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Ex-Residents Turned Away in Effort to Vote on Guns : Election: City clerk notes the need to re-register at new addresses. Losers in contest for seat in Council District 3 call for recount.

March 16, 1995|JAMES BENNING | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Precinct workers trying to prevent voter fraud turned away about 150 Redondo Beach citizens who wanted to weigh in on the city's controversial gun measure last week.

The would-be voters had moved from their residences in the city and failed to re-register at their new addresses, said City Clerk John L. Oliver. Election laws require voters who move more than 28 days before an election to register at the new address.

Oliver suspected that many would try to vote improperly after the post office was unable to deliver sample ballots to about 3,900 registered voters. Many of those turned away probably did not know they were attempting to cast a ballot illegally, he said.

Those denied ballots were given forms so they could register before the next election, he said.

In addition to the gun measure, two council seats, the city treasurer's post and two school board seats were up for grabs in the March 7 election. The losing candidates in the race for a council seat in District 3 have called for a recount.

But it was Proposition E, an advisory measure that called on state legislators to allow nearly any citizen to carry a gun, that drew interest from onlookers throughout California.

Although the controversial measure failed, interest in the issue was so strong that Oliver fielded calls from voters in other cities who wanted a say in the matter.

"They actually called up and said they wanted to vote on 'that E thing,' " Oliver recalled. "I said, 'You live in Torrance; you can't vote on the E thing.' "

The gun measure, which had no power to change state law, called on state legislators to ease restrictions on concealed weapons permits. The permits are issued by a community's chief law enforcement officer, and they are difficult to obtain in most jurisdictions.

The measure failed, with 54% of the voters opposing it at the polls. If it had passed, the proposition would have recommended that anyone who can pass a firearms safety course and is not deemed a threat to public safety be eligible to obtain a permit.

In other election matters, three candidates for the council seat in District 3 have asked for a recount after they lost by a large margin to engineer Mike Gin.

Most onlookers had expected a runoff in the race, in which incumbent Stevan Colin was barred from seeking reelection because of term limits. Gin, 32, who outspent his opponents and hired a political consultant to manage his campaign, garnered 62.4% of the vote.

Candidates Steve Bopp, William N. Gaillard and Frank Bostrom dispatched a letter to Oliver calling for a recount. Bostrom, a political activist who was defeated in a bid for the mayor's seat six years ago but forced a runoff in that race, said he was shocked by the large number of votes Gin received.

"When you've participated in every election for 15, 16 years and one comes along that's as lopsided as this, you have to ask yourself what's going on?" said Bostrom, who placed second in the race and received 21.6% of the votes cast.

Gin attributed his victory to a strong campaign. He visited nearly every home in the district, he said, and focused on the theme of cutting costs and boosting city revenues.

Oliver said Tuesday that he sent a letter to candidates informing them the city could conduct a recount, but the candidates would have to pay the $1,100 cost.

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