Citizens Oversight v. Vu

Plaintiffs-appellants Citizens Oversight, Inc., a Delaware non-profit corporation, and Raymond Lutz (collectively, "Citizens") filed an action against defendants-respondents Michael Vu, the San Diego Registrar of Voters, and the County of San Diego (County) (collectively the "Registrar") seeking a declaration that Citizens could inspect and copy ballots cast by registered voters during the June 7, 2016, California Presidential Primary Election (2016 Election) and a mandate requiring the Registrar to produce those ballots for inspection and copying. The trial court ruled that the ballots were exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) because Elections Code section 153701 prohibited disclosure. It granted the Registrar's demurrer to the complaint without leave to amend and issued a judgment of dismissal. Appellants requested review, and the Court of Appeal affirmed. The Court found that the Registrar was authorized to destroy or recycle ballots 22 months after each federal election; the Court exercised its discretion to resolve the issue this case presented even though the ballots from the 2016 Election no longer existed. The Court concluded that the California Legislature exempted ballots from disclosure under the CPRA by specific, clear language in Election Code sections 15370 and 17301. "We must follow the plain meaning a statute when, as here, the language is clear." View "Citizens Oversight v. Vu" on Justia Law