Ninth Circuit Allows Court Challenges to California’s Election Laws as Voters Await Final Counts on House Races

By Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times.
November 23, 2022 Updated: November 23, 2022

A citizens advocacy group has standing to challenge California’s controversial voting laws and regulations in federal court, according to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“This lawsuit is monumental because it is the first to challenge the constitutionality of California’s election laws and procedures, and we are the first to get past standing,” Mariah Gondeiro, lead attorney with Advocates for Faith and Freedom, said in a statement following the decision.

Advocates for Faith and Freedom (AFF) is a Murrieta, California-based public interest law firm that represents the Election Integrity Project California (EIPCa), the citizens advocacy group that brought the suit.

“If we win, California will be required to enforce secure and uniform vote casting and vote counting procedures,” Gondeiro said.

“For over a decade, Election Integrity Project®California has researched and documented every aspect of California’s election process and identified how these laws transformed an Election Day into a 60-day election season fraught with easy to manipulate procedures,” EIPCa’s President, Linda Paine, said in the statement.

“We are now seeing California Style laws in states across the country creating the same problems that have been witnessed and documented by EIPCa-trained observers in California for years,” Paine said.

The Ninth Circuit remanded the case to the U.S. District Court for Central California, which had previously ruled that EIPCa lacked standing.

In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit said EIPCa’s mission is to “‘ensure that every lawfully cast vote is accurately counted’ and to use the observations of its volunteers to ‘advocate for greater election integrity,’ and that California’s regulations have frustrated its mission by ‘lead[ing] to pervasive irregularities in the election process that threaten to disenfranchise California voters.’”

The court noted that, according to the EIPCa complaint, “California has enacted legislation requiring every active registered voter in California to receive a vote-by-mail ballot, and the state has not developed procedures to ensure that only eligible voters will receive such ballots in the future.

“The complaint further alleges that California’s Secretary of State promulgated regulations that prevent meaningful standards from being applied to verify signatures on vote-by-mail ballots.

“According to the complaint, these inadequate processes give rise to ‘massive opportunities for both error and fraud,’ and ‘[b]ecause the same or substantially similar laws, regulations, orders and practices are governing and will govern upcoming elections, the same situation will repeat’ in future elections.”

With the case being sent back to the District Court, both sides will now begin preparing for the discovery phase of the litigation. Named in its suit by EIPCa as defendants are California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Secretary of State Shirley Weber and 13 county registrars.

The ruling that EIPCa has standing to challenge California’s election laws comes as hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots cast in the Nov. 8 midterm election are yet to be counted, with a result that two races for congressional seats remain undecided.

As The Epoch Times reported Monday, one of two uncalled races in California includes the 13th Congressional District. Currently, Republican John Duarte leads Democrat Adam Gray by about 800 votes, data shows.  Meanwhile, in the state’s 3rd Congressional District, Republican Kevin Kiley holds a nearly 5-point lead over Democrat Kermit Jones with about 71 percent of votes counted as of Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

Among the procedures EIPCa challenges is California’s sending of mail-in ballots to every registered voter in the state prior to an election. The state also allows vote harvesting, a process under which voters can fill out their ballot, then give it to an individual who promises to cast the ballot.

In its appeal to the Ninth Circuit, EIPCa argued that “over the years, California has passed laws, orders, and regulations under the guise of increasing voter participation. Although a laudable goal, these laws and regulations have systemically undermined election integrity by legalizing unrestrained and unrestricted ballot harvesting, eliminating chain of custody, solidifying universal vote-by-mail (“VBM”) and gutting signature verification requirements.

“The State and County Appellees claim Appellants lack standing because their allegations amount to generalized, speculative claims of vote fraud. They even impugn Appellants’ motives for bringing this case. Appellants bring this case to ensure the integrity of future elections, and ensuring all votes are counted equally protects democracy, for ‘(f)ree and honest elections are the very foundation of our republican form of government.’”

Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times.