• Fri. Dec 2nd, 2022

Appellate court allows congressional candidates to challenge California’s election laws

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an election integrity case involving complaints from congressional candidates in 13 districts across California is eligible to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s election laws, regulations, policies and procedures in federal court.

The case has been remanded to a federal district court in Los Angeles for disclosure, advancing the litigation, the Election Integrity Project, California (EIPCa) announced Nov. 21.

EIPCa and the 13 joint plaintiffs have alleged that the state “weakened or removed the integrity of the electoral process”. The lawsuit names as defendants California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta and the electoral rolls in the 13 counties, including Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside.

Weber declined to comment on the case on November 23. “We do not offer comment on pending litigation,” spokesman Joe Kocurek said.

Alleged threat to electoral integrity

EIPCa cites California’s mail-in voting system, ballot collection, reduced voting opportunities for in-person voting and increased time for counting votes as potential threats to the integrity of the elections.

The organization claims that although the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures the authority to enact laws governing election administration and ballot processing, they do not have the authority to enact laws “that diminish the value of lawfully cast ballots “.

The lawsuit further alleges that California enacted laws, orders and regulations over the past decade that resulted in “massive irregularities” culminating in the 2020 election when Gov. Newsom stopped mailing a ballot to all “active” Registrants on voter rolls approved and former Secretary of State Alex Padilla, now US Senator, “gutted” signature verification requirements.

“EIPCa received over 700 affidavits signed under penalty of perjury from EIPCa-trained observers who repeatedly reported that poll workers did not adequately verify signatures and, in some cases, counted ballots without signatures,” EIPCa said in a press release. “Because neither the state legislature nor Alex Padilla required uniform and secure procedures for voting and counting, inconsistent procedures were used in the counties.”

“Huge step forward”

US District Court Judge Andre Birotte, Jr. previously dismissed the case with prejudice, ruling in August 2021 that neither plaintiff had standing to sue. EIPCa appealed the case to the 9th Circuit and a three-judge panel reversed the decision on November 3.

Mariah Gondeiro of Advocates for Faith & Freedom, the lead counsel for EIPCa and the joint plaintiffs, told The Epoch Times the ruling was a “major step forward.”

The investigative process will allow plaintiffs to “explore the scope of irregularities occurring as a result of California’s electoral laws and procedures … so that we can ask questions and get information and actually audit the counties and the ballots,” Gondeiro said.

“This lawsuit is monumental because it is the first to challenge the constitutionality of California’s election laws and procedures, and we are the first to stand,” Gondeiro said in a previous statement. “If we win, California must enforce safe and consistent voting and counting procedures.”

EIPCa President Linda Paine told The Epoch Times that if EIPCa wins the case and California methods are declared unconstitutional, it could set a precedent for legal challenges in other states like Arizona and Nevada that have adopted California electoral policies.

“I am confident that we will win because we have so much solid documented evidence,” she said.

California election tracking

EIPCa President Linda Paine said in a statement that the group has documented and tracked every aspect of California’s election process since its inception 12 years ago.

“We are now seeing California-style laws in states across the country causing the same problems that have been observed and documented by EIPCa-trained monitors in California for years,” Paine said.

EIPCa, a citizen watchdog group, has opposed several new bills that have changed the way California has conducted its elections. The organization, Paine said, is made up mostly of retired professionals who volunteer their time to observe elections. Over the years, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has employed 20,000 volunteers.

“We did this because we love our country and we see what happens,” she said. “Our goal has always been to provide the best documented evidence of how California’s laws, regulations, policies and procedures affect the ability to hold fair, honest and transparent elections.”

The plaintiffs consist of former and new congressional candidates, all Republicans, including James P. Bradley, Eric Early, Mike Cargile, Jeff Gorman, Buzz Patterson, Mark Reed, Aja Smith, Alison Hayden, Kevin Cookingham, Chris Bish, Ronda Kennedy, Greg Raths and Johnny Nalbandian.

Bradley, who ran for the US Senate but lost in the June 7 primary, told The Epoch Times the 9th Circuit Court ruling was “a huge win” that opens the door to the discovery process.

Changes to the voting process

The first amended complaint in the lawsuit alleges that the California election process “involved near-universal ballot-by-mail (‘VBM’) voting while eliminating chain of custody and signature verification protections and treating in-person voters differently from VBM voters, and mailing.” of ballots to a large number of ineligible voters.”

“This puts many of California’s most vulnerable populations at risk, including the young, elderly and non-citizens. It has also led to widespread irregularities in the electoral process that threaten to disenfranchise California voters,” the complaint reads.

In addition, the state, which boasts a Democratic majority, is accused of deliberately “staging an onslaught of unconstitutional laws, regulations, executive orders and electoral practices which, taken together, are intended to create an environment in which elections could be rigged and electable by voters of all political groups.” views disenfranchised.”

According to the EIPCa, the case is not a party matter, but a constitutional issue that has affected many candidates in more than one election.

Brad Jones

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Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.

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