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State Senator Leland Yee was indicted for public corruption early this year as part of another major FBI undercover sting operation. Federal prosecutors say Yee consorted with an alleged San Francisco Chinatown gangster, Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, in a scheme that involved conspiracy to traffic in firearms, money laundering, murder-for-hire, drug distribution and what the law calls defrauding citizens of honest service, or political corruption. Yee is free on bail awaiting trial. He has been suspended from the Senate. He dropped out of the race for California Secretary of State shortly after his arrest. But it was too late to take his name off the June ballot.

And the California voters did not seem to get the memo about his indictment, nor the voluntary withdrawal of his candidacy for Secretary of State.

In this month’s largely sleepy California election, there was one jaw dropping result. More than 350,000 ballots were cast for Leland Yee for secretary of state, good enough for third place, even though he dropped out. This came as a surprise to pundits as well as the other seven candidates.

The top two finishers in the June 3 primary, State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Van Nuys) and Republican Pete Peterson, led the pack with 1,129,988 votes (30.2 percent) and 1,117,487 votes (29.8 percent) respectively, and are headed for the Nov. 4 runoff. Yee was a distant third with 354,425 votes (9.5 percent), but he finished ahead of five candidates who had actively campaigned on a clean government platform. In fourth place was independent Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, with 347,509 votes (9.3 percent). He told KFBK Newsradio, “If you were a Californian that didn’t happen to be paying very close attention the week of the Yee arrest, the odds of you knowing about it were actually relatively slim.”

But, in San Francisco, where there was heavy coverage of the scandal – and where Yee served on the Board of Education, on the Board of Supervisors and in the State Assembly before becoming a state senator – Yee finished third with 12.2 percent of the vote, behind Padilla (41.1 percent) and Democrat Derek Cressman (14.0 percent). Asian Week pointed out that this was better than Yee’s fifth-place showing as a candidate for mayor in 2011.

In San Mateo County, part of which was represented by Yee in the Legislature, Yee was in fourth place (9.5 percent) behind Padilla (38.1 percent), Peterson (17.0 percent) and Schnur (10.2 percent).

The vote count for non-candidate Leland Yee does not stand alone in the history of jaw dropping election results from profoundly uninformed California voters.

Sherman Block (July 19, 1924 – October 29, 1998) was the 29th Sheriff of Los Angeles County, California from January 1982 until his death. He was preceded by Peter Pitchess and succeeded by Lee Baca. He died during his campaign for re-election, which he was expected to win. He still obtained about one third of the vote by voters who apparently were unaware that he was dead.

The California Worker’s Compensation system is highly politically influenced. One would hope that voters would be informed of the consequences of various political issues and strategies before selecting a candidate for office and make a wise and well informed choice. Vote counts such as the one for disgraced suspended Senator Leland Yee who had withdrawn his own candidacy should raise some question about the efficiency of the California electoral process.