Video obtained by GV Wire shows Fresno City Council candidate Daren Miller placed in handcuffs by county security staff on Monday (July 9).
Miller was restrained, but not arrested Monday at an election office in southeast Fresno during the recount of the Fresno City Council District 3 race.
He spent nearly 40 minutes handcuffed inside the room where counting took place.
The candidate requested a recount after finishing six votes behind second-place finisher Tate Hill. Miller paid nearly $8,000 for the recount and actually lost votes while Hill gained some. Hill retained his second-place status and will face Miguel Arias in the November runoff.
Miller Wanted Answers
The video showed Miller speaking with two election officials, Cindy Lee and Ravi Gill, around 11:55 a.m.
Specifically, Miller wanted to know how much he would be refunded if he ended his recount request early, as well as the purpose of the recount. Miller said he was frustrated about the lack of answers but held no ill will for the security staff.
“The security officers were doing their job. (Elections officials) were not giving me any answers to my questions and attempted to remove me from the room at 12 o’clock. …I refused to leave,” Miller told GV Wire at the time.
During Monday’s recount, election officials cleared the room and locked it at 4525 E. Hamilton Ave. during breaks and attempted to do so during the lunch hour. However, Miller refused to leave.
About a minute after everyone left the room, two security officers spoke with Miller as the election officials left for a side office. One minute after that, one officer placed Miller in cuffs and sat him down.
About 14 minutes after being placed in cuffs, two more security officers arrived. Lee can be seen sitting in the distance. A fifth security member arrived later.
About 12:30 p.m., Gill returned to talk with Miller for about a minute. Miller remained seated and cuffed. Around 12:35 p.m., a Fresno County deputy arrived.
The deputy spoke with Miller for a minute, then spoke with Lee for about three minutes.
At approximately 12:41 p.m., the deputy returned to Miller, who was then uncuffed and eventually left the room. Miller said the deputy convinced him to leave the room rather than be arrested.
Miller then argued with Gill on the outside, as captured by GV Wire.
“I’m not here to cause issues for you, as security officers and the sheriff’s officer who was very cordial with me. I just want answers. I paid $8,000 for this process to start and go through,” Miller said. “Not to have answers to my questions is inappropriate.”
Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth, an elected official charged with running elections, told GV Wire she gave instructions on how the day would operate at the beginning of the recount.
“I explained that at each break, we would clear everyone out of the room and lock it down. We would then open the room after break. This is done to protect the security of the ballots and the process,” Orth replied to a GV Wire email.
She said security officers handled the situation according to their procedures.
“My responsibility is to conduct the recount process without disturbances so that the process can be completed without interruption. Clearing the room and locking it during break times are standard procedures required to protect the ballots and the recount process,” Orth said.
Miller said he just wanted answers.
“If I leave during the lunch hour, and they lock the door behind me and never address me, what happens? I never get answers. I’m just a citizen, I’m a consumer. Why can’t I get my questions answered in an appropriate way?” Miller said.
As to whether he would run for public office again, Miller said that he hadn’t thought about it.
“I’m going to continue to serve my community, whether it’s an elected official or community member,” he said.
[7/13/18 Correction: a quote in this story mistakenly attributed to Tate Hill, when it was said by Miller. It has been corrected.]