California county says 5,000 election ballots mailed by accident
A California court on Thursday ordered a recount of 5,000 ballots that were mistakenly sent while a primary election was under way, making it the second time the county has had to do so after a judge’s order requiring a court recount of ballots in the contested Tulare County race.
The original hearing in Tulare County Superior Court was only a temporary delay to allow the county to conduct a new election in the race between Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Democrat Steve hyde, who is running for an open Senate seat against Sen. Kevin De Leon.
In a ruling released Thursday afternoon, Tulare County Superior Court Judge J.R. Kelly said Wednesday that the 5,000 voters were “unduly affected by the mailing of the notice of the primary election without the ballot envelope being returned to the voter.”
Kelly ordered the county to conduct a new election for the Tulare County race in November, and ordered a temporary halt in filing candidate petitions for the election.
The Tulare County elections office said the 5,000 voters were mistakenly sent ballot envelopes with the wrong names and addresses on them, and had not been returned to the voters.
The ballots were included in 2,000 mail-in ballot applications, along with 3,000 ballots with signed affidavits of non-residency or other challenges to them.
Allegations of voter fraud in the Tulare County elections office have taken on a new sense of urgency this week after the office said it would hold an election this fall to replace an August primary election in which it failed to count the 2,000 ballots from the wrongly sent ballot envelopes.
In the August primary, incumbent Republican Rep. Toni Atkins was declared the winner over Democrat Steve hyde, and the county also was unable to count the remaining mail-in ballots following a series of lawsuits.
The two-month battle over the elections office’s handling of the Tulare County absentee ballots has played out in both the courts and in legislatures, and culminated in the appointment of