Dublin residents who mounted recall efforts against two locally elected officials were illegally barred by the Alameda County Registar of Voters from reviewing fully a recall petition that narrowly failed to secure the required number of signatures to appear on the November election, according to a lawsuit filed Nov. 28 in Alameda County Superior Court.
Last summer, Dubliners United, the group behind the complaint, sought to recall Dublin school trustee Dan Cunningham and Councilmember Abe Gupta. The effort against Gupta was terminated after he announced he would not seek re-election to the Dublin City Council. But the signature-gathering process for Cunningham, who detractors label as rude and verbally abusive toward residents during meetings, moved forward, attracting 6,318 signatures for a petition to recall.
But the Alameda Country Registrar of Voters office in August determined the recall petition contained just 5,266 valid signatures–a figure 43 signatures short of the minimum required for the recall question to be placed on the November ballot.
According to the complaint, Dubliners United alleged their right to review the veracity of the registrar’s determination was violated.
While the group was allowed to peruse the petition, they were not allowed access to the full process, nor was a full accounting given to them as why some signatures were invalidated by the registrar, according to the complaint.
No access to the county’s voter registration records were allowed by the registrar. Furthermore, representatives from Dubliners United were allowed to take notes while reviewing the process, but were collected afterwards by the registrar.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss the lawsuit during a closed session meeting Tuesday afternoon. A case management hearing is set for Feb. 20 at the Hayward of Justice.
This past election cycle proved difficult for the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. Similar to other counties in California, Dupuis’ handling of tabulating the Election Night results in an expedited manner received considerable criticism. Following a trend from the past two election cycles, Alameda County voters and candidates, for instance, waited more than three hours for an update of the initial Vote-By-Mail count.
The growing rise of early voting is cited as a major reason for the delay, which last November kept some local races too-close-to-call for nearly two weeks following Election Night. More than half of all the ballots in Alameda County were counted after the day of the election.
Critics of the Registrar’s Office have urged for greater funding of the department. In fact, the early criticism following Election Night pushed the Registrar’s Office into overtime. County employees counted and verified ballots through the next weekend, including the Labor Day holiday.
During the June 2016 primary in Alameda County, supporters of Bernie Sanders’ bid president claimed during a Board of Supervisors following the election that the Registrar of Voter’s Office restricted access to them to review the vote-counting process. Hillary Clinton topped Sanders in Alameda County’s vote count. Dupuis repeatedly avoided questioning about certain parts of the process, numerous speakers claimed in 2016, including a few who referenced a mysterious “red bin” filled with ballots.