Superior Court Judge rules in favor of county; against Election Integrity Project in lawsuit claiming “lack of transparency”

By Michael Hernandez 

VENTURA—Superior Court Judge Henry J. Walsh (Courtroom 42) ruled against a lawsuit prepared by Election Integrity Project (EIP-Ca) against Mark Lunn—Ventura County Registrar of Voters for lack of transparency. At issue was the meaning of “observation” and “challenge” with both sides differing on the interpretation of California Election Code 15104. (Editor’s Note: See https://law.onecle.com/california/elections/15104.html).

The lawsuit (initially filed on March 30 by City of Oxnard plaintiff Rolando Chinea) claimed that the Ventura County Office of Clerk and Recorder did not allowing voter transparency in the March 3, 2020 Primary Elections. 

EIP Plaintiff Rolando Chinea testifying in Ventura Superior Court.

The initial lawsuit filed claimed: “Lunn has required Observers to remain in six fixed locations of limited area (less than approximately 20 square feet) and has required Observers to raise their hands and obtain permission to move between such areas…prohibited Observers from speaking with the persons processing” ballots and not only vote by mail but “Adjudication” of damaged or defective ballots with “limited observations” occurring and at “unobservable” angles and “distances.”

Judge Walsh concluded: “The court finds that the defendant’s (Ventura County Elections Division) procedures in place are reasonable considering the need to effectively conduct the business of counting ballots and the restrictions imposed by the distancing requirements of the Covid pandemic.

“Mr. Lunn has installed Zoom technology to allow for off-site monitoring, and is expanding that for the November election. More to the point however the court finds that the role of the observer is observation of the process, and does not extend to challenging the decisions of the election workers.

“Plaintiffs (Election Integrity Project) make no contention that the process they have observed is faulty. The court finds additionally that plaintiffs are not at risk for suffering irreparable harm. The existing procedures provide them with reasonable access to be able to accomplish their function.”

Representing Mark Lunn in the Ventura Superior Court was Matthew Smith who claimed that “the Elections Division is going to make everything accessible and observable and that (EIP) can’t challenge decisions. (They are) irrelevant. That is not their job.”

Judge Walsh’s court ruling did acknowledge that the plaintiffs “are a public interest group whose purpose is to insure the integrity of the process by which mailed election ballots are counted. They are afforded certain access to the counting process by the authority of the Election Code which states that the purpose of election observers is to watch over the process of vote counting and challenge whether the election workers handling the vote by mail ballots are ‘following established procedures.’”

“We must be able to observe the process, which means to stand close enough to see the elements of the process,” said EIP President and Co-Founder Linda Paine, in a Citizens Journal call on Wednesday. “The job of Election Integrity Project is to observe the policies and procedures of a county to determine if those policies and procedures protect the integrity of the election and outcomes. We are disappointed but we will continue to safeguard fair and honest elections.”

Representing EIP Ventura County were attorneys Robert E. Williams and Steven C. Bailey. They were seeking a preliminary injunction directing Mark A. Lunn, Ventura County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters to:

  • Allow the processing of vote by mail ballot return envelopes and the processing and counting of vote by mail ballots to be open to the public both prior and after elections;
  • Allow persons wishing to observe the processing of vote by mail ballot return envelopes and ballot duplication of damaged and defective ballots close access to observe from a distance of no less than three feet of if remote by computer monitor screen at a size and resolution equal to or greater than the computer monitor screens of election workers;
  • Allow observers the means in which to communicate in a reasonably timely manner challenges in which votes are being handled; and
  • Provide observes and the public at least 48 hours advance notice of the time, place and location of where and when vote by mail ballots will be counted.

EIP Plaintiff Rolando Chinea sitting next to Attorney Stephen C. Bailey in Ventura Superior Court

Testifying in Superior Court for Election Integrity Project were: Gloria Massey Chinea, EIP volunteer coordinator for Ventura County; Mary Gallegos, volunteer election division observer; Rolando Chinea, volunteer election division observer; and Deborah Baber, volunteer election division observer.

