Aanestad, Pruett push vote fraud initiative | TheUnion.com

Aanestad, Pruett push vote fraud initiative

Looking to end what they call voter fraud, Nevada County Republicans and political candidates Sam Aanestad and Barry Pruett backed a statewide measure Tuesday designed to prevent voting irregularities in California.

County clerk-recorder candidate Pruett and Aanestad, a state senator from Grass Valley, stood with state Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, at an Alta Sierra press conference announcing the Vote Safe Now Initiative.

Aanestad is running for the lieutenant governor nomination from the GOP in the June 8 primary election; Runner is seeking a seat on the state’s Board of Equalization; and Pruett has been named Nevada County chairman for the initiative run.

When asked where the fraud had occurred, Runner said he knew of one case in a recent Beverly Hills election where “a series of people who were dead voted.”

Runner staff member Christopher Nguyen cited several federal infractions, including some in other states.

He cited at least five other instances in California, including 743 fraudulent votes in the 1996 election for California’s 46th Congressional District. He also cited a 1994 study by the California Senate Select Committee on Voting Practices and Procedures, which found several counties reported people casting ballots under the names of other registered voters.

They did not cite any example in Nevada County.

Vote Safe Now would seek to curb voter fraud by requiring voters to produce a photo identification card at the polls.

“People must show photo ID to rent videos,” Aanestad said in a statement before the press conference. “It’s not asking too much that voters show photo ID to vote.”

The initiative also would give 15 extra days to count ballots coming from military personnel overseas, which often are lost or arrive late.

A third part of the initiative would check mail ballot voters, Runner said. Voters would include the last four digits of their Social Security number on a mail ballot, or their driver’s license number or a state identification card to prove they are the person who signed the ballot.

Voters who could not afford the identification cards or licenses could also use their voting registration number to prove who they are, Pruett said. To not allow that might constitute a poll tax on the needy, he said, which is unconstitutional.

A similar initiative in Indiana was upheld as constitutional when Pruett was in law school there in recent years.

The candidate for a Nevada County office said it was natural for him to back the Vote Safe Now initiative as a person who could one day run the county elections office.

“It’s what this position should be doing, whether it’s me or Mr. (Gregory) Diaz” who wins, Pruett said. Diaz is the appointed incumbent clerk-recorder of Nevada County.

The initiative is not a way to intimidate Spanish-speakers from voting, Runner said.

“It’s not against any group other than those who are not supposed to vote,” Runner said. He added that ethnic groups around the state have supported the voting with an ID card concept.

Runner said he will have to get about 440,000 signatures by the end of May to qualify for the November ballot. If that doesn’t happen, initiative backers hope to put it on the June 2012 ballot, he said.

To read the Vote Safe Now Initiative, visit TheUnion.com and click on this story.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4237.

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