Friday, May 9, 2008

Officials throw out votes in Rincon sewer election


Ventura County elections officials announced yesterday that 12 people who voted in an election that could determine whether or not the Rincon Beach community will get sewers, did not have the right to do so.
The 12 votes in question would have likely tipped the scales in favor of sewer opponents, who have vehemently opposed the plan.

As it stands, the vote will narrowly go in favor of sewer conversion in the beachfront community. The group Health the Ocean, an outspoken proponent of sewers, challenged 19 of the votes shortly after they were cast in an April 22 annexation election. Seven of the challenged votes were determined to be legitimate.
Hillary Hauser, executive director of Heal the Ocean, said the final tally is expected to be 73 for annexation, and 66 against.
Fred Woocher, an election law attorney representing Heal the Ocean, said in an e-mail that was provided to the Daily Sound by Hauser, that 10 of the ballots were rejected due to issues with residency and the other two were thrown out because the signatures didn’t match.
Attempts to reach Ventura County Election officials were not immediately successful yesterday.
In a Daily Sound story published on April 25, Woocher alleged several voters registered at homes near Rincon solely for the purpose of thwarting the sewer conversion.
He said one address on Puesta del Sol had 14 people registered as voters in a short period of time last winter, many with prior voter registrations in other counties
A deputy district attorney confirmed in the April 25 story that law enforcement officials were investigating the circumstances surrounding the challenged votes.
Hauser said she welcomed the news of the thrown out votes, but won’t be surprised if the opponents of the project continue to fight it.
“They may try to sue,” she said. “[But] they’re running out of things to lob at us and the project.”
As a result of this vote, the Carpinteria Sanitary District will be able to annex the Rincon Point, Sandyland Cove, Sand Point Road and Padaro Lane communities under its umbrella — a move that would open the door for sewers. The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors still will have to approve the annexation.
The fight for sewers in this area has grown increasingly heated over the past year, with opponents arguing that installing costly sewers will do little to clean up the water — the main reason cited by Hauser in her argument for sewers.
One of those opponents is Billy Taylor, who told the Daily Sound last night that Ventura County’s decision to throw out the votes is, “absolutely wrong.”
“I feel that the ruling by the Ventura County Registrar is completely outrageous,” he said. “They have no real basis for denying voters’ rights.”
Last October, the majority of residents living in the four beach communities voted in favor of sewer conversion. But before the Carpinteria Sanitary District could begin selling bonds to pay for the project, which is expected to cost each homeowner about $88,000, the Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, had to approve the annexation.
Since the annexation is nearly complete (Santa Barbara County elections officials are expected to certify the election results next week), it appears the sewer conversion will move to the next step.
That’s little comfort to Taylor, who believes conversion to sewers will not clean up the water at Rincon, essentially making the entire effort a waste of time and money.
But that doesn’t mean he, or any of the other opponents are going to relent.
“This is not a situation of voter fraud,” he said. “They stepped way out of bounds. I think they stand on very shaky ground.”


Anonymous said...

Heal the Ocean's sewer-loving fake environmental policies should be flushed down the nearest toilet. Hillary Hauser is making her entire organization and all who support her look bad. Clearly, money CAN buy you votes. Some democracy.

how again is this "not a situation of voter fraud"? said...

To quote from the article:

"10 of the ballots were rejected due to issues with residency and the other two were thrown out because the signatures didn’t match."

The only fraud is that a sewer will "heal the ocean" said...

This is no victory.

Anonymous said...

How about prosecution of those fraudulent voters?