Lawsuit demands county pick up tab for ballot gathering in Measure A recount

An anticipated lawsuit over the handling of the Measure A recount was officially filed Monday by the Long Beach Reform Coalition with the group seeking a second shot at a recount with the county picking up some of the tab.

The case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court Monday on behalf of the coalition whose executive director, Ian Patton, had requested the recount of Measure A last month. Measure A, the sales-tax which was permanently extended by Long Beach voters in through the March 3 primary, prevailed by just 16 votes.

The defendant listed in the suit is Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Clerk Dean Logan, the county’s top election official, who presided over the rollout of a new $300 million voting system that was marred by long lines and glitches during its first wide-scale use during the March primary.

The suit is seeking injunctive relief against the county and for a court to rule that the county must conduct a traditional paper recount “at a reasonable cost” and through a method that can be physically verified.

“If we cannot trust the results of voting in democracy, we have no democracy at all,” a statement from the coalition said.

Patton previously said that the county’s new electronic voting system that allowed voters to cast ballots from anywhere in the county contributed to an inflated recount cost that topped $200,000. That would have made the Measure A recount the most expensive recount in county history.

That cost deviated from the county’s published recount estimated costs with a large chunk of it being attributed to having to physically recover all the Long Beach ballots, which could have been spread across thousands of boxes of ballots due to the county’s new voting rules.

County election officials estimated doing that could take 16 days at a cost of nearly $12,000 per day before actual counting could begin.

After refusing to pay the required daily installment last month, the county called off the recount and set in motion the coalition’s legal challenge filed Monday.

The text of the suit asks for the county to recover all the physical ballots and sort them by precinct at the county’s expense and to conduct a full physical recount of Measure A at a cost consistent with the county’s published estimates or at a price that doesn’t make the process cost prohibitive.

It also asks that a court rule that any money already spent by Patton be counted toward the cost of the new recount.

A county spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit citing the county’s policy that it does not comment on existing litigation.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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