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Robinson Sues in Bid to Retake Seat on College Board

December 26, 1985|WILLIAM NOTTINGHAM | Times Staff Writer

COMPTON — Refusing to concede apparent defeat at the polls, former Compton Community College Trustee Carl E. Robinson has filed a lawsuit challenging both the Nov. 5 election and a Dec. 3 recount that narrowly awarded the race to opponent James E. Carter.

Robinson filed the complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court on Dec. 17, a week after Carter was sworn in as a trustee to begin a four-year term.

It appeared election night that Robinson had defeated Carter by a single vote. When absentee ballots were added and results officially certified a few weeks later, though, Carter appeared to win by three votes. A recount later upheld the margin, but it was declared that each candidate had been wrongly credited with one vote too many.

Robinson said this week that his suit challenges:

- Six absentee ballots that allegedly show no proof of having been mailed or otherwise delivered to Los Angeles County election officials. The ballots bear no postmarks and there is no indication who, if anyone, might have brought them to a precinct in person, Robinson said.

- Another ballot that was allegedly cast by a convicted felon who had lost his right to vote.

- Another person who allegedly voted twice. Robinson said the two ballots were cast "at the Mark Twain School (precinct) where Mr. Carter lives."

- Election officials declaring as invalid 584 computer-card ballots--some of which may have been cast for Robinson--because voters had not properly punched the perforated holes to clearly indicate which candidate they meant to choose. Robinson blamed county officials for using "an inferior grade" of paper that voters were unable to pierce.

Signatures Appear Different

Robinson said he also provided election officials with a list of 29 absentee voters who signed their ballots in a handwriting that looks different from their voter-registration cards.

Elections spokeswoman Marcia Ventura said many of those voters signed their registration cards "30 to 40 years ago" and their penmanship may have declined since. While Robinson acknowledges that, he said at least a few of the 29 voters signed their registration cards much more recently.

Votes Disallowed

Robinson further disputes the way election officials disallowed several of his votes durings the recount.

"If he (Robinson) thinks that the recount wasn't conducted right," Carter said this week, "I think that he is barking up the wrong tree. As far as I could see, everything was done according to the rules. I think he's a sore loser."

But considering the seesaw nature of the election so far, Robinson replied: "He (Carter) might be an illegal winner. I can't let it go by without putting it to the test. I'd be crazy to give up now."

No hearings have been scheduled in the civil case. Robinson said he hopes the matter will be decided within 90 days. In the meantime, Ventura said, the election results will stand, with Carter the winner.

Carter had failed to unseat Robinson in two previous elections. But both men have said that a factor in this year's race was Robinson's arrest last spring on a charge of soliciting a $500 political bribe from an accountant who does work for the college. Robinson has pleaded innocent, contending that the money was a legal campaign contribution. A trial date on the charge is to be set on Feb. 5.

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