In gay SoCal House race, Rollins looks to 'ballot curing' in hunt for votes

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Monday November 14, 2022
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Will Rollins remains optimistic that he will win a Southern California House seat, though he is trailing in the vote count. Photo: Courtesy the candidate<br>
Will Rollins remains optimistic that he will win a Southern California House seat, though he is trailing in the vote count. Photo: Courtesy the candidate

In his still too close to call race for California's 41st Congressional District seat, gay former federal prosecutor Will Rollins has turned to what is known as "ballot curing" in his hunt for votes to put him into the winner's circle. As of Monday evening, he was behind by 5,489 votes against Congressmember Ken Calvert (R-Corona).

According to the unofficial returns, Calvert continues to lead with 51.55% of the vote, while Rollins trails the conservative Trump supporter with 48.45%. He has yet to concede, as Riverside County elections officials still have approximately 84,000 vote-by-mail and 10,000 provisional ballots to process.

The next election update will come around 6 p.m. Tuesday. In the meantime, Rollins has turned to asking his voters to ensure their mailed-in ballots will be counted if, for some reason, there was an issue with them that caused them to be disqualified.

Impacted voters should be receiving a notification from the Riverside County Registrar if there was a signature discrepancy with their mail-in ballot or the date is missing from the return envelope. Such voters have 30 days to submit a correction affidavit in order to make their vote count; the process is known as ballot curing.

"That's what the process of correcting a minor discrepancy on a ballot is called. If you're an eligible voter and there's an issue with your ballot verification, you can still fix it!" Rollins tweeted Monday morning.

As she looks to secure a majority in the House with 218 Democratic members, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is also shining a focus on ballot curing in not only Rollins' race but also contests in Arizona and Colorado. She is asking people to sign up to either make phone calls or canvass in the targeted districts via the website

"County elections officials have identified thousands of voters who either did not sign their ballot or whose signature does not match their voting registration record — and who can 'cure' their ballot. We have phone banks and canvasses to reach them — and WE NEED YOUR HELP," wrote Pelosi in an email Monday to her supporters. "Please sign up to reach voters who need to cure their ballots to make sure every vote is counted as cast."

LGBTQ Victory Fund President & CEO Annise Parker told the Bay Area Reporter Monday that her organization remained hopeful that Rollins could pull off a win in the newly drawn congressional district that includes the LGBTQ retirement and tourist mecca of Palm Springs. She pointed to the number of outstanding ballots to count for why Victory Fund wasn't yet ready to give up on the race.

"They are still counting in that race," said Parker. "There are still a lot of mail-in ballots that have not been counted. It is still close and still within striking distance."

Parker acknowledged, however, "this is a red seat but not overwhelmingly. This is such an opportunity in a seat that is possible. It is not easy but always possible."

Speaking to the B.A.R. by phone the day after the November 8 general election, Rollins, 38, had predicted his race would be "close." But he expressed optimism that his first-place finish on election night would eventually stand as additional ballots are counted due to Calvert's only receiving 48% of the vote in their June primary race.

"We know every single eligible vote must be counted, especially in this tight election, so our team is helping in this process too," noted Rollins, who lives in Canyon Lake with his partner, in his November 14 tweet. "We have the opportunity to do something historic here: flip this seat Blue, save the House and kick out corrupt Ken Calvert."

He asked voters who either "hear from the Registrar, or from our team, please respond and get that ballot fixed. You voted. Now make sure your voice is heard!"

Since last week the 69-year-old Calvert has insisted he will win the race once all ballots have been counted.

"We fully expect that lead will grow as more ballots are counted. Again, we will prevail!" he stated November 10.

Oregon congressional race

Meanwhile, in Oregon, lesbian former Santa Clara City Councilmember Jamie McLeod-Skinner conceded her contest for a U.S. House seat Sunday, November 13. In the race for the Beaver State's open, newly drawn 5th Congressional District, she was at 48.8% of the vote as of Monday morning.

Her Republican opponent, Lori Chavez-DeRemer, was in first place with 50.9%. McLeod-Skinner called Chavez-DeRemer Sunday to congratulate her on winning the seat and "wish her well" in representing their district "during these challenging times," she tweeted. "Our success as Oregonians is dependent on the success of our elected leaders, and I encourage all of us to help our elected leaders bridge our divides to address our common challenges."

The progressive McLeod-Skinner lost her first bid for an Oregon U.S. House seat in 2018. But, this year, she defeated moderate Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) in the June primary to advance to the fall ballot. With voters' growing concerns over crime and Democrats' handling of the economy, however, McLeod-Skinner faced strong headwinds in the general election.

If elected, McLeod-Skinner would have been her state's first LGBTQ House member and the first lesbian from the West Coast serving in Congress. Of the current 11 LGBTQ members of Congress, only three are lesbians.

Should Rollins be elected, he would triple out representation among the Golden State's congressional delegation. In the nearby 39th Congressional District gay Congressmember Mark Takano (D-Riverside) easily won reelection last Tuesday to a fifth two-year term.

Joining him on Capitol Hill will be gay Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who won election to the new, open 42nd Congressional District along the coast of Los Angeles County. From Lima, Peru, Garcia will be the first openly gay immigrant to serve in Congress.

Three other Los Angeles-area House candidates lost their races to oust incumbents. Gay progressives Derek Marshall in CD 23 and David Kim in CD 34 fell short against Congressmember Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) and Congressmember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), respectively, while nonbinary drag queen G "Maebe A. Girl" Pudlo in CD 30 was defeated by Congressmember Adam Schiff (D-Los Angeles).

This article will be updated as more ballot returns come in.

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