EIP Observer Mary Gallegos testifying in Ventura Superior Court.

The attorneys for the plaintiffs produced four exhibits: Exhibit 1 included 10-pages of election correspondence between the Election Division Office and Gloria Massey Chinea concerning the 2020 primary elections; Exhibit 2 was the form that the Election Division Office uses for observers to sign-in; Exhibit 3 was a schematic map initially drawn by Mary Gallegos with assistance from other EIP observers; and Exhibit 4 was a zoom image of what is seen by observers via zoom captured by Attorney Stephen Bailey.

EIP Ventura County Coordiantor Gloria Massey Chinea testifying in Ventura Superior Court.

Judge Walsh’s ruling stated: “(Mr.) Lunn has established certain protocols which include having observers staying in certain designated areas in the ballot counting areas, prohibiting observers from communicating with election workers, and requiring that observes request permission to move from one designated area to another. Plaintiffs contend that these protocols allow them to observe, but not sufficiently so that they can lodge a challenge if they believe that an election worker has made an error in accepting a mail ballot.”

Election Integrity Project informed the Citizens Journal that process and procedure vary from county to county with the Clerk-Recorder, Registrar of Votes in each County Elections Division free to create their own election procedures. Meanwhile, Election Integrity Project continues to press forward in verifying county voting rosters and in fighting for observable election processes and procedures.

While Election Integrity Project started in December, 2010, Election Integrity Project California, a nonprofit tax-exempt nonpartisan California public benefit corporation was founded on July 21, 2017.  Election Integrity Project organizations exist in Arkansas, Arizona, California, and Nevada.  (Editor’s Note: To see EIP website go to: https://www.eip-ca.com/.)

Besides Linda Paine, the other co-founders of Election Integrity Project are Ruth Weiss, Vice President, Director of Education & Training; and Ellen Swensen, Data Research Chief Analyst.

EIPCa volunteers observe California election, study and review the extensive California Election Code as well as federal election laws that govern election processes. The non-profit researches voter rolls in multiple counties as well as VoteCal, the statewide voter registration database.

EIPCa is the first citizen election watchdog organization in California and has established a baseline of how California counties are implementing electoral procedures.  In 2012, EIP trained 2,100 volunteers to observe the polls in 36 counties. The flowing issues were identified in 2012 and in every election since:

  • Provisional Ballots:
    • 2012: California cast approximately 40 percent of all provisional ballots nationwide;
    • 2016: California cast approximately 60 percent of all provisional ballots nationwide;
    • 2018: California cast approximately 70 percent of all provisional ballotsnationwide;
  • Vote by Mail: Ballots submitted in envelopes must be “processed” and are handled by large numbers of people, making them easy to manipulate by those who have a political agenda.
  • Vulnerable Populations: Seniors, college students, and non-citizens.
  • Voter Rolls not maintained: duplicates, decreased people who moved, non-citizen registrations, inactive voters on the active list, voter impersonation facilitated by lack of photo voter ID requirement; and
  • Poll Workers: Not trained in election laws. Easily manipulated and intimidated. “County poll workers know how to set up the voting booth and manage elections, but they do not know election law making them vulnerable to manipulation by those who know the loopholes,” said Paine.

EIP challenges Vote by Mail process in Los Angeles County and California

Los Angeles County debuted a new voting system in the March 3 election, and it was plagued with problems according to EIP observers. Unreliable connections with the state voter database, inadequately trained election workers and new machines that broke down created long lines and voter frustration they reported. Many reportedly gave up and did not vote.

