Will there be litigation over issues with SLO County’s ballot recount?

December 21, 2022


The Paso Robles woman who requested a recount and inspection of ballots received in the District 2 San Luis Obispo County supervisorial race is considering litigation because of possible overcharging and alleged obstructive steps Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano has taken, Darcia Stebbens said.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson defeated challenger Dr. Bruce Jones by just 13 votes in the November election, prompting Stebbens to request the recount. Since the clerk’s staff began examining ballots on Monday, Stebbens has asked staff to tally two previously uncounted ballots.

During the recount process, observer Richard Patton discovered a ballot that had been mailed in time but rejected by county staff. In ordered to be counted, ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 8, election day.

However, county staff rejected the ballot with a Nov. 8 postmark because it also had a Nov. 9 postmark. The ballot had taken the typical route for SLO County mail. It was dropped in a box in Paso Robles on Nov. 8, sent to a post office in Santa Barbara County where it received a second stamp, and then delivered to the county building in SLO.

SLO County Clerk Recorder Elaina Cano

Cano’s office agreed to count that ballot while refusing to approve another uncounted ballot.

The second contested ballot was sent from a voter who could not sign her name as she had in the past, because she could no longer hold a pen correctly, Stebbens said. The woman had a witness confirm her signature. However, election staff rejected the ballot because the woman’s signature did not match the one on file at the county.

In addition to issues with ballots, Stebbens believes Cano is “slow rolling” her records requests and harming her ability to obtain public information about the initial count.

Stebbens is also concerned that Cano is overcharging her. Cano is requiring Stebbens to pay $1,009 a day for her salary and benefits, based on Cano spending eight hours daily working on the recount. However, Stebbens says she can provide examples, including during the primary, of Cano attending to other duties while also charging Stebbens.

During the primary, Cano charged Stebbens approximately $56,000 for the recount of District 4, with 20,899 ballots, at a cost of $2.68 a ballot.

For the current District 2 recount, Cano has bumped the estimated cost of counting 23,431 ballots to $80,262, at a cost of $3.43 a ballot, or 27% more than four months earlier.

In Kings County, elections staff is currently conducting a recount of the 27,125 ballots cast in the District 16 California Senate race, at an estimated cost of $62,743, according to Kings County election staff. At a cost of $2.31 a ballot, Kings County is charging 48% less per ballot than SLO County to perform a recount.

Stebbens is discussing how to move forward with a Sacramento-based attorney.

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I was just at the beach today with my dogs. Absolutely gorgeous. A couple of otters frolicked in the surf. So, I get it, there has to be something to argue about in paradise.

More sour grapes in SLO County. Maybe it costs more because there are more ballots to count and they moved to a larger facility to process the ballots – extra space costs extra money. Everything has a perfectly good explanation, it just takes longer to listen than it does to scream and shout fraud and corruption. No conspiracy here.

I think if people understood how unreliable the current system is there would be a great deal more support for in person voting…that’s just from the novice side of signature inspection. Add into that the potential for unaccountable bias and we get what we have, no faith in the electoral system.

Is the difference in recount cost per ballot, 2022 primary, $2.68 a ballot … versus … 2022 general $3.43 a ballot … due to a hand recount versus machine recount? Or is it due to overtime pay?

And yes, this is going to the courts. There are 93 ballots with signature rejections. How do you judge if signatures don’t match? On what basis? It will be very interesting.

What if Staff wants a certain candidate to win, is it possible for a close election to be tipped to Staff’s favorite choice? I hope not but if there is any evidence of malice in the election process, someone must be charged, delivered to the mercy of the court and unemployed. The public must have faith in our election process as well as respectful to the outcome.

Those mystery ballots found weeks after the election, in a box under a table or whatever, if they can not produce a verified chain of custody, should be disqualified?

There are no mystery ballots, just an error in a Excel cell that totalled the number of provisional ballots. When the cell was corrected the total changed.

So for just this election SLO County Clerk Recorder Elaina Cano and her staff has been unable to proof read the voter guide, can not properly train election workers, and now can not properly use a well known computer program? Not a good start.

Maybe Elaine Cano needs to be recalled. I think there was a big mistake voting her in.

This does not sound good. Initially, I reject the idea that the Clerk’s salary should be charged for time spent on the recount. The Clerk’s salary is a fixed cost paid whenever and wherever the Clerk is: if she stays home her salary goes on so why does a citizen conducting county business need to pay her salary? I had a lot of faith in Ms, Cano, that faith is rapidly eroding.

Not only that but she is paid each day nearly $400 for BENEFITS!

How many times can you be paid benefits? Big scam. Fresno is not charging for their Clerk Recorder’s time. Fresno did not charge for pre-prep time either.

We are the people that pay her salary we should not be double dipped.

“The second contested ballot was sent from a voter who could not sign her name as she had in the past, because she could no longer hold a pen correctly. The woman had a witness confirm her signature. However, election staff rejected the ballot because the woman’s signature did not match the one on file at the county.” Hmm, generally the Elections office tries to contact the voter and “cure” the ballot. I wonder if there is more going on here that is not being reported.

That particular instance sounds like a straightforward case of voter disenfranchisement. It is a legally cast ballot, cure it and count it.