Skeptics aside, voter fraud is a rarity in O.C., officials say

Ballots wait to be processed at the Orange County Registrar of Voters facility in Santa Ana in 2022.
The California Secretary of State and local officials toured the Orange County Registrar of Voters offices in Santa Ana this week to reassure voters appropriate security measures are taken. Above, ballots await counting at the facility in the 2022 election.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

Good morning! It’s Wednesday, Feb. 28, and tomorrow will be leap day, when O.C. “leaplings” born on Feb. 29 will join their counterparts around the globe celebrating their once-every-four-years birthday. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you this week’s TimesOC newsletter with a look at the latest local news and events.

Election Day is next Tuesday and mail-in ballots are already being returned to registrars’ offices up and down the state. In an effort to assuage the fears of some activists who have been clamoring for Orange County to return to paper ballots only and precincts instead of vote centers, a group of officials headed up by California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber held a special tour for the media earlier this week.

Paul Anderson of City News Service reported on the event, which included a tour of the Orange County Registrar of Voters offices in Santa Ana. Among the other dignitaries who spoke to reporters were county Supervisor Katrina Foley, Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer and O.C. Registrar of Voters Bob Page. They all made it clear they believe the existing procedures make for a secure election and accurate voting counts.


Will their words be enough to convince the people who say they are worried about voter fraud?

“There will always be those who won’t believe, but we also know that the results are verified over and over,” Weber said, adding that anyone who “has an issue or concern is welcome to” report it to their local registrar of the secretary of state’s office.

She told reporters that Orange County’s system is much like all of the others throughout the state. “The system itself is pretty consistent,” she said.

Foley, addressing the push by some for the county to return to previous methods, said, “We don’t want to go back to those days. People voting in someone’s garage may be nostalgic, but it’s not as secure.”

Spitzer said he believes the current system is “working very, very well,” according to Anderson’s report. Most of the election fraud allegations the district attorney’s office fields “involve something amiss in signature gathering and candidates not living in the districts in which they seek to be elected,” Anderson writes, with the most common complaint being about someone electioneering too close to a polling place.

“I can’t speak for other counties, but I can say that in Orange County we do not have rampant voter fraud,” Anderson quoted Spitzer as saying.

Weber said, “I always find it interesting that those who don’t believe in the system, but they believe they got elected. ... It was working for you, but for everyone else it was fraud or deception.”

On Election Day, March 5, the vote centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thirty-seven vote centers opened in Orange County on Saturday and another 146 will open this Saturday. A full list of the county’s voting centers can be found here.


 Rivian R1T all-electric truck in Times Square on listing day, on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021 in New York.
Irvine-based Rivian Automotive Inc. last week announced it would have to reduce its workforce and lower production expectations. Above, Rivian R1T all-electric truck in Times Square on listing day, on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021 in New York.
(Ann-Sophie Fjello-Jensen/ AP Images for Rivian Automotive, LLC)

Irvine-based Rivian Automotive Inc., which has been a darling of investors, announced last week a 10% cut to its workforce and lower production expectations. “The news sent its stock plummeting,” the L.A. Times reported. “The 25% drop in stock price that it notched Thursday was its worst day in its history.” Rivian is known for its sporty electric trucks (starting price almost $70,000) and SUVs ($75,000). It counts Amazon as an investor, and, at the end of its first day of public trading in 2021 it was valued at nearly $88 billion. But mass-market buyers are wary of buying electric vehicles in general, because there are not enough reliable charging stations available, so the industry is experiencing a bump in the road. Still, Rivian plans to unveil its more affordable R2 vehicle in Laguna Beach next week.

