A typically left-leaning federal appeals court based in San Francisco ruled last week that a group advocating election reforms has legal standing to sue over California’s election laws.
The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals clears the way for Election Integrity Project California, along with recent and future congressional candidates in the state, to challenge the constitutionality of California’s election laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.
The plaintiffs in a lawsuit allege that those government measures have weakened or removed integrity from the election process. They also suggest that the concerns raised extend beyond a single state.
The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles soon will schedule a conference about when to proceed with discovery in the case, said Mariah Gondeiro, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. Gondeiro, who works for the nonprofit law firm Advocates for Faith and Freedom, said the plaintiffs are in the process of amending their complaint.
“A few of the key issues we are focusing on are vote-by-mail, the no uniform rules on signature verification, and poor maintenance of voter rolls,” Gondeiro told The Daily Signal. “California has expanded vote-by-mail and reduced signature verification, which makes no sense.”
Election Integrity Project California, or EIPCa, based in Santa Clarita, says that it uses education, research, and advocacy to defend the civil rights of citizens to participate fully in the election process under federal and state law.
EIPCa and its co-plaintiffs filed the litigation against California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Attorney General’s Office, the California Secretary of State’s Office, and 13 county election registrars in the state.
The counties named in the complaint are Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino, Monterey, Sacramento, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clarita, Santa Benito, Santa Cruz, Fresno, and Orange.
Neither Newsom’s office nor the offices of Attorney General Rob Bonta or Secretary of State Shirley Weber responded to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment for this report.
The plaintiffs assert in the lawsuit that states control elections, but that state legislatures don’t have “carte blanche authority” to enact laws that diminish the value of lawfully cast ballots.
In a written statement, EIPCa President Linda Paine said:
For over a decade, Election Integrity Project California has researched and documented every aspect of California’s election process and identified how these laws transformed an Election Day into a 60-day election season fraught with easy to manipulate procedures. We are now seeing California-style laws in states across the country creating the same problems that have been witnessed and documented by EIPCa-trained observers in California for years.
The 9th Circuit’s decision Nov. 21 remanded the lawsuit back to the district court in Los Angeles for discovery, the next phase of the litigation.
The suit challenges the legality of Newsom’s decision in 2020 to mail a ballot to all “active” registrants on the state’s voter rolls. That same year, then-Secretary of State Alex Padilla “gutted” signature verification requirements for mail-in ballots, the plaintiffs contend.
Election Integrity Project California says in a press release that it has 700 affidavits signed under penalty of perjury from the group’s trained election observers, who reported that election workers weren’t verifying signatures and, in some cases, were counting ballots without signatures.
This, the plaintiffs contend, is because neither the California Secretary of State’s Office nor the state Legislature required uniform and secure procedures for casting and counting ballots. They also claim uneven procedures were applied across different counties.
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