Secretary of State Kevin Shelley says he’s not Katherine Harris in pants. Calling your blogger to explain his position on the verification of recall signatures, Shelley said he’s relying for advice on a bipartisan group of lawyers in his office (including one whose name is Riddle).
“My responsibility is to run a fair and impartial election system,” Shelley told me. “Sometimes I’m going to make a ruling or provide advice that’s going to make the proponents happy or mad, and the same thing for the opponents. I can assure you, they’ll have equal-opportunity to be ticked off. My absolute bottom line here is to make sure this is an accurate process. However that ends up. My concern is to make sure it’s overseen properly and done fairly.”
Shelley also took pains to point out that he's not telling the counties that they must pause their verification process for a month. Only that they may pause if they want to. "They have the option," he said.
Well, whether Shelley is trying to be fair or not, I still think he and his lawyers are wrong. The law says the registrars must report every 30 days the total of “all valid signatures received since the time the recall was initiated.” That seems pretty clear to me. They can’t report the number of valid signatures unless they are checking to see if they are valid. Can they?
Posted by dweintraub at 6:10 PM
Aside from the dueling interpretations of the law, county registrars are telling me that they are facing at least one technical obstacle to verifying the recall petitions. Normally with ballot measures, they check the signatures on petitions all at once, and their computers tell them when duplicates show up. That is, if a voter has signed more than one petition. But with the recall, they are getting signatures in batches. If they verify one batch, and then another, and another, the same person might have signed petitions in each batch and their computers would never catch it. Several counties are trying to get a quick software patch to fix that glitch.
In the meantime, the state association of county clerks and elections officers has gathered up a list of questions about the process and will be forwarding it to the Secretary of State’s office next week. They want all the counties to be on the same page before they move forward. Among the queries: can they do a random sample or must they verify every signature? I thought it was long-since settled that they could do a sample. Apparently not.
Bottom line: we’re not going to be getting any updates on signature verification for a while.
P.S. A friendly reader suggests that as I start portraying Kevin Shelley as a partisan Democratic operator, I should also note that Shelley recently went out on the limb trying to ensure that President Bush would be listed on the 2004 ballot in California even though Bush won't be re-nominated until after the ballot deadline here. Suggestion taken.
Posted by dweintraub at 4:10 PM
"You haven't seen special effects like this since the California state budget."--Schwarzenegger, on the Tonight Show. Leno introduces him as the "next governor of California." From the Washington Post. Thanks to prestopundit.
Posted by dweintraub at 11:51 AM