Vernon has yet to certify a winner in its June 5 city council election, choosing instead to hold its own public hearing on the results.
On July 17, the council approved procedures for issuing subpoenas to witnesses to appear before a public hearing panel, as well as an ordinance to establish conflict of interest rules for panel members. The city picked Debra Wong Yang, a former judge and attorney at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, to be the panel’s neutral hearing officer.
These actions were taken as part of an effort by the city council to set its own election certification rules. On June 27, they voted 3-0 to prohibit the city from certifying a winner if the results are contested or challenge within ten days of the ballot count.
Vernon’s decision to set its own election certification rules was made in response to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office’s refusal to accept allegations of voter fraud made by the Vernon Chamber of Commerce. The county counted the challenged ballots, declaring candidate Reno Bellamy ahead of opponent Luz Martinez with a 34-30 vote.
In May, the chamber’s attorney submitted eleven names of voters who submitted ballots but whom they believe to reside outside of Vernon. In the previous April election, those same ballots were challenged and accepted in an election run by the city. In June, the election was run by the county, which declined to hold those ballots.
In the April election, losing candidate Daniel Newmire also contested the final results, but the city claimed he missed the deadline for submitting his challenge.