Friday, June 15, 2007

Becky Stoeckel has disqualified herself from the 51st appeal.

Not because of money she received, or her endorsement of Lucas. Political people do political things, and should be able to separate their official duties from their non-official duties.

No, her disqualifying failure is in pre-judging the appeal before it has even reached her desk. From today's Potomac News, Lucas appeals nomination decision:
She said she supports Lucas' appeal and thinks that the two precincts with inexplicable overvotes should be disqualified.
No person can be considered a fair judge after stating they SUPPORT one side before they have seen ALL the facts, which includes testimony from both parties. Only Lucas's side has been speaking publicly. And based on that, Becky has already decided Lucas is right? A person who sits in judgment MUST be disqualified if they have prejudged the case before hearing the evidence.

Further, her comment about the "two precincts" shows she is judging based on evidence not before her. The official report is that three precincts overvoted. The Lucas appeal before the 51st district committee apparently claims one was not overvoted. That's not a fact before Becky, but her statement presumes it to be true.

So Stoeckel has made her decision about what should be done based on information NOT in evidence, and before the appeal is in front of her, and before she's seen the evidence. No person doing so can later claim to be impartial or fair.

Becky MUST recuse herself from judgment. Stating the outcome of the appeal to a REPORTER before you even hear the appeal is clearly inappropriate and disqualifying.

Further, her argument is faulty:
"If someone can put three extra ballots in, they could easily put in 10," she said. There would be no way of knowing if that happened, she said, since the ballots are anonymous.
First, there is NO indication a "someone" put "three extra ballots" in. The ballots were tightly controlled, individually numbered, and handed out by election monitors who had to check the credential badge for the name and precinct before handing out a single ballot.

There is no report of extra numbered ballots in Lake Ridge, so the election monitor for Lake Ridge likely handed out 80 ballots to 80 valid people. So they likely weren't "extra ballots", simply ballots cast in the wrong precinct.

Second, even if you ASSUMED there were 10 extra ballots, and they were for Gill, in Lake Ridge, and therefore subtracted 10 from Gill in Lake Ridge (and took the 1 overvote from Purcell) , Gill would still win (Gill: 207.25, Lucas: 204.75).

In fact, for Lucas to win you'd have to take a total of 15 votes from Gill in Lake Ridge.

Further, it is highly unlikely Lake Ridge had 10 "extra" votes. The undervote for the convention was 6%. So for Lake Ridge, you'd expect 5 undervotes, 8 fewer votes in Lake Ridge than were actually cast, NOT 10, and certainly not 15.

In fact, the WORST precinct for undervotes only had 8 undervotes.

It's likely the Lake Ridge overvotes were people who voted in the wrong precinct. The 2nd-most UNDERVOTED precinct was Mohican (6 undervotes, almost 20% undervote), which is right next to Lake Ridge. If three Mohican voters accidentally voted in next-door Lake Ridge, that would account for the overvotes.

Neighboring Springwood also had almost 20% undervotes -- and if those 2 undervotes voted in Lake Ridge by mistake, that would help account for the overvotes.

So while Lake Ridge had 3 "overvotes", 8 more votes than average, the two neighboring precincts had 8 undervotes, 6 FEWER votes than the average -- almost a wash.

So it seems we can be pretty certain nobody "stuffed" 10 extra votes, much less 15, into Lake Ridge -- if they had, we'd expect more than 3 overvotes.

Given the math, and given that the ballots were numbered and handed out IN LINE by election monitors who watched them put into the ballot boxes, it is inexplicable why Becky Stoeckel believes before hearing the evidence that someone "stuffed" 3-10 ballots in Lake Ridge, and thinks that throwing out 103 VALID votes (that's over 16% of the delegates) is the "appropriate" response.

The very thought that you would disqualify over 100 valid voters because of what is likely a trivial error of allowing a few people to PROPERLY vote but in the IMPROPER precinct should be laughed at by people of common sense.

Update: I've also learned that Rockledge precinct includes part of the Lake Ridge community -- and Rockledge had 6 undervotes, about 10% undervoted, when you'd have "expected" 3. If those other 3 undervotes were cast in Lake Ridge by accident, that would also fully explain the "overvote".

Update 6/17: John M. in a post about the 11th CD makeup comments on my post, saying in part:

But what Charles doesn't tell you is that in the same article where Stoeckel said that the overvoting precincts should be disqualified, Kopko, who is also on the Committee, disagreed:

"So far there doesn't seem to be any precedent for throwing out an entire precinct," he said. "So far the most common remedy I've seen and have been told about is to make a determination of whether the overvotes, and only the overvotes, if given to the loser, would change the outcome of the election, and it doesn't change the outcome of the election."

So if Stoeckel recuses herself then so should Kopko. And since Kopko has resolutely refused to recuse himself from any matter concerning the Gill-Lucas contest, so should Stoeckel.

But there is a big difference. Tom Kopko HAS the appeal before him right now. He has all the evidence, and is evaluating the evidence. Becky has no appeal or evidence before her, but has already made a pronouncement of how she would rule.

Tom's comment is not a pre-judgment. It's not even a judgment. He is commenting on the current state of his deliberation, where he is actually researching what other conventions have done when there were overvotes. In other words, he is commenting on the evidence he is finding during fact-finding, in response to Becky's pre-judgment that has been published in the newspaper.

Becky will be a juror in the case, and she has pre-judged the case and tainted the results by publicly calling on a particular action before the evidence is presented.

1 comment:

James Young said...

Nothing like a little "prejudice," in the true sense of the word, don't you think, Charles?