The boys will be back with a vengeance in Costa Mesa tonight. The Righeimer Gang has called a Special City Council Meeting to consider calling a separate city election for Righeimer’s Charter Initiative piggy-backing on the June Primary Election but managing the election themselves. According to a press release from the City, the meeting will start at approximately 5:30 pm. It will immediately follow the Council Study Session which begins at 4:30 pm.
At last week’s City Council meeting Mayor Eric Bever ordered CEO Tom Hatch to investigate what would be involved in having the city go it alone and put the proposed charter before the voters in June without going through the Registrar of Voters.
Well, it turns out there is a way, but it isn’t cheap—and for the voters it wouldn’t be easy and would likely be confusing. The staff report under consideration at this irregular meeting pegs the cost of hiring another consultant, Martin and Chapman Co. of Anaheim, at approximately double what it would have cost if the measure had made it to the ballot on time; $153,697.80 to be precise. That doesn’t include whatever the County Registrar of Voters might charge for piggy-backing on their volunteers and polling locations.
While Martin and Chapman Co. has been doing business since 1956, they still make mistakes. The company was in the news recently because of a ballot translation screw-up in Arcadia.
The election would use the same polling places and volunteers as the June primary election run by the Registrar of Voters, but that is where the similarity would end. Prior to the election registered voters would receive a separate ballot information pamphlet in the mail.
Voters in Costa Mesa would not be voting in the city’s special election using the Registrar of Voters electronic voting machines. They would receive a separate paper ballot for the special election that they would need to complete in addition to the electronic ballot. Those voting by mail would receive one Vote By Mail (VBM) ballot from the Registrar of Voters for the primary election and another VBM ballot separately from the city. The ballots would not be able to be sent back together, as they would be for two totally separate elections. Anyone sending their ballots together, would probably have their votes invalidated.
Talk about confusing voters. Imagine the following conversation between a husband and wife the week before the election.
Wife: Honey, did you mail in your absentee ballot for the primary election?
Husband: Yes dear, I sent it in to the Registrar of Voters.
Wife: What about the Costa Mesa ballot?
Husband: I just told you I sent it in.
Wife: You said you sent in the primary ballot, I’m now asking about the city ballot.
Husband: Aren’t they the same thing?
Now imagine explaining this to elderly parents or in-laws.
But of even greater concern is the reality that a hired consultant will be tabulating the votes for this election. That’s right, the people counting the votes will be bought and paid for by the Righeimer Gang. There will be no independent vote counter for the special election as would happen using the Registrar of Voters. The voters of Costa Mesa will just have to trust that the votes are counted correctly.
Are these guys really so desperate to ram through Righiemer’s City Charter Initiative in a June election that they’re willing to spend twice the money, and risk major voter confusion just to get their way? We’ll see what happens tonight. Maybe Bever will tell the residents of Costa Mesa again:
“So if you guys don’t like it, well, tough luck.” — Councilman Eric Bever, 1-03-2012
This scene reminds me of that song from the movie Chicago, Razzle Dazzle.
Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle ‘em
Give ‘em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give ‘em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather ‘em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?
What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you’re just disgusting?
Razzle dazzle ‘em
And they;ll never catch wise!
Here is a video clip of the full number from the movie.