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State Justices Overturn 5 Fresno County Elections for Absentee Ballot Abuses

June 02, 1993|Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — The state Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned five 1991 school board elections in Fresno County because of illegal handling of absentee ballots by an African-American political group whose candidates won.

The court said a campaign by the Black American Political Assn. of California violated state laws on applications for absentee voting and delivery of absentee ballots to the registrar. Four BAPAC members were among the 12 winners in the election.

BAPAC members delivered the ballots to the voters, encouraged them to vote in the members' presence, then took the ballots back to the office where they were mailed to the registrar, the court said.

About 930 illegal votes were involved, enough to possibly change the outcome of the school board races for the Washington Union High School District and four elementary schools within its area.

State law allows an election to be overturned whenever it appears that a decisive number of illegal votes went to the winner, a standard that does not require absolute proof, the opinion by Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas said. But dissenting Justice Joyce Kennard said the challengers offered no proof that the illegal ballots favored the winners.

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