Author Archives: smcare

Early Voting Center to Open on Monday for San Bruno Fire Victims

As many county departments and local agencies have responded to the needs of the San Bruno fire victims, so, too, has the Elections Division. Beginning Monday, Oct. 25, we will open an Early Voting Center at San Bruno City Hall in coordination with the San Bruno City Clerk, the Honorable Carol Bonner.  This voting center will be open through Friday, Oct. 29 to better serve local voters displaced by the recent fire.

For the past six weeks we have worked closely with the San Bruno City Clerk and her staff to make this early voting center possible. We’ve met to coordinate the logistics of the voting machine set-up, established a secure remote access to information required to issue electronic ballots before Election Day and trained City Clerk Bonner and her Deputy, Vicky Hasha, how to manage an early voting center. Everything will be ready for voters on Monday morning.

Next week, voters in the fire damaged area can visit San Bruno City Hall at 567 El Camino Real to vote just as they would on Election Day or to obtain a paper ballot which they can mail in or drop off at the polls on Election Day.

We hope that this special early voting center will serve useful to those displaced by the fire as well as those within the community who continue to respond with assistance in the aftermath. We want to make sure that the displaced San Bruno residents have no trouble exercising their right to vote.

Legislative Update

Two terrific new laws and a bill awaiting the fate of the Governor’s pen will affect election officers, voters and the way we conduct elections in California. And in our humble opinion–for the better.

Signed into LAW. AB 1342 (Simitian) Will allow registrars to redraw the precinct boundary lines subtracting out the vote by mail voters from the total universe of 1000 voters served by a single precinct. Today, nearly half of our voters vote by mail. In low turnout elections, this makes an already long day (15 hours) into an incredibly long and slow day. Thank you, Senator Simitian! This law will save money and create more vibrant, active polling places on Election Day which in turn will make serving at the polls an interesting day! Our election officers deserve that.

Signed into LAW. AB 1717 (deLeon) Assemblyman deLeon‘s legislation will allow voters to “opt out” of receiving a paper copy of the Sample Ballot & Official Voter Pamphlet and “opt in” to receiving it electronically, instead. This law will offer people a choice and let those who prefer to read, save and retrieve their information online to do so. It will also help reduce our carbon footprint, save resources, and money. And, although it was recently blogged about, it was worth mentioning again as we think this is a really good step forward.

UNDER CONSIDERATION by the Governor. AB 2616 (Hill) If signed into law, Assemblyman Hill‘s bill will make it possible for vote by mail voters to confirm their votes were counted by checking the county web site or calling the Elections Office. If a ballot isn’t counted, the voter will be told why. (signature doesn’t match, ballot arrives late, etc.) I would note that it is our current practice (and has been for a long time) to contact a vote by mail voter prior to the election (if time allows) when a signature doesn’t match the voter registration card we have on file. We give the voter a chance to come into the office and resign to validate their signature. If their signature has completely changed, we ask them to reregister in order to update their signature. Signatures can change for a number of reasons – like a broken wrist, a stroke or when people are in a big hurry.

This is a good bill – it won’t cost much as we already provide this service for provisional voters.

About Those Missing Voter Pamphlets . . .

Were you one of the voters in San Mateo County that never got your voter pamphlet?  I was.  In fact, most everyone that I informally asked never got theirs either.  But that’s water under the bridge.

Assemblyman Jerry Hill received a response from Secretary of State Debra Bowen last week in answer to his question, “What happened to the Voter Guides for San Mateo County voters?”   By law, the state Voter Guides were supposed to be in the hands of voters not later than May 18.

After extensive research, it turns out, that Admail West, the mailhouse vendor hired by the Secretary of State’s Office to get out the 11 million guides statewide, goofed.  In some counties, they sent out duplicate and triplicate mailings while in other counties, like San Mateo County, they failed to mail a single state voter guide.

So, now you know. It wasn’t just you. It wasn’t your postal carrier.

