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 Democracy in the Trash

By Marc Garman and Katy Miessner

Shortly after 4 PM today Gary Cloutier addressed the press and a small throng of citizens from the steps in front of Vallejo City Hall. Cloutier stated that he felt  "a combination of gross negligence and human incompetence" contributed to undermining the validity of the recount.   He went on to say, "...they found a ballot in the garbage after I was given assurances by Mr. Rosenthal that they had counted every ballot." Cloutier indicated his intent to pursue a temporary restraining order in court  to prevent Osby Davis from being sworn in as mayor on Tuesday.

Council member Stephanie Gomes commented, "As a citizen I am deeply concerned that we're told that every vote counts and yet we had a vote found in the trash can."

There were supporters and detractors of both candidates in attendance as well as an indecisive few.  However, the overriding concerns for the rights of each voter to be counted overshadowed the debate.

Vallejo resident Dave West was disturbed by the choice of Kevin Shelley (discredited former CA Secretary of State who's job had been to prevent election fraud among other things) as Davis' council for the recount.  He told VIB, "[I] didn't have a solid choice until really today-- it didn't matter.  I would have been happy with either as long as there was no fighting about the ballots."  but he continued, "If someone is gonna use Shelley and blatantly state that they are...I just changed my mind about Osby Davis."

When asked about conditions during the recount, election observer Patrick Farrell found the recount process quite chaotic, "the way they handled the ballots was less than desirable.  People were throwing them at each other, back and forth, and they had ballots on the floor." he continued, " The other part that really bothered me was that Davis was there early in the morning before we got there.  We weren't allowed [by the registrar] to go in until 9 o'clock but he had already been there for a while."

Davis supporter Linda DeOcampo who would, "like to see Osby as mayor" also agreed that it did not seem like the vote was handled properly.

When asked if she thought the voters have been poorly served by the registrar, Cloutier campaign manager Pam Keith gave the simple reply, "absolutely, absolutely, absolutely"

In his closing comments to reporters, Cloutier reiterated his concerns, stating, "Our observers noticed that on 3 occasions there was a 2 or 1 vote discrepancy between the number of votes that were counted by machine and the number of votes that were actually counted by hand.  That's five votes that have not been accounted for.  And the registrar has not given a credible or full explanation as to the difference between that machine count and the hand count. That could be the election right there."