I guess the law isn’t quite clear enough…

After submitting my post regarding the State AG’s findings in the Tan Nguyen intimidation scandal I found myself comppeled to go back and look at the state law regarding voter intimidation.  This is what I found:

 

18540.  (a) Every person who makes use of or threatens to make use
of any force, violence, or tactic of coercion or intimidation, to induce or compel any other person to vote or refrain from voting at any election or to vote or refrain from voting for any particular person or measure at any election, or because any person voted or refrained from voting at any election or voted or refrained from voting for any particular person or measure at any election is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or two or three years.
   (b) Every person who hires or arranges for any other person to make use of or threaten to make use of any force, violence, or tactic of coercion or intimidation, to induce or compel any other person to vote or refrain from voting at any election or to vote or refrain from voting for any particular person or measure at any election, orbecause any person voted or refrained from voting at any election or voted or refrained from voting for any particular person or measure at any election is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or two or three years.

18543.  (a) Every person who knowingly challenges a person’s right to vote without probable cause or on fraudulent or spurious grounds, or who engages in mass, indiscriminate, and groundless challenging of voters solely for the purpose of preventing voters from voting or to delay the process of voting, or who fraudulently advises any person that he or she is not eligible to vote or is not registered to vote when in fact that person is eligible or is registered, or who violates Section 14240, is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 12 months or in the state prison.
   (b) Every person who conspires to violate subdivision (a) is guilty of a felony.

We all know that the letters went to 14,000 legally registered voters.  As registered voters these individuals are entitled to the right to vote, without intimidation or obstruction by anyone.  The only way a voter may be challenged is if an  elections official has specific and compelling evidence that the voter is not eligible to vote.  Elections officials are the only people who may directly intervene to stop someone from voting illegally.

I’ve got just one question for AG Moon Beam and his Senior Assistant AG in San Diego; How on earth can you conclude that section 18543 was not violated when eligible voters were challeneged without probable cause, by a mass and indiscriminate mailing to legally registered voters?  I cannot find anything in the code that talks about “intent.”  It is that act of intimidation that is the crime.  From what I can see, intent is nothing more than icing on the cake. 

I just don’t get their reasoning here.

  5 comments for “I guess the law isn’t quite clear enough…

  1. May 17, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Now ain’t that the truth, Chris! I just don’t get it. Even if a conviction would have been tough, Jerry Brown still should have done his job by holding Tan Nguyen accountable for ILLEGALLY INTIMIDATING OVER 14,000 LEGALLY REGISTERED VOTERS. I’m really disappointed in AG Moonbeam here. I thought he actually cared about protecting the people of California by enforcing the law.

    I’m now regretting my vote for him over Delgadillo last June. : (

  2. May 17, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    chris — you wrote: “We all know that the letters went to 14,000 legally registered voters.” i’m not taking sides in this, but there is no way for you or me to know right now whether all of these people were legally registered. the registrar doesn’t check that and there’s been no formal inquiry into it, as there was during dornan-sanchez 1996 (which determined that there were several hundred illegally registered voters — folks who had not yet become citizens). i personally believe that most of those 14,000 were legally registered, but you undercut your argument by stating as fact that they all are legally registered when, i suspect, it is conjecture or assumption rather than fact.

  3. May 17, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    p.s. here’s the link to a proposed law that would tighten what the statute that chris quotes above. sanchez and others have said that there’s a problem with existing law.

    SB 653

    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/sen/sb_0651-0700/sb_653_bill_20070222_introduced.html

  4. May 17, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Martin,
    Thants for your comment and the link to the proposed legislation.

    My premise regarding the 14,000 registered voters who were sent letters is that absent compelling evidence to the contrary all registered voters are by law presumed to be legally registered voters.

    The letter that was sent presumed that, solely on the basis of a hispanic surname, and having been born in a latin american country, that some of the 14,000 registered voters were not legally able to vote. In fact, some U.S. born Latinos were sent a letter.

    It is not legal for a candidate or individual to make such a baseless and blanket assertion. To do so, is voter intimidation and/or harassment. The same principle and law that made the placement of securuty guards holding signs that stated “Non-Citizens Can’t Vote” at precincts in Latino neighborhoods in Santa Ana in 1988 illegal applies here. It is wrong and it is illegal.

    The question of a voter’s eligibility to vote is a matter for the Registrar of Voters. Therefore until the Registrar of Voters determines which, if any, of those voters are not legally entitled to vote, all of them are presumed to be legally registered to vote. That same presumption applies to all of us not just non-Latinos.

  5. Dan Chmielewski
    May 18, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    Marty — I think all of us agree you’re fair minded and you make an honest shake at covering both sides. But as a whole, the Register does have a decided tilt way to the Right. From the editorial cartoons to comics (Mallard Fillmore, no Doonesbury), editorial columnists from the left are barely found.  Democrats aren’t “out” here because of the perception that Republicans rule everything. There are far more of us than most people realize.

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