Kari Lake is a fraud. She grabs media attention and fundraises by pouring the acid of distrust over America’s voting systems. Her continued false claims that she lost the Arizona governor’s race due to cheating have repeatedly been rejected by the courts.

San Joaquin County Supervisor Steve Ding was wrong to speak at the same event as her — the conservative San Joaquin Freedom Fest — earlier this month. According to the Pew Research Center, only 9% of Republicans trust the federal government to do the right thing always or most of the time. A leader should not even tacitly support people who make this distrust worse.

That said, Ding’s message at the event — that mail-in ballots are vulnerable to fraud — was Kari Lake Lite, free of conspiracy theories and, in a way, as much about restoring trust as undermining it. 

“I absolutely have my qualms about mail-in ballots,” said Ding, whose objections boil down to two: mail-in voters are vulnerable to pressure from those around them, and they weaken the healthy civic community that forms around volunteer polling places.

With mail in ballots, “You are not guaranteeing everybody’s right to secrecy,” Ding said in his Freedom Fest speech. “I hate to shock this crowd, but there are some households where there is peer pressure still, where men are not allowed to vote the way they want to.”

That line got a good laugh. Ding, however, presented no evidence of such peer pressure. 

“You also have individuals within the community that can go door to door, and it opens up the opportunity to bribe a household member …” Ding continued.

Ding, again, presented no cases of such bribery.

I can. In the 1980s, longtime Stockton Councilman Ralph Lee White was found to have bribed and intimidated voters in the old District 9. 

… But 1989 was 34 years ago. Cue Flock of Seagulls.

More recently, former Lodi Councilman Shakir Khan was charged with 13 counts of voter fraud, involving scores of mail-in ballots, in the 2020 election. 

So the two voter fraud cases, one proved, one alleged—were thwarted by the law. White was kicked out of office. Khan’s next court date is Sept. 5. Seems like the system is working. 

A group of election skeptics — MAGA Republicans convinced county elections are rigged — obtained voter rolls and tried to sleuth out fraud themselves. Among their report’s bombshells were 184 people registered to a restaurant—which turned out to be O’Connor Woods, a senior living community.  

In fact, Olivia Hale, San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters,  investigated the group’s allegations — 10,000 dead voters, etcetera — and, “I didn’t find anything at all,” she said.

The suspicions of the MAGA voting skeptics were a castle built on baloney.

“There’s that small group of folks that no matter what I tell them they’re going to feel what they feel,” Hale said.

Ding’s second objection — mail-in ballots break the bonds of civic community that form around polling places — is a good point. But it does not concern fraud.

Ding: “What they do in Solano County is every polling place is adopted by a civic group whether that is the … the Kiwanis Club, the Lions Club … Quite frankly, when you put people in charge, their attitudes change.”

Okay, but when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, California began sending mail-in ballots to every voter. Before Covid, when citizens could choose mail-in ballots or polling places, 81% chose mail-in, Hale said. 

Clearly, most voters don’t share Ding’s nostalgia for polling places. For those who do, there are 178 precinct polling locations countywide.

Ding concluded by acknowledging some on the local hard right want to eliminate voting machines entirely, believing them cooked.

“But in this county I’m going to go about it in a little different direction, but still have people in charge of the elections,” he said.

Meaning community people. Because, Ding said to applause, “Community solves problems. Government doesn’t.”

Kari Lake, the keynote speaker at the San Joaquin Freedom Fest on Aug. 4 at Hutchins Street Square in Lodi, speaks to the media before the event. (Robyn Jones)

The MAGA election skeptics didn’t solve problems. They created them.

Let’s hope that a citizens’ election advisory committee, which is studying election security, does better. It meets once more this year, then issues recommendations. If Adopt-a-Poll is recommended, that’s fine. Especially if this reduces Republicans’ deep distrust of government. 

Ding’s concerns about mail-in ballots seem sincere, but the case he made was weak. Then there’s the politics. His attendance at an event keynoted by a notorious election denier may be his way of responding to a right wing that is more extreme and paranoid than when he served as former Congressman Richard Pombo’s chief of staff.

Another trust building measure: steer clear of Kari Lake.

Investigative columnist Mike Fitzgerald’s column runs on Wednesdays. His views do not represent those of the Stocktonia management and staff. Phone (209) 687-9585. On Twitter and Instagram as Stocktonopolis. Email: mfitzgeraldstockton@gmail.com.

Join the Conversation


  1. Kari Lake threatens the deceivers. Open your eyes people and turn off MSM
    It’s rotting your ability to discern the truth.

    1. The only group of people that Kari Lake threatens are those of us who prefer democratic process over fascism, autocracy, and the grifters (like Lake and the orange menace she is mentored by) who are out to enrich themselves byt enslaving the rest of us.

  2. you have to show ID to get on a plane, to use a credit card, to rent a car, etc etc etc. Why not show voter ID to vote for the leaders of our country. Every election since before the hanging chads of Florida have legitimacy issues. This article is so slanted and prejudiced it is laughable.

  3. Ding’s concerns about mail-in ballots is anything but sincere. He’s doing what every Republican candidate is doing these days — tossing principles out the door in order not to alienate themselves from the MAGA base. Next election — he needs to go!

  4. When my son was in his early teens, he lied about his age and registered to vote. We only found out when ballot information arrived with his name on it. Some time after that a young man came to our door asking to see our son. The man was checking if our son was indeed old enough to vote. When our son admitted he’s lied about his age the man laughed and said it was the first time he’d met someone so anxious to vote that they lied about their age. Needless to say, they corrected the voter rolls. We have been using mail-in ballots for several years after our neighborhood polling place closed.

  5. I have used mail-in ballots for years; I have no concerns. i have no concerns about Hale. i have concerns about that election advisory committee and Ding. I think he is trying to create a situation where none exists for the simple reason to delay or cause fake issues if his people do not win. Lake lost.

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