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Monday, December 13, 2004

Newspaper claims no intent to overturn election with recount request.

Union-Tribune Reader's Representative Gina Lubrano devoted the bulk of her column today to the media requests for a recount in the San Diego mayoral election. Under the misleading headline "Why all the votes should be counted" Lubrano explains the reasons behind the Union-Tribune's request. (The headline is misleading because all the votes have been counted. Some ballots were not counted because voters did not follow the rules when they failed to darken an oval before writing in Donna Frye's name. See earlier "misteramericano" posts "Media acts to overturn election results in San Diego mayoral election" "Why is voting like pitching a baseball" and "What's a democracy without rules?" for more background on the controversy.)

Lubrano begins her column with two questions, "Who would have won if all the write-in votes for Donna Frye had been counted?" and "Although the count alone won't change the outcome, wouldn't you like to know?" Well, yes, it would be nice to know but the premise of the question is misleading. Pending further research into California's election law, let's take on faith at this time that the "count alone" will not change the outcome. Nonetheless, the recount may provide ammunition sought by Frye's supporters to overturn the election results. That point is made clear later in Lubrano's column by attorney Fred Woocher who is acting independently of the media on behalf of a Frye supporter. Woocher says he requested his recount so he "can decide whether to file a lawsuit asking that the disputed votes be officially tallied."

Moreover, the only mayoral candidate who is contemplating a recount with an eye towards challenging the election result is Frye. Thus, while saying it is acting without any intent to overturn the election or to assist any candidate, the newspaper is acting in support of Frye's candidacy.

The media's request at this time is misguided for another reason. Union-Tribue Editor Karin Winner is quoted in Lubrano's column as follows: "We believe it's important for Mayor Murphy to get on with solving San Diego's critical issues. At the same time, we believe the only way to truly bring this mayoral election to a close is to see that all the ballots --- bubbled or not --- are counted. It's for closure, not to get the election overturned."

Closure is the least likely outcome of this misguided venture.

The media's recount request is completely unnecessary since Woocher has already sought a recount. The media should stay out of this election. They should limit themselves to reporting on Woocher's recount request and whatever lawsuit follows. To do otherwise is to abandon neutrality in this election, which although the results are certified and Murphy has been sworn in, is far from being over.

Meanwhile, as of now Frye has not taken action to request a recount. Why should she when local media are doing the job for her?

-tdr

P.S. Here's the latest news on when the recount will begin:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/politics/cities/20041213-1011-recount.html

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