According to the Secretary’s letter, “No one at Admail West has ever been able to fully explain the extent of the mailing problem, or why the company did not have better quality-assurance procedures in place…” And, one of the managers explained that an employee at Admail who handled the mailing data passed away in June.

The good news – the Secretary provided the Voter Guide information on her website.  To that we say, “Amen.”  It provides a great example of why distributing voter guides online makes sense. They are always available, even if you lose (or in this case, never receive) your voter guide.  We’re hoping lots of people agree and sign up to receive their voter pamphlet electronically in 2011.

AB 1717 – Supporting the ecoVoter

Kudos to Assembly Member de León and Assembly Member Jerry Hill from San Mateo County on the successful passage of AB 1717!  With the stroke of a pen , the Governor signed into law a bill that will allow voters to choose to receive their Sample Ballot & Official Voter Pamphlet in an electronic format beginning in 2011.

We have a hunch that a group of “early adopters” will sign up to “opt-out” of getting their Sample Ballot & Official Voter Pamphlet in the mail. For many people,  using a computer is the most natural place to get information.  It’s easier  than looking for the Sample Ballot pamphlet that you put someplace…and it won’t matter if someone else in the household tossed it out. The beauty of an online Sample Ballot that can be viewed or downloaded and printed from a website is that it is always available whenever you need it, where ever you are. It does more than reduce our carbon footprint and save trees (and money); it’s really convenient.

And, for those voters who try it and find that it’s not for them – they can change their mind at any time and resume the practice of getting it delivered in the mail. We hope people will “opt out”!  Right now, we’re working out the options. If you’re somebody who prefers to access information electronically, would you rather get the pamphlet from a website or have it emailed to you? Would you like a text message that says when it’s available?  Let us know.

Celebrating 20 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Today, the Commission on Disabilities hosted a very special 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Celebration at the County Government Plaza in

Redwood City with organizations, demonstrations, food, lawmakers, news media, friends and fun.

This prospective new voter gives the eSlate a "road test' as he votes the Famous Names Ballot.

San Mateo County Elections Office was there with our accessible voting equipment, voter registration forms, vote-by-mail forms, be a poll-worker forms, our grins and some helpful giveaways. We were joined by a SamTrans, the Hearing Loss Association, Hearing Dogs, Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Lions Club who sold barbeque and are famous for the work they do with the blind, and countless other organizations. The weather was beautiful, the mood festive, and the spirits were high. Every member of the Commission on Disabilities was there. We had a videographer on hand to capture some “B” roll for videos we’re working on. It was a fine day!

Here’s a little background. The ADA, signed by George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990, is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It was then and is today,  landmark legislation that is making a difference in the lives of Americans. It’s impact is akin to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. Disability is defined by the ADA as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.”  It has changed our country for the better and made us a more inclusive place to live, to work, to play.  Today is a day to celebrate! Today is a day to be proud of the way our country reinvents itself to improve the lives of all citizens.

Highlights from the Nov. 4 Presidential Election Results

We broke a few of our local election records this November.  Voter registration climbed to 389,718; the previous high (also this year) was 368,410. There were also a record number of ballots cast- 307,350 to be exact shattering the past record of 288,533 ballots cast, an increase of nearly 20,000. The number of voters who signed up to become permanent vote by mail voters has now reached 159,145 and represents nearly 41% of the total roll. And those are just the voters who always want to vote by mail, not those that are voting that way this election–that total reached 147,819 representing 48% of the total turnout.

Whether the lawmakers like it or not, we could be headed for an Oregon model of voting by mail at some point in the future. Or some incremental versions of that model. It continues to rise in popularity with each election.

We also had 1,001 student poll workers sign up and serve on November 4! They were terrific. And to think…in 2004, when we piloted the program, we had a total of 39 students serve.

These are just some of statistics that reflect what happened on November 4. Hungry for more San Mateo County election statistics? We’re happy to oblige you–take a look!