By Team Ervin
Lancaster City Council candidate Johnathon Ervin has evidence that the City of Lancaster has violated the California Election Code (Section 13313) by denying members of the public an opportunity to have copies of the Lancaster City Council candidates’ ballot statements for the April municipal election.
Additionally, Ervin’s ballot statement was publicized and released to the public.
“On January 20th, I saw my candidate statement, the one I affixed my signature to and that was submitted to the City Clerk and Asst. City Attorney, posted online in a Facebook discussion board,” Ervin said. [See screenshot here.]
A member of Antelope Valley Letters to the Editor Facebook group posted the ballot statement on social media and claimed, “The statement I posted got sent to me as an e-mail attachment. I guess it’s makin’ the rounds among interested AV peoples.”
However, both Ervin and his campaign aide had been told by City officials on two different occasions that no one could make copies of the candidate statements, take photos of them or in any way record them; and that they were to be viewed only, and that hand-written notes could be made.
California Election Code (Section 13313) clearly states that:
“(a) The elections official shall make a copy of the material referred to in Section 13307 available for public examination in the elections official’s office for a period of 10 calendar days immediately following the filing deadline for submission of those documents. Any person may obtain a copy of the candidate’s statements from the elections official for use outside of the elections official’s office. The elections official may charge a fee to any person obtaining a copy of the material, and the fee may not exceed the actual cost incurred by the elections official in providing the copy.
(b) (1) During the 10-calendar-day public examination period provided by this section, any voter of the jurisdiction in which the election is being held, or the elections official, himself or herself, may seek a writ of mandate or an injunction requiring any or all of the material in the candidates statements to be amended or deleted. The writ of mandate or injunction request shall be filed no later than the end of the 10-calendar-day public examination period.
(2) A peremptory writ of mandate or an injunction shall issue only upon clear and convincing proof that the material in question is false, misleading, or inconsistent with the requirements of this chapter, and that issuance of the writ or injunction will not substantially interfere with the printing or distribution of official election materials as provided by law.
(3) The elections official shall be named as respondent and the candidate who authored the material in question shall be named as the real party in interest. In the case of the elections official bringing the mandamus or injunctive action pursuant to this subdivision, the board of supervisors of the county shall be named as the respondent and the candidate who authored the material in question shall be named as the real party in interest”
Ervin states, “I have no objections to my candidate statement being freely available for any and all persons to review and critique. However, I was told explicitly by the City Clerk and staff on January 10th, 2014 that no copies may be made whatsoever of any candidate statements. I ask for all city staffers to offer the public a fair and transparent process, and that all candidates be treated equally.”
Ervin sent an email to City Manager Mark Bozigian asking for clarification, which was followed by a call from City Attorney Allison Burns, stating that the City had made an error, and that although the City violated the California Election Code, they did so uniformly for all candidates and no one received a copy of the candidate statement. To date, Ervin has received no written response from the city as requested from the city attorney.
The experience has made Ervin call for the city of Lancaster to do the following:
- Re-open the 10-day public review period. In proper accordance with California Election Code, allow for all members of the public, including candidates and media, to obtain copies of all candidate statements by Lancaster City Council candidates; and
- Explain how Ervin’s candidate statement was copied, scanned, and uploaded to an online social media forum when City Attorney Allison Burns stated to Ervin on January 21st that there were no copies of his candidate statement produced. The online statement [has] clearly been folded up, while the one Ervin submitted on January 10th was never folded or creased.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The AV Times.
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Editor’s Note: The AV Times reached out to City Manager Mark Bozigian for a response to this story. As of 6 p.m. Monday, the city of Lancaster had not responded. We will post the city’s response when and if it becomes available.