In a previous post (see: �Something Smells Fishy in San Diego�, June 10 post on ), I noted that the official returns for the Run-Off Election and Primary for the 50th Congressional District in San Diego conducted on June 6 � the Busby / Bilbray race, are very odd.

This was an election held on the same day, in the same polling places, in which voters could vote in a particular party Primary (Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, or Peace and Freedom) and vote for a candidate for the upcoming November 2006 general election for the seat, and also vote for the Special Run-Off election to fill that seat until November. I�ve been told that under California law, Voters can �Decline to State� a party preference and get a Democratic, Republican, American Independent Party, or Non-Partisan (with no Primary Candidates) ballot, but are required to register for other parties (Libertarian or Green for example) if they want to vote in one of these Primaries. Candidates for the Run-Off election had already nominated in a previous April 11th Special election.

According to the official returns ( All figures are from the San Diego Registrar of Voters website: as of from June 9, 2006 16:59:21 100% of precincts reporting) about 35% of the difference between total Primary and Run-Off votes (6,914 out of 19,739) went to Libertarian (1,665) and Independent (5,249) candidates. In the Primary the same Libertarian candidate received 536 votes (a Peace and Freedom candidate who was not in the Run-Off received 69). Total vote in the Primary was 120,886, which was 19,739 fewer votes (14% less) than the Run-Off total vote count of 140,625.

I find the following hard to understand:

a) Exceedingly Lazy Independents? As California has an �open Primary� system for the Republican and Democratic Primary, why would so many voters not bother to vote in Democratic or Republican Primary but vote for the Democrat Busby (11,600) or Republican Bilbray (1,225) in the Run-Off when all they had to do was request a Democratic or Republican ballot to vote in the Primary for the same candidates. They could continue to �Decline to State� and not be registered for either party thus maintaining their status as �Independents�. Since they were already at the polling place anyway, all that was required was to fill out another circle, or one more punch! Moreover, these folks obviously had a preference as they voted for Busby or Bilbray for the Run-Off. Why would 12,825 voters actively request to restrict themselves to one vote for their Candidate when they could vote twice for that candidate (in two separate elections) with virtually the same effort?

b) Self Destructive Minutemen? According to a June 7, 2006 article in the San Diego Union Tribune ( ) Republican candidate Bilbray said that:

�His long focus on Immigration would pay off in the race against Busby��.

The article goes on to state that the U.S. Senate Bill on immigration that includes a path to citizenship along with stronger enforcement, supported by Busby, which is also supported by John McCain:

��led to an awkward situation for Bilbray, who has said the bill would lead to �amnesty.� McCain and others dispute that characterization and McCain canceled a scheduled appearance at a Bilbray fundraiser last week, though he said he continued to support the Republican candidate.

Bilbray supports the harder-line House immigration bill, focused exclusively on enforcement, and has said he favors building a fence from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico�

How much more hard-line on immigration can you get?

See also a May 30th New York Times article on this at:

Why would any anti-immigration voter want to potentially cause this guy to lose to Busby in an exceedingly tight race of such prominent national significance in order to cast a pretty meaningless (given that Bilbray already supported their issue) protest vote for an �even more anti-immigrant� candidate like Griffith? I can understand that there might be a small number of really irrational and virulently anti-immigrant voters, but over 5,000 in one Congressional District seems extraordinarily high!

c) Closet Libertarians? A similar question, why would so many Libertarians vote in the Run-Off (2,201) and not bother to vote in the Primary (where only 536 voted) when they're already at the election site to do so? It seems to me that one would, if anything, expect the opposite - why risk being a "spoiler" (if one has any preference among the major candidates) when you can register a no-risk protest vote in the Primary and you're already there to do it? At the very least, it seems to me, these numbers of votes should be roughly equivalent, as surely a Libertarian who would risk tipping such closely fought race to one or another of the major party candidates doesn�t care which of the major candidates wins! These would therefore be the strongest Libertarians who would also want to make a statement for their party in the Primary. The �Closet Libertarian� argument that massive numbers of Libertarians might �Decline to State� in the Primary but vote Libertarian in the Run-Off doesn�t fit my own personal experience with Libertarians at all. The Libertarians that I know are not at all shy about their views and want to publicize them wherever and whenever possible. There may be some who are worried about confidentiality and thus may decline to register as a Libertarian but it seems odd that more than 75% (1,636 out of 2,201) of the Libertarians in San Diego would be these kind of �closet Libertarians�! This argument might be muted by a counter scenario of a Libertarian �Declining to State� so that they could vote in the Democratic or Republican primary rather than the Libertarian Primary for the one Libertarian candidate. But again, it hard to imagine a large number of Libertarians who would be this concerned about the Democratic or Republican primary, and then go and cast a potential �spoiler vote� for the Libertarian candidate in such a tight Run-Off election.

My views are colored by the fact that in Ohio and elsewhere one of the scams was to reorder the counting so that votes were shifted to third parties. This makes vote fraud harder to detect as total counts remain the same. In this case this might have included shifting Busby votes from the primary to the Run-Off so that the �surge� in third party vote in the Run-Off would not look too outlandish. Maybe Griffith was even in on the deal � this would certainly be rational for a �minuteman� candidate given Bilbray�s positions. Who knows? Anything is possible these days. (I�m just speculating here, I have no evidence for any of these hypotheses.)

In fact, based on numbers alone, the third party and Independent vote share in 2006 Run-Off of 5.35% is roughly equivalent to the third party vote for the 50th CD General Election in 2004 of 5.0%. The difference is that in 2004 there was no real chance of a Busby victory and no national spotlight. Cunningham won by 58.5% to Busby�s 36.5%. Moreover, a good share of the third Party vote was for a left leaning party that did not run in the 2006 Run-Off (Green 2.2%), probably because they did not want to be �spoilers� in such an important election. This begs the question of where did the over 5,000 militant - to the point of being willing to "shoot them selves in their own foot" - Griffith voters come from?

I thank blogger Michael Daniels and fellow election analyst Richard Hayes Phillips for continuing to push me to recognize the importance of the �Lazy Independents� issue. I also thank an anonymous blogger for making me rethink the case of the "closet Libertarians".

These kinds of results don�t pass the �smell test� for me. They may be accurate and there may be an explanation for them (I�m not a expert on San Diego politics), but given all the other problems of illegal procedure and inexplicably varying absentee/provisional ballot numbers (see ), I strongly urge a recount of this election!