El Dorado County Counsel Ed Knapp sent the following description and discussion on the petition for a writ of mandate and the county’s role in the process:
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“This is election season, so it is the time when all County Counsel’s offices around the state become involved in cases like this, because County Counsel’s offices represent the elections officials who print the ballot and the voter information pamphlet. Bill Schultz as the appointed Registrar of Voters is the elections official for El Dorado County. Anyone challenging what gets printed on the ballot, or in the voter information pamphlet, must by law file an action against the elections official, because he is the only one who can be ordered to put a name on or take a name off the ballot or change anything to be printed in the pamphlet.
“Any voter who thinks something should be changed on the ballot or in the pamphlet files a petition for a writ of mandate, and they are called the ‘petitioner.’ The elections official is the ‘respondent.’ The other candidate is named in the lawsuit as the ‘real party in interest.’
“County Counsel’s Office is required to represent county officials who are sued in their official capacity, so we represented Bill Schultz who was named as respondent in his official capacity as the elections official, and filed pleadings on his behalf. In this instance, the other two parties, the petitioner and real party in interest (the two candidates), happen to be current county employees, but their actions as candidates are personal, not part of their public duties. They are not involved in the litigation in their official capacity, so they are not entitled to be represented by County Counsel, but rather have their own private lawyers. The official position of Bill Schultz in regard to the issues in this proceeding was expressed in his pleadings, on file with the court.”