Costa Mesa City Councilman Don Harper announced during the panel’s meeting last week that he plans to resign from his office. Harper said the decision was prompted by family health issues that have caused him to miss a few meetings. Noting he is currently the only conservative voice on the council, Harper said he hopes that someone who shares his point of view will replace him. “I’ve attempted to speak for those people in our community who don’t want to be a cannabis city, for those people who don’t want so many bike lanes, for those who don’t want high-density housing,” he said. Once Harper’s final day of service has been determined, the City Council will have 60 days to appoint a replacement, either directly through an application process or to call a special election, according to the Daily Pilot story on Harper’s announcement.

A member of the Huntington Beach City Council tried to get some clarity on the conservative majority’s recently enacted children’s book restrictions last week, to no avail. Natalie Moser brought an agenda item seeking transparency and detailed reporting on the implementation of Resolution 2023-41, passed last October, which has left librarians and others in the community up in arms, but the council voted 3-3 not to discuss it. (Councilman Casey McKeon was absent. Moser, Dan Kalmick and Rhonda Bolton supported the item, with Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark, Mayor Pro Tem Pat Burns and Tony Strickland voting no.) They did hear, however, five hours of sometimes heated public comment, according to the Daily Pilot coverage of the meeting by my colleague Matt Szabo.


Phenix Salon Suites in Brea.
Elias Renteria Segoviano, 63, is facing new charges after his probation officer noticed he had again attempted to rent out a space at the Phenix Salon Suites on Birch Street in Brea, where he’d previously illegally run a Botox operation.
(Google Maps)

An Orange County resident recently released from prison returned to the scene of his crimes. Elias Renteria Segoviano, 63, who last year admitted to “performing invasive procedures and injecting victims with potentially counterfeit Botox, fillers, anesthetics, and other medical drugs,” according to the D.A.’s office, and was sentenced to prison, waited only two weeks after being released to return before attempting to repeat his criminal activity. The L.A. Times reports Segoviano again tried to open an illegal Botox practice at Phenix Salon Suites in Brea, where he had previously operated a business called Botox in Anaheim. This attempt didn’t succeed because his probation officer caught wind of his plans. The district attorney’s office asks anyone who might have been treated by Segoviano to contact investigator Jesse Alfonzo at (714) 834-6538.

A 3-year-old girl underwent multiple surgeries after being shot while riding in her parents’ car in Santa Ana on Sunday. According to the L.A. Times report, police investigators said they believe it was a gang-related shooting and that the intended target was the girl’s father, who was sitting in the front passenger’s seat as the car was near the intersection of 15th and Spurgeon streets. One of the shots, police stated, pierced the trunk of their car, went through the passenger compartment and hit the youngster. Anyone with information is asked to contact Santa Ana Police Department homicide detectives at (714) 245-8390.

A homemade firework exploded last week at the Village at Tustin Legacy shopping center. Authorities said Tustin police officers detained one person who was seen walking away from the explosion . A bank and some nearby restaurants were temporarily evacuated, but no injuries were reported, according to the L.A. Times story on the incident.

The 69-year-old victim of a random assault Feb. 19 in Newport Beach is home from Hoag hospital. Todd Miller, a retired periodontist, was out on a training hike when he was attacked from behind by a man while he was on a trail near Crystal Cove. The Daily Pilot interviewed Miller, who said he hopes to meet the people who were the first to help him at the scene that day. “It doesn’t sound like they witnessed the assault directly, but I think they were there about a minute or so after it happened because they saw the guy running,” Miller said. The suspect arrested in the incident, identified as Steven Soliz, 31, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A 29-year-old woman was arrested last week after allegedly ramming a stolen car into two law enforcement vehicles. The event unfolded in Costa Mesa during an episode that also led to a separate collision involving a police sergeant, according to this Daily Pilot report. Destiny Hope Sherer, of Huntington Beach, was detained and booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and vehicle theft, after being located in the same Target shopping complex on Harbor Boulevard where she’d abandoned the stolen car.


