Ryan Hagen, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 05/10/2012 11:09:14 AM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – The results of the election for city clerk will stand, a Superior Court judge ruled Thursday, rejecting a claim by 15 voters whose ballots weren’t counted because of signature mismatches.

The trial had the potential to change the outcome of the city clerk’s race, in which Georgeann “Gigi” Hanna – a former public relations official and journalist who took office March 5 – gathered six votes more than Amelia Sanchez-Lopez, who heads the county Alcohol and Drug Services Administration.

But Superior Court Judge Donna Gunnell Garza ruled that county Registrar of Voters Michael J. Scarpello acted properly when he discarded 64 ballots with signatures Scarpello and other elections officials decided didn’t match

“The parties were not denied the right to vote because the right to vote involves the right to be counted properly,” Garza said, noting that the Election Code says ballots with signatures that don’t match shall not be counted.

One vote, from a disabled man whose wife signed the ballot, should have been counted, Garza said, but that wouldn’t change the overall result.

Sandra Garcia, the lawyer representing the voters, argued Scarpello should have contacted them between the time he noticed the signature discrepancy and the Feb. 7 election date or between then and the Feb. 28 recount.

“The voters were denied – not once but twice – their opportunity to be heard,” Garcia said. “It’s not about the candidates. It’s not about the office. It’s about their fundamental right to vote.”

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