Category Archives: Polling place

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.

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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.

A New Voter Registration System for San Mateo County

The County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of a new Voter Registration System on November 10, which will make way to much more efficient and cost-effective registration and election management processes.

The new system, DFM’s Elections Information Management System (EIMS), supports automated data entry using intelligent character recognition and will nearly eliminate the fully manual data entry process used today.

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New process helps make Election Day a success

We’re now in the midst of the Official Canvass, a process that takes place immediately following an election. This process is our time to update voting history in the voter registration database and audit and certify the election results, and must be complete within 28 calendar days.

Until the official results are published in our Statement of the Vote, semi-official results will be regularly posted on our website at http://www.shapethefuture.org.

During the Canvass, we also take an opportunity to reflect on Election Day and the days leading up to it. Narda Barrientos, Elections Supervisor, once said, “The Elections Office is all about change. We’ve been in a constant state of change, and we will continue to change as long as it makes our processes stronger.”

The biggest change this election? We did away with Receiving Stations. Was it successful? As Mattel’s Magic 8 Ball would say, “all signs point to yes.”

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Election Day morning

November 3 is upon us, and polls open at 7 a.m. for voters who wish to cast a ballot in favor of or against measures and/or candidates in the Consolidated Municipal, School & Special District Election.

No county measures exist on the ballot, meaning not all cities are participating in the election. To find out whether or not you are able to vote in this election and to find your polling place, visit http://shapethefuture.org/apps/voterlookup.

What’s happening right now? Almost the entire staff is already in and at work, supporting Election Officers as they prepare for the opening of the polls. The Election Day Call Center, a phone bank that we set up specifically for Election Officers to call throughout the day if support is needed, is staffed with a team of people ready to assist.

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The Day Before

It’s the day before the November 3 election, and final preparations are underway.

Supplies are being distributed to Field Techs, back up Election Officers are being secured for the polls, and final training for the Election Day call center was conducted. Election Materials Courier routes are finalized, and assignments have been distributed to all participants in the process.

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Polling Place Surveys Underway Now

 

Access for All
Access for All

Purchasing HAVA compliant voting equipment was just the beginning of a process to make it possible for all voters to have a  private and independent voting experience.  The polling places have to be accessible and they have to be set up accessibly. 

That’s why the Secretary of State made HAVA funding available to evaluate polling places for accessibility. Truth is, these surveys have to be done every few years–they’re not a one time thing.  

In San Mateo County, nearly 40% of our 231 polling place locations (or 87  locations) have changed since the last HAVA polling place survey conducted in 2006.  Since many polling place locations host more than one precinct, that represents a  significant portion of our registered voters.
(A precinct can serve up to 1,000 voters.)

Why is that?  Well, here are a few of the reasons…

  • In 2006 – the accessible voting equipment required more electrical support and more room.  That spelled the end of most neighborhood garage polling places;
  • More people now vote by mail. In response, we have created more vote-by-mail precincts – allowed by law when the number of election day precinct voters falls below 250;
  • Many precincts have been consolidated–allowed by the Secretary of State in predictably low turnout elections;
  • Properties change hands.  Sometimes new owners don’t or can’t provide us their building for voting. Fire chiefs, while civic-minded, don’t like leaving their stations completely unattended when they go out on a call.   And, some schools have expressed concern about the security and safety of their young students. These are just some of the reasons that sites become unavailable for polling places. 

And it was time. Fortunately, our partners, the Center for the Independence of the Disabled in San Mateo County  (they moved from Belmont) has the expertise to conduct these surveys.

We’re halfway done. It’s really encouraging to see the ADA improvements made in many of the county’s polling locations.  Right now, there are just a handful of locations that we will probably have to relocate because we can’t identify a one-day mitigation to satisfy the ADA requirements.

Now if you’re wondering…what conditions would make a polling place unacceptable?  Wonder no more. It’s things like a doorway that’s too narrow to accommodate a wheelchair, inadequate (or no available) disabled parking, excessively steep ramps or walkways that make it impossible for a voter with disabilities to get inside the building, or a lack of curb cuts that prevents someone from getting from their car onto the sidewalk to gain entrance to the polls. 

We’ll be ready for November’s election. And so will our polls.