Category Archives: Results

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.


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

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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Write In Period Open

If you’re still interested in running for office in the November 3, 2009 election, you now have an opportunity to file as a write-in candidate.

The write-in filing period opened September 7 and closes October 20 at 5 p.m.

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A Two to One Margin

It was lonely at the polls on May 19

It was lonely at the polls on May 19

While the results aren’t completely tallied, most of them are. By a two to one margin the turnout came from voters who voted by mail – 62% of them and that number is still climbing.

In San Mateo County, we have 360,782 registered voters – and not quite 25 30.67% of them voted in the May 19th Consolidated Special Statewide Election (just updated results at 4:30 p.m.). When you look hard at the polling place turnout, you must remember, we consolidated precincts – so some precincts were designed to serve as many as 1,400 voters, not just the usual 1,000 voters.  That means that our precinct boards served about 82  92 voters at each precinct over the course of a 13-hour day. That’s a little over 6  7 voters per hour. That’s tedium. Even with a slightly higher turnout.  The two-to-one margin didn’t move with this update.

A few years ago, I worked in a San Carlos Special Election as an election official. Warren Slocum, our Chief Elections Officer, thought it would be a good thing for me to experience working at the polls firsthand. I loved it, but I wanted more action. We had a total of 99 voters that day in our precinct—and it was painfully slow.

According to the Secretary of State’s preliminary county by county data – there are 33 counties that had 50% or more of their voter roll voting by mail in this election. With the state budget in shambles, tons of money could be saved if counties were given permission to decide locally if they wanted to conduct elections by mail.  It’s not unheard of –counties decide in the state of Washington.

The Canvass is Underway

Our Chief – Warren Slocum –  has always maintained that the most important, least understood, part of any election is the audit of that election, otherwise known as the Canvass. This is the part of the election that is “proof of the pudding” an expression my mother used to use that to this day I don’t quite understand.  Unlike that expression, the Canvass provides that transparent look at the election results that gives election administrators, candidates, voters and anyone who cares to take a close look, the confidence to know that every vote that was cast in an election was, in fact, counted and counted as it was intended. 

The Canvass technically begins when the polls close on Election Night. But the majority of the work of the Canvass begins the following morning. And that’s a good thing.  We all need sleep. It continues for the next 28 days. The warehouse will be humming with activity.  (nevermind that we’re also preparing for the June 2 Special Election for the Redwood City Elementary School District).

So, what’s the first order of business?  The retrieval of all of the eSlates that were locked together at the precincts Election Night and picked up the following day, the verification of signatures on the vote by mail ballots that were dropped off at the polls on Election Day (turns out there were 12,000+) ballots cast this way, the research that goes into verifying the signatures and registration status of everyone who cast a provisional ballot at the polls, and the inventory and return of all supplies in the red supply suitcases.  That’s just the beginning.

Think of it this way–there’s the rest of the ballots that have to be validated before they can be counted, there’s the whole warehouse that has to be put back in order (voting equipment, supplies, etc.), and then there’s the counting of those ballots that passed the signature verification check.  All that has to go on before the 1% manual audit can be conducted. With 407 precincts – there’s lots of stuff.  And it’s a surprisingly manual process if you were to visit the warehouse to see for yourself. This brings me to my next point!

All of this is open to public view – observers are welcome. We do ask that you call the Elections Office, specifically Narda Garcia, the Elections Supervisor at (650) 312-5365 and let her know you’ll be coming. She’ll issue you a visitors badge, give you an overview of what you’re seeing and answer any questions you have.

It’s Election Day!

The polls just opened at 7 a.m.  and if you haven’t already done so, make sure and vote today.  Stop by and make your poll worker’s day. They’ve been hard at work since 6 a.m. and will be there until about 9:30 p.m. tonight.

The polls will be open until 8 p.m. so you have plenty of time, but why wait?  Do yourself a favor – double check the location of your polling place before you go vote – every election there are a few that change locations. Use the “Find My Polling Place link” on the homepage of – it’s on the left side– scroll down to the Voter Tool Kit and click the link and fill in the 3 required bits of information about yourself.  It will present the name and location of your precinct. Double-checking will save you time and aggravation–both good things to avoid.

Yesterday’s statistics showed that the turnout of San Mateo County Vote by Mail voters (so far) had reached 14.43%.  Just got new information…the percentage has edged up to 16.64 percent with addition of the morning mail. Even more reason to make sure and vote today…with the record-breaking LOW turnout that’s expected, it may seem like you’re vote represents not only you, but the vote of your neighbor, friend and co-worker that didn’t bother to vote.  It really does matter.

Tonight, you can find all the results online here at Look for the Results Link at the top of the homepage.

The first returns will be reported at 8:05 p.m. and will represent those ballots cast by the Vote by Mail voters who returned them to our office prior to Election Day.  Ballots from this group that are received today or dropped off at the polls will be counted during the Canvass that technically (under law) begins as soon as the polls close.  We won’t start counting these ballots until the day after. Remember, we still have to signature verify before we can add these votes to the vote totals.

The 8:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. returns represent votes counted from  the Vote by Mail precinct voters and the Early Voters (those who came in person and voted in one of our offices in the 29 days prior to the election).

At 9:30 p.m. we’ll post live returns from ballots cast by precinct voters and continue to issue these every half-hour until all the precinct votes are counted.

Join us at the Rotunda at 555 County Center in Redwood City. between 7:30 p.m.  and 10:30 p.m. We’ll be issuing the returns, visiting with voters and others interested in this election and serving light refreshments. All are welcome!

What was the difference?

election_my5The May 5 Special School District election had striking similarities and wildly different results. All contests on the ballot were sponsored by school districts. All three school districts chose to conduct their election by mail. All three school districts were seeking approval for a parcel tax to support their schools. And, because of that, all three ballot measures required a 2/3rds vote for passage.

Two-thirds is a hurdle for any ballot measure; that’s why contests that ask voters to tax themselves voluntarily have such a high threshold. Ordinarily a simple majority is all that’s required for passage.

All three school districts received well over the 50 percent voter threshold. According to the semi-official election results posted election night, two districts, San Carlos and Woodside, were successful in passing their parcel tax measures. Only Jefferson Elementary School District’s Measure A did not meet the 2/3rd requirement for passage; yet Measure A did receive 57.89 percent voter support. So take a look at the results for each measure:

Measure A, the Jefferson Elementary School District measure received 57.89 percent voter support.

Measure B, the Woodside Elementary School District measure received 74.76 percent voter support.

Measure C, the San Carlos School District measure received 71.20 percent voter support.

What was the difference? The difference was the turnout.

Turnout for Measure A          21.25 percent

Turnout for Measure B          46.69 percent

Turnout for Measure C          47.46 percent

Turns out…turnout matters.