO NOT — DOOOOO NAWWWWT — SPEAK HERE FOR THE KIMBERLY ELLIS CAMPAIGN!  AT ALL.  JUST FOR MYSELF.  Thanks for reading!]

On the day that Eric Bauman was deemed to be the new California Democratic Party Chair despite an contest of his election, he unilaterally hired his longtime associate Steven Maviglio to represent his (personally and therefore, in his apparent view, the party’s) position on Kimberly Ellis’s challenge to the results.  Maviglio — who was representing AT&T in its conflict with unionized Communications Workers of America members who were rallying at the convention — lasted in his position for about as long as it is safe to eat an egg-and-tuna salad sandwich at an August picnic (give or take a day) before being summarily dispatched.  But he’s back, giving his own (i.e., Bauman’s) view on the controversial contested race.

Welcome to OJ Blog, where we sometimes take things apart paragraph by paragraph within the Fair Use safe harbor for criticism!  (It’s called “Fisking.”)  Maviglio’s text, taken from a response to the Joel Block piece to which I also responded earlier today, is indented and italicized; mine is not.

Nobody likes losing. Particularly close races. And I don’t blame some the backers of some of the losing candidates for executive positions in the recent California Democratic Party officer elections for being disappointed by the results.

I invite anyone who knows him to just imagine what Eric Bauman would be doing if he were behind by 62 votes in an election where his opponent stood accused of possible election improprieties yet had muscled her way into office.  It would probably rip a hole in the space-time continuum.  So, don’t patronize us.

But sadly, these losses are being chalked up to Black Helicopter-like conspiracies, suggesting the party is operating without transparency and perhaps outside of the law.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here’s the process that prevented that from happening. This gets a little geeky, so stay with me.

Challenge accepted, Pharm Boy!

First, to cast a ballot, delegates were required to sign their name on at least three records, all of which are maintained by the CDP at the end of the process.

First they had to sign the registration form when picking up their credential. Second they had to sign a second form when they pick up their ballot. Third they had to sign the ballot itself.  In addition the voters had to sign their credential, though this record is kept by the voter and would not be part of the current review

Well, no.  Someone purporting to be a delegate was required to sign their name these three (of four) times.  We can safely presume that most of the time the person purporting to be a given delegate was that delegate.  But generally, no attempt was made to determine that that was the actual delegate or a bona fide proxy.  No ID was required and the signatures were only (supposedly) required to match each other, not to match some pre-existing record of a valid signature (as would be the case in a polling place.)  And, of course, this rule would only be as good as its enforcement.  If there’s no external signature match, then there would be no enforcement.

Imagine a situation where someone could tip you off that someone on a Will Call list would not be attending an event.  Free ticket for you!  Except that with this ticket, as long as you can sign the person’s name, you can vote.  (Of course, this becomes even worse if there is collusion from someone within the ticket booth.)  Luckily, most of this would leave tracks — if one checks for them.  So, in a tight race, should we?

Further, any voter not present themselves, wishing to have their vote cast by a proxy, had to go through an additional process. They had to submit a written proxy form, which has to be reviewed and approved by a member of the CDP Credentials Committee.

No, they were supposed to submit a written proxy form.  Some people have reported on Facebook that they didn’t have one and were processed anyway.  It may be that members of the Credentials Committee used different standards — or it could be that different putative proxies were treated differently.  And anyone who has studied election fraud knows that if there’s one person among a panel who is in on a scam, people can be directed to that person for “considerate treatment” if the system allows such self-assignment.

Maviglio also omits a couple of interesting aspects of the proxy system.  First, a County Party officer could be empowered to pick a proxy for a delegate in their stead, if they received an email from the delegate so empowering them.  Of course, one could send an email falsely purporting to be from a delegate and gain permission that way, like one cop going behind a house and shouting assent for his or her partner to enter the house via the front door for an illegal search or seizure.  The only way that you know what happened is to ask the delegate whether they did in fact provide a proxy.

Beyond this, a proxy must be eligible to serve, which may or may not be readily perceived from the proxy form, may or may not have been properly vetted by the people providing the proxy, and may or not have been missed (intentionally excused or negligently allowed to pass) by the person checking the credential.  As I used to tell my Intro to American Government class, “Laws are only as good as their enforcement.”  Getting a proxy can be more difficult than you might imagine!  An Assembly District proxy must be given to someone within the same Assembly district and (I’m told) of the same gender as the person giving it.  A Central Committee Member, at least in Orange County, must go to a member (including an alternate) of the Central Committee.

