The San Diego citizens who are suing for transparency and accountability in elections witnessed the second hearing in this matter before the Honorable Judge Yuri Hofmann in the San Diego County Superior Court.

From the courthouse by cell phone Contestant Barbara Gail Jacobsen reported, “Paul Lehto and Ken Simpkins represented us very well today in court. ‘We the People of this country decide on who is going to represent us, and it’s through making sure that our elections are sound that we can know for sure that we have elected people that we want to transfer power to.’” (Quote posted by Emily Levy at

Earlier this year, San Diego voters discovered these easily hackable, electronic voting machines were sent home with poll workers on “sleepovers” prior to the June 6th Special Election, violating state and federal laws. Ironically, the election was held to fill the 50th Congressional District seat made vacant by the felony conviction of Republican Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

Machine sleepovers weren’t the only problems faced by concerned citizens. Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas resisted public records requests, refusing to turn over information, and charged $150,000 to recount 164,000 votes. To give this perspective, Ohioans paid $113,000 to recount 5½ million votes in 2004.

Reaching that place of “I can’t take it anymore,” San Diego citizens sued on July 30th, one day after the election was certified. Contestants Gail Jacobson and Lillian Ritt seek a hand count of all the ballots, all documents necessary to validate the results, a reasonable charge for the recount set by the Court, attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation, and anything else the Court deems proper.

Below is a brief timeline of events:

• June 6, 2006 Special Election held
• June 13th, Brian Bilbray was sworn into Congress in Washington, D.C.
• June 29th, Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas certified the election results
• July 30th, Contestants filed suit
• August 11th, First hearing in court: Briefing and trial schedule is set by the court
• August 22nd, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss
• August 24th, Contestants filed Opposition to Motion to Dismiss
• August 25th, Second Hearing held
• August 29th, Court to rule on Constitutional and Jurisdictional Issues

On June 13, before the mandatory 1% ballot audit was completed and weeks before the election was certified (June 29th), Bilbray flew to DC to be sworn in as a Member of Congress.

The first hearing in this matter was held on August 11th before Judge Yuri Hofmann (who bears a resemblance to Robert Duvall). Defendants gave a preview of their upcoming arguments, and the Court set the briefing and trial schedule.

On August 22nd, Defendants filed a their motion to dismiss on the grounds that because Bilbray was already sworn in, the Court has no jurisdiction whatsoever. They assert that the House has exclusive jurisdiction to judge who its members are and the qualifications of those members.

In response to this absurdity, on the 24th, Contestants argued, “The federal Constitution, after all, clearly commits the time, place and manner of elections to the States, including California. Thus, the question presented is whether a premature swearing in of Brian Bilbray by the House of Representatives terminated the election processes of the State of California, even though the US Constitution specifically provides that the States control the time, place and manner of federal elections.”

This case has national implications because the defense argues that State laws on administration of federal elections have no authority. Contestants assert that “This simply makes no constitutional or federalism sense.”

Contestants further point out, “Not argued … is the public interest and the independent interests of the elector[s] in vindicating the accuracy of elections, without which similar practices or errors would simply be repeated again in November and other future elections.

“Clearly… an election contest is an action in the public interest, not primarily for the private interest of particular candidates.”

Defendants make an amazing assertion as we face the all-important Mid-Term elections. We are about to vote on machines that are hackable, in election systems run by politicians seeking office, and run by elections officials who refuse to open fully the process to international authorities, to invited investigators, or to citizens. We are about to vote in an election process where it is handled any way that election officials deem best, even if contrary to state and federal law. We are about to vote on voting systems that are the least secure, the most expensive, and the least verifiable. (At the minimum, we can’t count electrons.)

The fate of the San Diego lawsuit will determine whether US citizens reclaim democracy before the November 2006 elections. Contributions are needed: