Dear California Democratic Delegates and Members:

Clearly, there is a split in the California State Party, which reflects the split in the National Party since the beginning of Bernie Sanders’ campaign and even earlier.

The current issue splitting the California Party is over who won the recent Party Chair election at the State Convention in Sacramento, May 19-21.

Everyone agrees the California State Convention Chair election between “insider” Eric Bauman” and “outsider” Kimberly Ellis was extremely close.

On the Saturday evening of the election, May 20, Bauman tweeted he won.  Then a California Party tweet declared him the winner.  [Neither tweet disclosed any vote totals nor who declared Bauman the winner.]  However, “tweets” do not decide elections.

Immediately, the Ellis Campaign claimed there were irregularities in the election and the vote count.

No official election vote report was made to the Convention Delegates in session on Sunday.  Neither the Rules Committee, the Credentials Committee nor any official body of CADem made a report to the Convention of the vote totals.

During the Sunday Convention General Session, many efforts were made on the floor to get recognition for an official report of the votes, to challenge the election, to demand a recount and to otherwise resolve the close election and the challenges.

All of these efforts to have the Convention decide the election were denied by Chair Burton, who ruled them all out-of-order.  When he permitted a vote on a motion to appeal one of these rulings, the Delegates shouted in favor.  He never took the “nays,” and never took any further action.

If you all read the California Party Bylaws, you will find there are no specific provisions for challenging Officer elections or the conduct of Officer elections.  The Compliance Review Commission Article [Article, Section 2, Jurisdiction], does not govern Article III [Officers, including Officer elections] nor Article IV [Meetings (Conventions)].

The Delegates assembled in Convention, as the highest body of the California Democratic Party, had the authority and the duty to resolve the very close Chair election and the challenges.  However, Chair Burton prevented that from happening.

Given that the Convention never considered or approved the Chair election vote totals, nor did it vote to declare Eric the winner, the Party does not have an officially or legally-elected Chair.

The ongoing informal “ballot review/audit” process to resolve the election and the challenges is clearly not working to unite the Party.  It is a secret process, there are no disclosed written rules for scope of the process, there are no written rules regarding the respective obligations of the candidates and the Party in the process.  It is doomed to failure.

This is why the only immediate solution is the quick adoption of a transparent written agreement between the candidates and the Party for a transparent independent forensic audit of the Chair election [and all other challenged elections.]

The forensic audit must be conducted independently by professionals who have no ties to the campaigns or the Party.  It must be COMPLETELY transparent to the membership and involve the participation of the candidates and interested Delegates.

The forensic audit must examine ALL relevant documents to the election, which at a minimum, includes all official documents and communications concerning or reporting the election of Delegates and the appointment of Delegates, Proxy documents, Convention Registration documents, Credential documents and reports, Dues payment documents, Ballot sign-out documents, Ballots, vote tally sheets, and any documents created by the Party during the post-election “Review” or “Audit”.

If the Party fails to promptly conduct such a transparent independent forensic audit, there is no chance for this split Party to re-unite in time for the critical 2018 elections.  If no action is taken soon, litigation in the Courts, in the media and/or internal fights within Party bodies will consume the Party.

There can be no more delay in the resolution of the election and it is up to all Delegates and members to make their voices heard in demanding a transparent, independent forensic audit of the election.

Joel Block is a retired attorney and freelance writer living in Rossmoor, CA.

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