Jake Knapp poses with his trophy in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Sunday.
Jake Knapp, a native of Costa Mesa, poses with his trophy during the award ceremony after winning the Mexico Open golf tournament in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Sunday.
(Fernando Llano / Associated Press)

PGA rookie Jake Knapp, a native of Costa Mesa, won the Mexico Open in Puerto Vallarta on Sunday. Knapp had what the Associated Press called a remarkable short game Sunday, closing with an even-par 71 to win the Mexico Open at Vidanta and earn a trip to the Masters. The L.A. Times reported Knapp, a UCLA standout who first made a name for himself playing for Estancia High, took home $1.458 million. Knapp has a tattoo on his arm representing his late grandfather’s initials, an homage to Gordon Bowley, who was known in this region as a dedicated advocate for youth sports. Bowley passed away last year at 85.

Nearly four decades of coaching high school basketball is enough, Rich Boyce decides. Boyce, 56, announced this week he would be stepping down from his longtime role as the Edison High mentor, but he’ll keep his role as the school’s athletic director. He’s been coaching at Edison for 24 years, having accepted that job after 13 years of coaching at Estancia High. “It’s been 39 years of missing Christmases and Thanksgivings and all of that kind of stuff, so it’s time,” he told the Daily Pilot.

Two O.C. high school teams captured their first CIF championships ever, while a third won its first outright title, having shared it 33 years ago:

— The Estancia High School girls’ soccer team won the CIF Southern Section Division 5 title match for its first championship Saturday when they beat No. 2 Studio City Campbell Hall 2-0 at El Modena High.

— In boys’ soccer action, Newport Harbor edged Foothill 4-3 on Saturday to win the CIF Southern Section Division 2 championship at Fred Kelly Stadium in Orange. In its previous CIF finals appearance, Newport Harbor shared the Division 1-A crown with Corona Centennial after a scoreless draw in 1991.

Marina High’s boys’ basketball team beat third-seeded Long Beach Poly, 53-49, in the CIF Southern Section Division 2A final on Saturday at Edison High to bring home its first championship.


Ostiones a la Bahia at Ostioneria Bahia Mexican & Seafood in Orange.
Ostiones a la Bahia at Ostioneria Bahia Mexican & Seafood in Orange.
(Edwin Goei)

Looking for some great O.C. seafood options during this Lenten season? Food writer Edwin Goei, a contributor to TimesOC, has you covered with his latest offering, “Holy mackerel! 7 of the best seafood restaurants in Orange County to observe no-meat Fridays during Lent.” From Anaheim to Yorba Linda, with stops in other local cities, Goei did the hard work of sampling multiple dishes on your behalf and came up with some winning recommendations.


Layla Mohammadi as Leila, Niousha Noor as Shirin in "The Persian Version."
(Yiget Eken/Sony Pictures Classics)

The inaugural Anthem Persian Film Festival is this weekend. Two days, two theaters and 12 films. Folino Theater on the Chapman University campus hosts the opening night of the festival, March 2, while the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana is the venue for the second night, March 3. “The Persian Version,” which won three awards at Sundance, including Grand Jury Prize, Waldo Scott Screenwriting and Audience Choice, will be among the films screened. Film lovers’ all-festival film passes are $50 ($35 for students). Opening night general admission is $35, while general admission on Sunday is $25. To see the full lineup and purchase tickets, go here.

Catch “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Rose Center Theater, also this weekend. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical, choreographed by Jennifer Matthews and Diane Makas, began its run at Westminster’s Rose Center Theater earlier this month and closes this Sunday. Performances are planned for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday at 2 p.m. The theater is located at 14140 All American Way. Tickets and more information can be found here.

Here’s a family outing suggestion: Bowers Museum will hold a Celtic Festival on Sunday. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the museum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana. Art activities and complimentary treats will be offered. At noon there will be a bagpipes performance by Chrisy Orcholski, at 12:30 p.m. the Kay Hamilton School of Highland Dance will present a performance, and Cillian’s Bridge Irish Band takes the stage at 1 p.m., followed by a performance by O’Connor Kennedy Academy of Irish Dance. Admission is free.


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