Prosecutor declines to file charges against Perez campaign workers

The Bakersfield CalifornianNovember 2, 2013 

The Kern County District Attorney's office has ruled there is "insufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing" by Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez's campaign organization in this summer's 16th Senate District race.

Allegations that Perez's campaign improperly collected and returned vote-by-mail ballots on behalf of voters emerged just after Perez lost her head-to-head race against Hanford Republican Andy Vidak in July.

A press release from District Attorney Lisa Green says her office's investigation did "reveal noncompliance with the delivery requirements of vote-by-mail ballots by campaign canvassers."

In a Friday interview, Green said that Perez campaign workers definitely went out and collected vote-by-mail ballots and turned them in for voters. That is not allowed, Green said.

Generally, vote-by-mail ballots must be returned by a direct family member or other close relation.

The rule exists, Green said, to prevent campaign workers from tampering with ballots by either altering them or disposing of votes.

The California Secretary of State's office, she said, is looking for votes being manipulated.

Green said her office did not turn up evidence of fraud, improper influence of voters, interference with the secrecy of ballots or the timely return of ballots to the Kern County elections office.

And, she said, it was unclear who actually took ballots from voters.

"We had difficulty from the people who gave ballots determining who received them," Green said.

Perez had not, early Friday afternoon, responded to a request for comment on the decision not to prosecute members of her campaign team.

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