Judge grants temporary restraining order against Tommy Gong

Charles Bell, Lynn Compton and Stew Jenkins after getting a favorable verdict from the court.

Judge Barry LaBarbera granted San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Lynn Compton a temporary restraining order on Monday barring Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong from further correcting mismatched signature ballots.

Following the June 5 election, Gong told both Compton and her opponent Jimmy Paulding that he was going to allow voters who had not signed their ballots and those whose signatures did not match the voter signature on file to correct the signature issue until June 13. On June 12, Gong decided to extend the deadline for those whose signatures did not match while he required voters who forgot to sign their ballots to abide by the June 13 deadline.

On June 15, Compton filed a lawsuit arguing that Gong’s decision to open up the vote to one group while denying another violated equal protection laws. At that time, Gong said he was continuing to count corrected mismatched voter ballots.

Deputy County Counsel Ann Duggan told the court that Gong had put the 35 remaining mismatched ballots aside for review. Deputy County Counsel Tim McNulty asked the court to allow Gong to process ballots in order to allow the process to move forward.

Stew Jenkins, one of Compton’s attorneys, said their goal was to preserve evidence while the court reviews the issues.

“Once those ballots have been commingled, we have lost the ability to keep track of those ballots,” Jenkins said.

Judge LaBarbera said that the ballots should be set aside until he has a chance to hear arguments from both sides.

“At a minimum, he should not open or receive those ballots,” Judge LaBarbera said.

A hearing to continue arguments is scheduled for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

“The ACLU brought an action on the same bunch of laws,” Jenkins said. “This really affects all of California. It has the potential to clarify the law.”

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