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Registrar Asks D.A. to Probe Election Charges

Times Staff Writer

Riverside County’s registrar of voters asked the district attorney’s office Friday to review accusations of voting-tallying improprieties in the March 2 election.

Supporters of a candidate for the Board of Supervisors who is seeking a recount have alleged that the tabulation was tampered with. They accuse employees of the company that supplies the county’s voting equipment.

“I believe the charges are groundless, based on misrepresentation, inaccuracies and politically motivated innuendo,” Registrar Mischelle Townsend wrote in a letter to Dist. Atty. Grover Trask. “Because of their agendas, however, the accusers are unlikely to accept the truth unless it is generated as part of an independent review.”

A spokeswoman for Trask said the matter probably will be handled by the special prosecution unit, but that the office needs to review the request before commenting.

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Two community activists said they saw employees of Sequoia Voting Systems access the vote-counting machines, using a county employee’s password, and remove a memory card. The accusers, Art Cassel and Brian Floyd, are supporters of Linda Soubirous.

Soubirous, who was backed in her candidacy by the Riverside Sheriff’s Assn., lost the chance for a runoff election against incumbent Supervisor Bob Buster by less than one-tenth of a percentage point. She filed paperwork Friday officially seeking a recount.

Another supporter of Soubirous has asked the Board of Supervisors to place Townsend on paid administrative leave.

“This is all a scheme cooked up to impugn our registrar, Mischelle Townsend, with complaints unrelated to the matter and then to use that to taint the election process itself and the count,” Buster said. “It’s very serious to try to undermine the public confidence here in Riverside County. ... And this is a concerted effort on the part of Soubirous and the RSA union’s campaign to try to take power here in this county.”

Townsend said Cassel’s and Floyd’s allegations are false.

“I don’t know where these accusations are coming from, but they are totally inaccurate,” she said. “It’s hard to speculate on what is motivating them, but clearly there are political agendas they’re trying to pursue at the expense of others.”


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