Farming for Votes

The Concept of seeding addresses with new registered voters may seem very foreign or preposterous or outrageous or even unethical to you the reader but has existed for awhile.

When this idea was originally described to me it was in the context of the since forgotten Measure C, a special election here in Palm Springs way back in June 2018 to put strict limits on STVR’s (Short Term Vacation Rentals). Measure C was brought about by unhappy full time residents of Palm Springs wanting to change the STVR ordinance in here in Palm Springs. Those residents lost by a whopping 68.57% against to 31.43% in favor. The “Yes” votes were 3100 and the “No” votes 6764.

Well could someone, a group perhaps turn those 600 STVR’s or in the case of the entire city over 4000 STVR’s, which 80% are owned by individuals and corporations that do not live in those properties or vote in Palm Springs, into voter registration mills to generate 100’s, if not 1000’s of votes.

“Seeding” is the practice of getting a property owner to change their voter registration temporarily to their STVR property address and after the election, change it back to their actual residence, say in Los Angeles, San Francisco or San Diego or anywhere else.
The scheme is done with the sophistication of utilizing an extensive list of STVR property owners available from the City of Palm Springs, plus employing banks of telephone callers notifying the STVR owners of the serious effects the outcome of the next election will have on their ability to continue to operate their STVR. My position is a temporary moratorium on new STVR’s and a review of the ordinance and tougher restrictions.

Let’s see how it works. Mr. and Mrs. Smith live in Beverly Hills. They own a home at 8XX Hermoso Place in Old Las Palmas. The home is permitted with the City as a STVR (28 days or less). In early 2018 they get a call from an organization saying they represent the rights of STVR owners in Palm Springs. They are told they're going to lose their ability to rent their home as they see fit and can do a simple thing to help fight the reactionary neighbors in Palm Springs trying to control the use of their property. Mr. and Mrs. Smith are told you can help fight this threat. All they have to do is simply register to vote at their Palm Springs address and receive a
vote-by-mail or absentee ballot. Cast their vote at the appropriate time before the election and defeat Measure C and preserve their STVR status.

This allegedly done completely oblivious to the growing minority of full time residents of Palm
Springs frustrated with “ghost” neighborhoods and the weekend influx of STVR partiers.

The STVR owners were most likely told to register easily by going to:

Vote.org
RegistertoVote.CA.Gov
USVoteFoundation.org
or even
OverseasVoteFoundation.org

After the election, if they so choose, they can re-register at their Beverly Hills address to vote in the next local, state or U.S. election.
In California there are no Duration Residency Requirements. A person just has to state “I live here”. Mr. and Mrs. Smith can also go to:

Voterstatus.sos.CA.Gov,

and it immediately pops up if you’re registered to vote, and displays the following:

Their Address
Party Affiliation (if any)
Vote by Mail status
County where registered
Voting status on previous elections.

All this “Seeding” was allegedly coordinated through phone banks doing surveys and polling behind the scenes. Private polling often times never sees the light of day, but can be easily leaked.

Who might the players be in this alleged scheme? The following groups and individuals all have a stake in keeping the the STVR ordinance and policies in place. No direct connection is known at the time of this writing. Whistle blowers could surface after this article is published.

VRON, Vacation Rental Owners & Neighbors, formed to give a voice to STVR owners and a  lobby to advocate for STVR’s in Palm Springs government. The principals of VRON are Bruce Hoban, Co-Founder and also Co-Campaign Chairperson for the “We Love Palm Springs- No on Measure C”. He previously spent 25 years in Silicon Valley and 20 years of media and audience research; and David Feltman, Affiliated with Stonewall Democrats and a professional marketer and campaign strategist.
PS-RESORTS, a nonprofit organization headed by Aftab Dada, Chairman. He is also the General Manager of the Hilton Palm Springs.

PS-RESORTS is designed to promote Palm Springs through events. Most of the revenue of PS-RESORTS comes from TOT (transient
occupancy tax) rebates from the City to the tune of $500K a year. The organization is comprised of Hoteliers, Restaurateurs, Aqua Caliente Casino, Palm Springs Convention Center, Palm Springs Convention & Visitor Bureau and Grit Development (formerly Wessman).

Geoff Kors claims the “We Love Palm Springs “ slogan he coined and he says he started PS-RESORTS through the City before it became an autonomous non-profit. A third alleged player in the overall picture is professional lobbyists Christopher Lucker. He lobbies Palm Springs Government officials on behalf of Wintec Energy Limited, who’s CEO is Frederick Noble. Noble is a campaign donor to many Palm Springs candidates in past elections and the present election. His donations have been as much as $10,000, per public disclosure statements. I have not taken any monies from Noble. The litany of names and organizations trying to influence Palm Springs politics is staggering.

So, Mr. & Mrs. Smith gets a hypothetical call this summer or early fall from an organization they spoke to in early 2018. “Remember us …..PS….. organization. We are calling to inform you that your STVR may be at risk again due to the candidacy of Alan “Alfie” Pettit, and his position on STVR’s. He is running against Geoff Kors for City Council in District 3, here in Palm Springs. Please consider again like in 2018, registering to vote at your STVR address for this November 5th election and support Geoff Kors, who will protect your interests. You can certainly re-register back in Beverly Hills in plenty of time to vote in the next years primaries and Presidential
Election”. Whether this is an illegal practice is unclear, but unethical most certainly. I have asked the Riverside County Registrar of Voters to provide to my campaign voter registration records for the last 6 months, to analyze and see if there is a surge in registrations. By analyzing and comparing new voter registration rolls to the list of existing STVR properties, which exceeds
4000 STVR’s, should reveal if there is any correlation. I wholeheartedly believe there is. It will take time to review this situation and the data and then present those findings to the County. I will ask the media to probe and investigate this alleged practice, and if this is occurring to expose this voter registration scheme.

One other practice is a practice that does occur and it is called “Harvesting “. This is assigning campaign workers to go to nursing homes, assisted living centers and homeless shelters to help the residents fill out their ballots. Then the ballots are taken by the campaign workers to the appropriate polling place. Campaign staff cannot be paid on a per signed ballot basis, and the voter must fill out the authorization section on the outside of the official ballot consenting to have that worker deliver their ballot.

I hope ALL of you vote on November 5th and elect me, Alan “Alfie” Pettit for Palm Springs City Council, District 3. Don’t allow your vote to be watered down by “seeding” practices. I will shine a light into all of these dark corners.

I remember very early in my campaign, I got advice from a friend and colleague to “follow the
money trail”. It was great advice.

From CV Weekly
Alfie Pettit runs for "Queen of the Desert", featured on the Desert Sun.
Desert Sun covers when I received my star in downtown Palm Springs.