The Monterey County District Attorney’s office received a public integrity inquiry regarding whether there was a violation of law where official absentee ballots had election campaign materials stapled to the outside envelopes when delivered to some Carmel-by-the-Sea residents.
Following an investigation by the District Attorney’s Office, it was determined that Peninsula Messenger Service contracts with the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea to provide home mail delivery to a certain number of the residents. Mayoral Candidate Steve Dallas provided election campaign materials to a Peninsula Messenger Service delivery person and requested the materials be included with the local mail delivery. The delivery person on his own initiative, decided to staple the campaign materials to the ballots as a courtesy however stopped after completing only a few due to the tedious nature of the task. The delivery person stated that he stapled approximately six absentee ballots which were delivered with the campaign materials attached to them. Only two were recovered.
The recipients of the two stapled envelopes contacted the Monterey County Registrar of Voters who immediately recovered the stapled envelopes and replaced them with fresh ballots. An examination of the recovered ballots revealed there was no defacement in any way.
A review of the Election Code and the California Penal Code revealed that there is no law that covers the facts stated above, i.e., stapling campaign material to the ballot envelope. This was confirmed in interviews of the Monterey County Registrar of Voters and the Postal Inspector’s Office which revealed that they were not aware of any law that covers this sets of facts.
The District Attorney’s Office has concluded that the integrity of the election process has not been compromised.
On Monday, March 21, 2016, the Monterey County Elections Office notified the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea that the printing and mail services vendor, K&H Printers, with which they contract, had not included the Voter Guides for the April 12, 2016, Municipal Election with the absentee ballots mailed Monday, March 14, 2016.
In immediate response to the discovery of this error, the president of K&H Printers, Darren Loken, and Senior Vice President Dave Haines traveled from Everett, WA, to mail the Voter Guides at the San Jose Post Office late Monday evening, March 21, 2016. Loken and Haines met with Monterey County Registrar of Voters Claudio Valenzuela and Carmel-by-the-Sea City Clerk Ashlee Wright to apologize for the oversight. K&H Printers will be investigating how this occurred. The Monterey County Elections Office has contracted with K&H Printers since 2006 and said that this is the first such error of this kind.
The Voter Guides for voters who have received their absentee ballots are expected to be delivered by March 23, 2016.
Voter Guides for the April 12 Municipal Election were first made available on the Monterey County Elections website on Wednesday, March 2, 2016, and linked on the main page of the City’s website on Monday, March 14, 2016.
Per the Elections Code the last day for Voter Guides to be mailed is April 2, 2016.
K&H Printers absorbed any additional costs involved.