Congressional District 11 GOP nominee David Harmer will seek a court order in Superior Court in Martinez this afternoon to stop the vote-by-mail signature verification process in Contra Costa County.
Harmer, who ran against incumbent Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney on Tuesday, says his team should be allowed to challenge the signatures on vote-by-mail ballots.
Contra Costa Election Clerk Steve Weir disagrees. He says the county’s written procedures and guidelines clearly state that observers may challenge the process of counting ballots but not individual signatures.
Challenges to a specific voter’s right to cast a ballot must be made through a pollworker at the polls or through a challenge of a voter who has requested a vote-by-mail ballot, Weir said. This allows the voter to respond to a challenge of his or her right to cast a ballot.
“While Harmer has claimed irregularities, not one instance has been presented to us,” Weir said.
Harmer spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin disagreed and said the other three counties in District 11 allow challenges of signatures on submitted vote-by-mail ballots.
“We just want to ensure that the signature review process is done openly, fairly and transparently,” she said. “Neither side is being afforded the opportunity to review and observe the signature review process.”
The backdrop of this legal dispute is the outcome of the 11th District election.
McNerney leads by 568 votes, an incredibly tight 0.3 percentage point advantage. The votes were breaking the Democrat’s way on Election Day, which means McNerney has little incentive to challenge the counting of ballots that arrived in election offices on Monday and Tuesday.
Harmer, on the other hand, could benefit if signatures on late arriving ballots are deemed invalid and thrown out, ensuring that potential votes for his opponent never show up on the tally.