Rules to Discuss Election Recalls, Proposal to Fund Gun Buy-Back Program

San Jose Councilman Don Rocha wants to explore the idea of imposing a standard for automatic recounts in event of a very close election in San Jose.

The District 9 councilman suggested as much to the City Council last August, asking if it ever thought of adopting automatic recounts to double-check the accuracy of close-call elections. Rocha’s proposal goes before the Rules and Open Government Committee at Wednesday’s meeting, when he plans to refer the concept to the Elections Commission for a closer look.

Rocha’s hope is to get something approved before the 2014 election cycle, when his term happens to expire. Although, that might not mean anything if he decides to call it quits.

Nationally, election laws vary when it comes to automatic recounts. Some laws call for a decision within a given percentage of the vote, from 1 to 0.1 percent, Rocha’s memo says. Some get finalized based on an actual number of votes. Others only call for recounts if there’s a tie.

Locally, someone usually has to petition for a recount, says Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters spokeswoman Elma Rosas. The cost of a recount varies too much for her to even guess, she adds.

“It really depends on how many voters there are, if they want a full or partial recount, so many other variables; it’s hard to say,” Rosas says.

Rocha says he just wants to bring up the topic to get a discussion going.

“I don’t have an opinion yet as to whether we should establish such a standard, and if so what it should be, but I would appreciate hearing the Election Commission’s thoughts on the matter,” reads the report he’ll present this week.

Other items on the Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for January 30, 2013 include:

• San Jose businesses and independent contractors behind on their taxes may get an extended grace period to pay up. The city mailed a letter to every local business registered through the Franchise Tax Board but delinquent for any year since 2009. The notice informs businesses that they could save hundreds of dollars under an amnesty program that expires in March.

Councilmember Rocha wants to extend the amnesty through 2014. Some of the independent contractors who could benefit from the grace period include sports referees and umpires and off-duty police officers working security, the report says.

• Committee members each listed a set of topics to bring up at public study sessions in the coming year, including the BART extension, high-speed rail, police staffing retention, parks and library programs and public health.

• Councilman Kansen Chu is asking his colleagues to approve his donation of an extra $9,262.23 in campaign funds to the Educational Park Branch Library, the future Northside Library and a gun buy-back program.

• The Project Diversity Screening Committee, tasked to interview all commission applicants, will see five new appointments and one re-appointment Wednesday. The 13-member screening committee interviews anyone applying for a public commission and makes recommendations to each board with authority to appoint them.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. > Councilman Kansen Chu is asking his colleagues to approve . . . a gun buy-back program.

    Have any of the know-it-all smarty-pantses on the council ever asked the question: Are gun buy-back programs actually even legal?

    Guns are a legal product and it is legal to sell them, legal to buy them, and legal to own them.

    What the hell does the city government think it is doing by using tax dollars to distort the market for guns, increase demand, and drive up prices?  It just makes guns a better investment for gun-owners, and makes guns harder for the poor to acquire.

    We DO care about the poor, don’t we?

    The poor have a right to own guns, don’t they?

    Instead of using tax dollars to make guns harder for the poor to obtain, shouldn’t the council be looking at providing subsidies to the poor to help them obtain guns?

    The poor have subsidized rents, subsidized healthcare and food stamps.  Why not offer them “gun stamps” to help them enjoy the same gun rights as millionaires and billionaires?

    Doesn’t Obama care about the poor?

    Also, gun buy-back programs would seem to interfere with law enforcement and the administration of justice.  When gun buy-back programs offer gun sellers the opportunity to sell their guns anonymously and with “no questions asked”, it is simply providing criminals a way to dispose of stolen guns, or guns used in crimes.

    It is also setting up a safe and easy fencing operation for burglars to sell stolen guns.  Rob a house, grab the guns, deliver them to the “gun buy-backers”, pocket the cash.  No muss.  No fuss. No risk.  No evidence.

    When an ordinarly citizen buys a gun from Big Five Sporting Goods, there is a record of the sale including the serial number of the gun.  The gun buyer has to fill out paperwork and wait ten days.

    When the city buys guns, and willfully ignores the origin, history, or status of the guns, it is exempting itself from the gun laws that past legislators have endorsed as prudent and necessary.

    It is really outrageous how willing local politicians are to ignore fairness, common sense, and existing laws just to pass a pointless, ineffective, feel-good law in order to get a hug and a photo-op from the editorial cretins at the Mercury News or local TV.