Lou Correa's Loss in Supervisor Race Spurs Latino Activist Chatter of Voting Rights Lawsuit

Does the gambler Lou Correa know when to walk away?
Does the gambler Lou Correa know when to walk away?
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UPDATE NO. 2, FEB. 17, 10:24 A.M.: In light of Lou Correa's loss to Andrew Do in the First District county supervisor special election, Latino rights activists are reportedly contemplating a voting rights lawsuit. KPCC reports the grounds for such an action would be that county Board of Supervisors district lines are carved in such a way to dilute the power of Latinos, who make up 34.2 percent of Orange County's population.

For instance, the largest Latino majority cities are Anaheim and Santa Ana, but those cities are split among three districts on the Board of Supervisors. Latinos "have no voice in the county government," activist Art Montez tells the radio station. "No voice in health care, they have no voice as to what public parks are going to get." Three of the five county supervisors are Asian American, while the other two are white dudes.

UPDATE NO. 1, FEB. 10, 10:28 A.M.: Lou Correa stopped the recount Monday after 6,250 ballots showed no change in the results: He was still losing the county supervisor First District race to Andrew Do. So the former state senator switched tactics and is now having the Registrar of Voters examine election envelopes, supplies and any other materials to see if anything is screwy. Hard evidence of voting irregularities could send Correa before a judge to try to overturn the results. That's because Registrar Neal Kelley already certified a 43-vote victory for Do in the Jan. 27 special election, and the former Garden Grove city councilman has already been sworn in as Orange County's newest supervisor. Correa, who spent $2,400 on Monday's recount, has to pony up another $589 to analyze the election materials, Kelley told City News Service.

ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 6, 7:33 A.M.: If Lou Correa's close loss in the Orange County First Supervisorial District race stands--he's paid $20,000 for a recount that begins Monday--he may have a state Senate bill he authored to blame.

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BradBlog.com explains it much better and thoroughly than I can in the post "Hoisted on His Own Petard?"

Basically, it comes down to Correa possibly having lost the race last year when his SB 29 was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The legislation allowed Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots to be accepted and counted even if they arrive at county election headquarters up to three days after Election Day. Some "election integrity advocates" (as Brad Blog calls them) had concerns, fearing that in close races VBM ballots might be quickly filled in and sent after Election Day to sway results in a candidate's favor.

Fast forward to the Jan. 27 special election and the nail biter as ballots were counted and the lead seesawed between Correa and former Garden Grove City Councilman Andrew Do. With nearly 50,000 ballots cast and VBM and provisional ballots yet to be counted, Do led by only two votes.

And so, as Brad Friedman reports on his site, the Do-Correa race became the first in the state to put Correa's SB 29 to the test. The Orange County Registrar of Voters confirmed 915 late ballots arrived in the race. Of those, 258 came in too late to be counted due to no postmark or a postmark after Election Day. Registrar Ned Neal Kelley told the Brad Blog, "657 were valid based on the criteria set forth in the law" by you-know-who.

Kelley last week certified Do the winner by just 43 votes, so obviously the VBM ballots made the difference. Though Do was sworn in as Orange County's newest supervisor last week, Correa released a statement Monday explaining his campaign would pay for a recount due to reports that people who did not really reside in the First Supervisorial District cast ballots.

But that was not all:

"We have also received reports regarding irregularities in the handling and processing of vote-by-mail ballots, with campaigns collecting (and even paying for) voted ballots and returning them to the Registrar's office or at the polls."

Now how did that happen?

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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