On March 9, Election Integrity Project, California Inc. (EIPCa) sent a letter to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Los Angeles County Registrar Dean Logan and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, describing the risks to the integrity of the November election should the county move forward with Padilla’s Vote by Mail plan, namely:

  • Los Angeles County has 206,728 registrants who have not voted or updated their registrations since November 2008 or before. Though they have not voted in more than a decade and may have died or relocated, these 206,728 registrants are still listed as “active” voters and would be mailed Vote by Mail ballots. This means “hundreds of thousands of Vote by Mail ballots will be mailed to potentially ineligible voters, which will open the door to unlawful voting. The risk is increased because California law allows anyone to gather and deliver these ballots to the Election Office.”
  • Los Angeles County has 8,158 persons who have TWO active voter registrations in their names. These persons will each be mailed two Vote by Mail ballots. “Persons receiving two Vote by Mail ballots can easily vote twice undetected,” since the system has them documented as two different voters.

Unless and until Los Angeles County’s bloated voter list is fixed, the risks associated with mailing ballots to all remain claims EIP. To make matter worse, there’s talk of legislation requiring mailed ballots to the entire state. Since most California counties have similarly bloated voter lists, this legislation will only worsen the Vote by Mail risks to the November 2020 election.  (Editor’s Note: To see letter filed go to:

sos_losangeles_200218_EIPCa _Findings_Letter_200309.)

EIP joins with Election Integrity Alliance to send President Donald J. Trump a letter challenging 2020 “honest elections”

Election Integrity Project® California (EIPCa), part of the national Election Integrity Alliance (EIA), signed a letter dated July 15, 2020 to President Donald J. Trump, warning that “a fair and honest election is not possible under current conditions.”

The letter warns that “election integrity is at greater risk than normal this November due to extraordinary and careless changes being made in the name of COVID protection.”

EIPCa’s LLC affiliates, EIP Arizona, EIP Nevada and EIP Arkansas, are the first of a growing number of supporting citizen election organizations nationwide indicating their support by signing on to the letter.

EIPCa and EIA have also initiated a petition at petitions.WhiteHouse.gov so that citizens nationwide can show their support for the contents of the letter and for an Election Integrity summit.

EIA’s letter tells the President: “We do not want to lose our Republic” and warns: “We cannot trust our state leaders to solve these problems, because in most cases they are the problem.” It calls the President “our last remaining hope to restore and protect the integrity of November’s election.”

“Every American who believes in fair and honest elections should join EIA in petitioning the President for these critical and immediate actions,” said Linda Paine, president of EIPCa. “We urge every supporting citizen and citizen organization to sign on immediately.”

EIP Ventura County hosting Liberty and Freedom Sept. 24 rally at Moorpark Eden Gardens

Election Integrity Project Ventura County is hosting an in-person and zoom Liberty and Freedom Sept. 24 rally at 3900 Eden Gardens Lane, in Moorpark from 5-9 p.m. with the actual program running from 6-9 p.m. Suggested donation is $20.20. Food is available for purchase at the in-person venue.

(Editor’s Note: To order tickets to the EIP Liberty and Freedom Rally go to:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/liberty-freedom-start-with-honest-elections-peaceful-rally-fundraiser-tickets-119944355797.)

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].


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Brian Kearsey
Brian Kearsey
7 months ago

In response to John’s comment of Sept. 20: He is obviously a misguided Trump supporter trying to rallying the troops by masquerading as an stereotypical Harris voter who lumps all Trump supporters into one stereotypical mass. In reality, we don’t need any more fuel than the Harris-Biden ticket itself, which can, must, and WILL be defeated!

John
John
7 months ago

Trumpers need to be kept at a distance. They dont want to wear masks or social distance. And all they will do is slow the vote counting down by abusing the process. I support Lunn.

William Hicks
William Hicks
7 months ago

SO, lets analyze this …..Either EIP didn’t provide adequate information to the court or Judge Walsh put his political views ahead of justice. It’s important to know which case it is so that we can either improve on EIP or remember Judge Walsh name when it’s time to select judges.

William Hicks
William Hicks
7 months ago

Justice obviously can’t be through the justice sytem in california. SO, the only way to chieve justice will be to fire all the legislators behind the democrat party.

Is that possible?