Also: a delegate could provide a proxy with what are supposed to be binding instructions to vote a certain way in one or several races.  You can only find out what those instructions were by talking to the delegate providing the proxy.  And you can only find out whether that order was carried out by then checking the signed vote for that proxy, because some bound proxies have reported being lobbied — some under substantial duress — by one or more campaigns to cast their vote against their instructions.  The person providing the proxy would never find out about the betrayal — unless someone asked about it

In fact, Regional Directors told some people who wanted proxies that they could only provide proxies to persons who agreed to vote for certain candidates — rejecting those who would not commit — but we have no way of knowing whether it was the delegate giving the proxy who set those conditions or the Regional Director imposing those conditions.  Only slightly less problematic, where delegates themselves did offer bound proxies we don’t know if the Regional Director accepted those instructions passively from delegates giving proxies or browbeat them into agreeing that they would set such conditions.  This is especially problematic where the Regional Director had a conflict of interest, such as in Region 17 where Florice Hoffman told at least three people that I know of — Joel Block being one — that they could only receive one of the proxies she had to give out if they would agree to vote not only for Bauman for Chair, but for Hoffman herself in the Regional Directors race!

Maviglio disposed of the whole “proxy” issue placidly in just 45 words.  Yet this is one of the main areas where improprieties have been reported.  So, how confident do you think you can feel in his assurances that everything is all right?  (And I will consent to being called a “Black Helicopter theorist” for raising these possibilities if none of them are found by audit to have happened if Maviglio agrees to get the hell out of Democratic politics for the next four years if it turns out that any of these “conspiracy theory” acts did in fact happen this year.)

Second, once a voter has gone through all these steps, and actually marked their ballot, they are required to insert their ballot into a sealed ballot box that is in public view in the voting room. These ballot boxes are constantly monitored by either CDP staff or a member of the Credentials Committee. Furthermore observers of the various campaigns are offered the opportunity to monitor the entire process – and they did. Observers of nearly every campaign were in the room.

I haven’t heard of reports of suspicions about this part of the process.

Third, if any individual does not appear on the official list and otherwise believes they should be eligible to vote, they are automatically issued a provisional ballot.

That may be the plan, but various voters in Regions 17 and 18 have attested that it in those races it was not necessarily part of the practice. These were regions where the reported voting periods closed 45 minutes earlier than indicated by the schedule.  This is not as much of a problem if all voters knew to honor the earlier deadline — but if those for one side or the other knew that they had better show up earlier and the other didn’t then it does create biases.

Fourth, the sealed ballot boxes were only opened in view of election observers, who were then present during the entire counting process, with no ballot ever leaving the counting room, providing no opportunity for so-called “ballot stuffing”

I believe that I’m the person who introduced the term “ballot stuffing” into this discourse, so let me explain for Maviglio what I mean.  “Ballot stuffing” means “getting improper ballots into the ballot box.”  The crudest and most venerated way of doing this is to physically make up a bunch of ballots and stuff them into the box.  That’s difficult in a private election like this one where the ballots are signed.  But there are other ways of “getting improper ballots into the ballot box” — such as by sending voters that one knows to be ineligible to cast such ballots!  Again, this is easiest to do when dealing with proxies, although actual delegates themselves can also be impersonated.  I call that ballot stuffing; Maviglio may wish to call it something else.

Fifth, no ballots are “destroyed.”  In a handful of cases, ballots do have to be voided (not destroyed). For example, a voter may spoil their ballot and request a replacement. In this case, a new ballot is created in public view (with an announcement made to any election observers present) and the voided ballot is retained in case it is needed for any subsequent review or ballot reconciliation.

I don’t think that the Ellis campaign itself has made such charges — several of us heard about this on Election Evening, but I don’t recall any instance being verified — but I have a separate point to make here: how is Maviglio positioned to assure you solemnly that no ballots were destroyed?  He may be able to say that they are not routinely destroyed as a matter of policy, but that doesn’t rule out that some displeasing ballots could have been “lost” during the count.  Usually, you would check this by having candidate representatives watching like hawks at every table — but I’m told that there were far more counting tables than the number of reps allotted to each campaign could muster.

Furthermore, another form of fraud can occur when a ballot does not have votes in all races and a mark can be added during the tabulation process.  This can be prevented by allowing people a “NOT VOTING” option to mark in each race — which did not happen.

The only way to confirm that delegates had all and only the votes intended to be cast actually tabulated in the election is to let every delegate look at the signed ballot that was turned in and let them confirm that the tabulated vote was the same as the cast vote.  In the case of proxies, both the proxy and the delegate can be asked to confirm the votes to prevent marks in certain races from being added.

Sixth, no part of the counting process relies on so called electronic voting systems (closed or open source). The entire process is conducted manually using paper ballots. There is no way to “hack the vote.”

No one has, to my knowledge, suggested that electronic voting systems were used.  But there certainly is a way to “hack the vote” with paper ballots — and it has a long and storied history in Democratic and non-Democratic Party politics.  Again, one can add a vote where a race is left blank or scribble out a vote and add a different one where the unappealing vote was cast.  That is hacking a vote; cheating in elections predated computers.  My point here is not to assert that anything of that sort happened in this election, but merely to point out that someone who says that you can’t hack a paper ballot doesn’t know enough about election fraud to generate a respectable opinion.

