(May 3, 2006) -- LBReport.com has learned that School Board candidate Jim Deaton, who trailed incumbent School Boardmember Mary Stanton by 135 votes in the final machine-counted vote tally on April 21, has hired a law firm with expertise in election matters...and through counsel has requested a recount (under Elections Code § 15620) beginning with six precincts within School Board District 1...as well as the opportunity to inspect a number of materials (also under the Elections Code) involving ballots and vote cast.
LBReport.com has learned that the recount is scheduled to take place Thursday, May 4 in the City Council chamber, starting at 10 a.m.
In a letter dated and faxed to the City Clerk's office on May 2, the law firm of Strumwasser & Woocher requested on Mr. Deaton's behalf a manual examination of ballots cast in six specified precincts...and indicated that after those results are tallied, a decision will be made on whether to continue.
Attorney Fredric Woocher cited Elections Code § 15630 in requesting access to (among other things) all rejected provisional ballots and envelopes, with the reasons therefor; all accepted provisional ballot envelopes; all rejected absentee ballot envelopes and the reasons therefor; all accepted absentee ballot envelopes and the corresponding absentee ballot application forms; all returned precinct election packages, with the contents thereof; all absentee ballot applications and requests for absentee ballots, together with any records memorializing the dates such requests were received and responded to; any logs or records documenting the machine ballot-tallying; and any "e-mails, notes, logs, or other documentation of any questions, requests for assistance, complaints, or irregularities and any of the polling locations or with respect to the casting of any absentee ballots" in connection with the April 11 election.
The stakes could hardly be higher.
Mr. Deaton is one of a trio of challengers backed by the Teachers Ass'n of Long Beach (TALB). If all three TALB challengers prevail, they would gain a majority on the five-member LBUSD School Board, with the power to set policy for CA's third largest school district...and direct bargaining, negotiation and approval of contracts on pay, benefits and working conditions for LBUSD teachers...represented by TALB.
On April 11, TALB-backed Michael Ellis defeated School Board president Suja Lowenthal...who'd previously announced planned to abandon her School Board seat if she finishes first in a "winner-take-all" election for the vacated 2d district Council seat. In ELB/Lakewood, TALB-backed David Barton will face School Boardmember Jim Choura in a June runoff; Barton drew 44.8% of the vote, Choura had 38.5% in the April three-candidate race.
If Deaton [via a recount or otherwise] were to oust Stanton, a TALB-backed majority could gain control of the LBUSD Board if Barton beats Choura in June...a race which is already expected to be extraordinarily hard fought.
City Clerk Larry Herrera has previously told LBReport.com that the recount procedure basically involves assembling a board that will go through the precincts and hand count the ballots, one by one, to determine that the votes are properly counted.
Because Boardmember Stanton led challenger Deaton by nearly two full percentage points at the end of the machine ballot tally, Deaton will be paying the cost of the recount...unless the recount changes the outcome (in which case taxpayers will pay).