Almanac

News - October 30, 2013

Election: Snafu leads to reissue of 120 ballots

by Renee Batti

The failure of the county to officially authorize school boundary changes approved by government agencies and voters over the last two years has led to a snafu in the San Mateo County Elections Office, which has had to reissue ballots to 120 residents of four areas, including 38 in the Pacific Parc area of Menlo Park.

The problem came to light when a resident of the Pacific Parc area at 600 Willow Road, which had been annexed to the Menlo Park City School District in 2011, noticed that the ballot mailed to her didn't include the school district's Measure W bond measure.

She notified the county, and an investigation showed that ballots for the Nov. 5 election were issued based on old boundaries involving four county areas because the boundary changes had never gone before the Board of Supervisors for finalization.

As a result, the supervisors held a special meeting on Oct. 23 to order the boundary changes, allowing the Elections Office to send out new ballots.

After that Wednesday vote, correct sample ballots and official ballots were hand-delivered to the post office, according to Mark Church, the county's chief elections officer. "All affected voters are being notified by phone and email," Mr. Church said in an email the next day. Votes already mailed in won't be counted twice, he said, because "all ballots are bar-coded, and incorrect ballots will be set aside."

In addition to the 38 voters in Pacific Parc, 80 voters in the Fairmont Drive area in the mid-county, one voter of the Langley Hill area of Woodside, and one person from the Jackling Drive area of Hillsborough were affected. Fairmont Drive transferred from the Belmont-Redwood Shores elementary and the Sequoia Union High School districts to the San Mateo/Foster City and San Mateo Union High School districts in late 2011.

Mr. Church noted that Education Code Section 35765 "requires the Board of Supervisors to render an order to change the boundaries of the affected school districts" when a transfer occurs.

"I can only take action (to update boundaries for balloting purposes) upon proper notice and authorization as prescribed by the code," he said in his email.

Approval by the supervisors typically happens shortly after a transfer is approved by the appropriate agency or by voters, and it's not clear where the breakdown in the process occurred.

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