Seventh, this manual counting process is built around a system of redundancy. Every single ballot is counted and then recounted by a second individual.  If the counts do not match, the ballots are counted again until the vote is reconciled.  Where questions of voter intent arise, preliminary determinations are made by members of the Credentials Committee.  Observers from the campaigns are allowed to be present during this entire process.

That’s good!  But, alas, it doesn’t solve the problem of cases where a vote may be improperly added or altered before the first person counts the ballot (or by that person.)  This is, of course, a bigger problem for the person who is the outsider candidate in an election.  Redundant systems can be designed that can prevent such chicanery — such as taking a photo of each ballot before it is deposited into the ballot box, with those photos stored away until and unless needed.

Eighth, all these records are maintain and available for review. Original appointment forms.  County committee rosters.  Sign in sheets. Proxy forms.  The ballots themselves.

Good.  That will facilitate any independent external audit.

Ninth, the CDP does not have secret ballots. While not the reason for the rule, it provides an incredible disincentive to try to cheat the system. Any suspected problem ballot can be individually identified, tracked, and segregated from the rest of the vote. For this reason, the proverbial bad apple cannot spoil the bunch.

That disincentive is in theory a real deterrent to cheating — but if such a check doesn’t occur even in a close race like this, then it really doesn’t turn out to be much of a disincentive.  All the more reason why, when concern about the integrity of the system is at an absolute high and loss of respect for the party a huge problem for Democrats (who typically rely on high turnout) abounds across the nation, an external forensic audit should take place.

Kimberly Ellis lost the election for chair. Her observers were in the room, carefully monitoring every vote counted.  Her team now is reviewing the ballots – as are candidates for other offices. This is a long-standing tradition. (In fact, candidates in the past reviewed the ballots, oftentimes so they could send thank you notes to their supporters.)

I would like to know how many “observers” Maviglio believes that the Ellis campaign was allowed to have “in the room, carefully monitoring every vote counted.”  Could someone ask him that?  Because this simply does not match my understand of how woefully low was the number of campaign representatives allowed to “carefully monitor” each ballot in the race.  Let’s find out what he meant by that second sentence in the above paragraph, and then we can compare that to the rules as actually applied, so that we can judge whether Maviglio is simply trying to bamboozle the reader here.

That is her right. No one is opposing it.

And it’s Eric Bauman’s right to move forward in his role of chair of the Party. He believes, rightly so, that we have no time to waste to win back Congress and keep the governorship, every single constitutional office in the state, and our supermajority in the Legislature.

Can we agree that it is only Bauman’s “right to move forward in his role of chair of the Party” if he actually received the most legitimate votes?  If not, then, as we used to say in Huntington Beach: woah!  But IF SO, then we should agree to an independent external audit, because the confidence that that would inspire would make Bauman’s (or Ellis’s) job that much easier.

Republicans are making hay of the organized chaos at the convention. It’s time to move on — for our party’s sake.

Sigh.  Let me answer that “It’s time to move on” — which we’ve heard how many times from Republicans over the years, including the the 2000 recount and just last month with respect to Trump Administration scandals — by quoting something pertinent:

“Can we agree that it is only Bauman’s “right to move forward in his role of chair of the Party” if he actually received the most legitimate votes?  If not, then, as we used to say in Huntington Beach: woah!  But IF SO, then we should agree to an independent external audit, because the confidence that that would inspire would make Bauman’s (or Ellis’s) job that much easier.”

(It’s like this PR genius really doesn’t know how low trust in institutional party bureaucracy has fallen.  It’s like he doesn’t know how much further it can fall!)

It’s time for the party to heal, not for litmus tests and accusations based on ignorance and paranoia. California Democrats cannot afford to be a circular firing squad.

“Litmus tests”?  “Ignorance” and “paranoia”?  “Circular firing squad”?  Let me address this directly to its target:

The only “litmus test” applied here, Mr. Maviglio, is intolerance of corruption — and it’s a really good one.  The only “ignorance,” speaking as someone who as an academic did study and teach about historical means and motives of fraud in elections, is evinced by your seemingly willful areas of blindness in your own column.  The only “paranoia” is well-earned by those of us familiar with Eric Bauman’s ham-fisted, strong-armed, win-at-all-costs tactics against his political opponents.

As for calling those people who want to strengthen the party by allowing both members and nonmembers to have greater confidence in its ethos and in its tolerance for internal diversity of opinion and principled devotion to fair play, let me just quote former Chair John Burton to you.

Nah, it’s probably better if I don’t.  You know what epithets you’ve earned.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. 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. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)