Fresno Elections Office Omitted Candidate Statements Due to ‘Oversight’, Chief Says
Fresno County Clerk James Kus is apologizing for an “oversight” that prevented five federal and state candidates from getting their message out to voters.
The statements were supposed to be in the voting guide for the June primary but were omitted in error.
“The Department has conducted a complete review of the candidate statement publication process and we have implemented corrective action to prevent this oversight from occurring in future elections,” Kus said in a statement.
Jim Costa, Matt Stoll, Shannon Grove, Anna Caballero and Devon Mathis turned their candidate statements on time, but they were not printed in the guide.
One candidate wonders how this affected his standing in the June primary.
“It’s without a doubt it affected it,” Matt Stoll said.
Stoll: Totally Unacceptable
Stoll, R-Visalia, ran in the June primary against Democratic incumbent Jim Costa, of Fresno, and two others in Congressional District 21. Stoll paid $6,000 to get his statement in the guide to tell voters about himself.
“I’m not going to speculate there (that the omission cost him the election), but I think it certainly would have made an articulated difference, a pronounced difference to show that somebody was in there that was actually pushing for things that I believe are near and dear to what Valley voters want,” Stoll said.
Costa advanced to the general election along with Kingsburg Republican Michael Maher. Stoll, a former Navy combat aviator and current pilot for a commercial airline, finished in third and will not be on the November ballot.
The clerk’s office sent a letter explaining the omission to Stoll’s campaign post office box on Aug. 6. However, Stoll did not find out until the office called him last week. He shut down his P.O. Box after the primary.
The district also covers Tulare County. While Stoll checked his statement in the ballot guide there, he did not verify it was printed in the Fresno County guide.
“Clearly it was not cross-checked. And in the military, this would not be tolerated. In the airline profession, which I’ve been affiliated, this would not be tolerated. And, you know, this is totally unacceptable,” Stoll said.
Kus Explains Error
Kus explained how the mistake happened.
The statements are supposed to be handled by the County Voter Information Guide team within the clerk’s office. He said those team members “did not capture” the materials.
“The best we have been able to determine was that this was a human error associated with a single individual in the CVIG team. This error was not identified sooner due to a reliance on proofing materials also collected by the same individual, obscuring the error during the several proofing passes made on the candidate statements,” Kus told GV Wire in an email.
Kus says all five candidates whose statements were omitted have been refunded, and processes are in place to prevent the error from happening again.
The statements will now be handled by a separate unit, the voter services team, “avoiding the distribution and receipt error that facilitated the loss of the candidate statements within the June 2022 Election printing process. This will also reduce time to process between receipt, formatting, and transfer to the printing vendor,” Kus said.
The finance team will also review statements to match them against records indicating which candidates paid fees.
Kus says his office discovered the error when conducting an audit in late July. He reported the error during a presentation to the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 9.
Only One Candidate Failed to Advance
The other four candidates whose statements were omitted advanced to the November general election, each finishing first in the June primary in their respective districts.