Arcadia PD/City Clerk investigating attempts to collect election ballots in Arcadia’s mail-in election

Sho Tay said his campaign manager suggested they offer to help people in order to get more voters to send in their ballots- Photo by Terry Miller

Sho Tay said his campaign suggested they offer to help people with stamps and hand deliver in order to get more voters to send in their ballots- Photo by Terry Miller

Arcadia PD/City Clerk investigating attempts to collect election ballots in Arcadia’s mail-in election By Terry Miller Politics is a disagreeable business as they say, in fact Mark Twain perhaps said it best “The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.” This latest food for thought involves an alleged attempt to collect mail-in ballots for the upcoming April 8 election in Arcadia by a young man identified only as an Asian teenager approximately 16 years of age who was knocking on doors in the 1700 block of Alta Oaks and asking residents if he could collect their election ballots and mail them for them. Arcadia Weekly spoke with candidate for council, Sho Tay on Wednesday regarding this matter to see what his thoughts were. ShoTay told this newspaper that 2 years ago voter turnout was so low that he wanted to encourage people to vote in this election for a better balance. “After some suggestion from my campaign staff , I enlisted the help of students from the Democratic Club at Arcadia High School to offer residents of Arcadia stamps for the mail in postcard. It was all quite innocent and done with the best of intentions.” “We (the campaign staff) did a survey and found out that many people didn’t even know how many (stamps) to put on a ballot postcard, so we offered to help.” He asserted, “…it was certainly not an attempt to sway the voter in either direction.” The candidate’s intentions, while honorable in objective, caught the attention of local residents and law enforcement when one of the students offered to mail the ballots for the resident. “It’s about people (the election) not the party…I’m a registered Republican,” Sho Tay said in a telephone interview. “We were simply trying to encourage those who might not send in their ballots, to do just that!” We asked Sho Tay if anyone took the students up on the offer of stamps or the offer to mail the ballots for them. His answer was in the affirmative “Yes, some Arcadians did take stamps and we took (3) ballots to the post office.” Sho Tay has since stopped the practice and will not offer to mail in ballots for residents, nor offer stamps. Arcadia Weekly contacted Chief deputy city clerk/records manager Lisa Mussenden in Arcadia who told us that “ They are looking into the matter…and as it is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further.” Los Angeles County Clerk-Registrar media spokesperson Regina Ip sent us the following laws regarding the way a ballot is handled: 18576.  Any person who willfully (a) interferes with the prompt delivery of a completed vote by mail ballot application, (b) retains a completed vote by mail ballot application, without the voter’s authorization, for more than three days excluding weekends and state holidays, or by the deadline for return of vote by mail ballot applications, whichever is earlier, or (c) denies an applicant the right to return his or her own completed vote by mail ballot application to the local elections official having jurisdiction over the election, is guilty of a misdemeanor.   18568.  Every person is punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for 16 months or two or three years, or by both that fine and imprisonment, who: (a) Aids in changing or destroying any poll list or official ballot. (b) Aids in wrongfully placing any ballots in the ballot container or in taking any therefrom. (c) Adds or attempts to add any ballots to those legally polled at any election by fraudulently putting them into the ballot container, either before or after the ballots therein have been counted. (d) Adds to or mixes with, or attempts to add to or mix with, the ballots polled, any other ballots, while they are being counted or canvassed or at any other time, with intent to change the result of the election, or allows another to do so, when in his or her power to prevent it. (e) Carries away or destroys, attempts to carry away or destroy, or knowingly allows another to carry away or destroy, any poll list, ballot container, or ballots lawfully polled or who willfully detains, mutilates, or destroys any election returns. (f) Removes any unvoted ballots from the polling place before the completion of the ballot count. Arcadia Police Lieutenant Colleen Flores said the dept. issued an automatic alert to area residents advising residents that in no case will City representatives come to your home and collect election ballots. Lt. Flores advises if someone does come to your home offering to collect your mail-in election ballot “do not give it to them” and contact the PD. It is unlikely any criminal or civil charges will be filed.

March 19, 2014

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ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Arcadia PD/City Clerk investigating attempts to collect election ballots in Arcadia’s mail-in election”

  1. Sho Tay says:

    This is accurate but also misleading and damaging to young adults and students who were trying to follow their MTV generation predecessors and “Rock the Vote” to get more people to vote, regardless of who they vote for. In fact, many of the students who were going door-to-door offering free stamps to mail the election ballot are part of a student Democrat club. I am Republican. In less than a handful of cases, residents offered to have the students take their sealed envelopes to put in the nearest mailbox for them.
    Joining the students going door-to-door offering stamps were several White women in different neighborhoods. One of those women was also asked to deliver a sealed envelope to a post office.
    Interestingly, the White women received no concerns or complaints. Sadly, a few complaints were made about the young Chinese-American students, with at least one person calling the police, prompting a text alert and robo-call from police and now the story in Arcadia Weekly saying I am being investigated by police.
    I have read the law’s applying to the voting process and am confident none of us did anything illegal.
    As a former police officer I would never promote any illegal activity and I am saddened that our police resources were called in on something that we should actually applaud: volunteerism.
    One of the reasons I am running for City Council is to encourage all Arcadians to get involved in our community, to build bridges between all elements of our city to make a stronger, more vibrant, more unified community.
    In recent elections voter turnout has been low, as low as 26% in our last election. So when my campaign staff suggested a grassroots “get out the vote” effort, I was all for it. After all, democracy only works if we all get involved.
    Last weekend, in addition to the White women mentioned above, several students, many of them some of our amazingly mature and responsible students from Arcadia High School, volunteered their time to walk around neighborhoods in the foothills to drum up the vote. They did it in temperatures as high as 93 degrees for hours.
    These volunteers offered those who would speak with them free stamps or offered to take the ballots to the Post Office. It did not matter who the residents voted for – the volunteers had no way of knowing. It did not matter what party the homeowner belonged to. It did not matter if the resident loved me or hated me. Our offer was the same, if you need help voting we are here to help.
    Only three people out of hundreds took them up on the offer to carry the envelope to the post office. But I am grateful that these volunteers love Arcadia so much and love America so much that they wanted to participate somehow in this election.
    Sadly, one or two residents viewed this well-intentioned offer with concern and suspicion. The Arcadia Police Department was called to investigate.
    I understand curiosity about such a magnamimous offer, but I did not properly anticipate the strong negative perception by a small number of people, and for that I take responsibility. I suppose our Society has unfortunately come to the point where it has become normal and even somewhat understandable for some people to have this kind of response.
    Our only goal was to encourage more votes because I believed and I still believe the more people that get involved in Arcadia, the better. Win, lose, or draw. Perhaps I should have thought about how someone might interpret this offer if they viewed me or my volunteers with suspicion based on race, party, or some other factor. But that is not how my mind is wired. I only see the human race. I only see my fellow Americans and Arcadians. After all, we are all God’s children.
    I thank my volunteers for their hard work and apologize if their credibility was in any way besmirched or their enthusaism for the Democratic process was dampened. I thank the Arcadia Police Department and the City staff for doing their job and investigating this matter and apologize that they had to devote any time or resoruces to this. We are proud Arcadians. We are proud Americans. And we will continue to be active and encourage every Arcadian to get involved.

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