Judge’s decision to cancel Palmdale election creates confusion

Rules city cannot vote at-large

OW Staff Writer | 10/4/2013, midnight
The City of Palmdale plans to immediately file an appeal and seek an emergency ruling in the wake of a ...

The Mooney ruling did not order a halt to the races for Palmdale School District, Westside School District, Antelope Valley Union High School District, Antelope Valley Community College District or Palmdale Water District.

“Those elections, to the best of our knowledge, will continue as planned,” Mlynar said. “The city is appealing the decision regarding the Palmdale City Council election.”

Questions about candidate debates have also arisen due to the decision.

“I’ve gotten emails from groups who have scheduled candidate debates for all the various offices, and they’re wondering if they should be going forward with them,” added Mlynar.

Never before in the state of California has an election been enjoined.

“We are certainly traveling on uncharted waters,” Mlynar said. “Absentee ballots have been sent out already, which means the election has already begun. Under this ruling, it would prevent tabulation and certifying the vote outcome of the Palmdale City Council election, but not the other elections which are all on the same ballot. This has to be very confusing for the voters.”

“We continue to encourage our residents who have received absentee ballots to exercise their right to vote and fill out and mail in their ballots,” said Ditzhazy. “The City of Palmdale stands firm in our efforts to protect the constitutional rights of its residents to have their voice heard through the voting process.”

Not only is this ruling without precedent, but it is contrary to the Elections Code provisions set forth by the Legislature. While the code does provide the exclusive means for a judge to interfere with an election, it also requires that the ruling would not “substantially” interfere with the conduct of the election. The California Voting Rights Act, which has never been ruled on before and the complex provisions which have never been interpreted, has resulted in the elimination of the election for more than 153,000 Palmdale residents, said the city attorney.

“This ruling is not only highly unusual, it strikes at the heart of our republic, directly thwarting the will of the people,” Ditzhazy said.

“Equally as perplexing is the fact that by halting the election, it will prevent what the voting rights lawsuit intended to do,” stated Ditzhazy. “Four candidates—Tom Lackey, Fred Thompson, Sir Daniel Duplechan, and Richard Loa—are vying for two seats. Three of the four candidates are minorities. That means at least one and possibly two minority candidates would be elected to the Palmdale City Council in November if the election were held.”

Under the ruling, the current council, which was elected at large, will remain seated until the future election is held.

City News Service contributed to this story.