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Buster Wins Again; Inquiries Continue

Times Staff Writer

A recount of the March 2 election confirmed earlier results: incumbent Supervisor Bob Buster won the race to represent Riverside County’s 1st District.

Buster received 24,772 votes, or 50.07% of the 49,472 ballots cast, narrowly avoiding a runoff against public-safety union candidate Linda Soubirous, who received 17,069 votes. Former Lake Elsinore Councilman Kevin Pape received 7,631 votes.

Had Buster received 35 fewer votes, he and Soubirous would have faced off in the November election.

Vote totals shifted slightly from the March 2 count, adding 125 votes to Buster’s previous tally, 98 votes to Soubirous’ total, and 53 votes to Pape’s count. The recount results were posted Wednesday on the county’s website.

The recount was requested by Soubirous, whose supporters have been criticizing the county’s registrar of voters and the county’s electronic-voting equipment.

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At the request of Registrar Mischelle Townsend, the county district attorney’s office and the state attorney general’s office are investigating two Soubirous supporters’ allegations of improper vote tallying.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission also is investigating a complaint by one of Soubirous’ supporters alleging that Townsend failed to file financial disclosure forms and improperly accepted travel from Sequoia Voting Systems, the supplier of the county’s touch-screen voting machines.

Buster, who has been on the county’s Board of Supervisors for 12 years and previously served on the Riverside City Council for seven years, said this was the ugliest election he has seen in Riverside County.

“Ms. Soubirous owes Mischelle Townsend, the election department, the county of Riverside and particularly the voters in this county an apology for this kind of really terrible behavior,” he said. “I’ve never seen such poor losers.”

Greg Luke, Soubirous’ attorney, called the recount a “dog-and-pony show.”

He is still seeking additional information from Townsend, including precinct rosters, logs used by poll workers, access to the actual voting machines, chain-of-custody information for the ballots and other material.

“Without all this information that allows us to assess what it is you’ve been showing us, we can’t help but object to these votes,” he said.

Luke said he still hopes to receive this information and was unsure about his client’s next step.

“We’re not preparing a lawsuit right now,” he said.

Attempts to reach Townsend were unsuccessful.


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