Tonight: Changing how local elections are conducted


Big changes in the way elections are conducted in San Mateo County – including ending precinct voting places and giving every registered voter a mail-in ballot – will be discussed at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, at the Woodside Road United Methodist Church, 2000 Woodside Road in Redwood City.

The two-hour public meeting is hosted by the League of Women Voters of North and Central San Mateo County.

The changes, intended to reduce election costs and increase voter turnout, are authorized by a new state law that permits 14 counties, including San Mateo, to conduct all-mail elections starting in 2018.

Among the changes to be discussed at the meeting: Replacing precinct polling places with "large voting centers," providing ballot drop-off boxes, and allowing people to register to vote on Election Day (known as same-day registration).

San Mateo County's election calendar for 2018 includes a primary election in June and the general election in November and both will be done through the mail, said Mark Church, the county's chief elections officer.

The state's other 44 counties, with the exception of Los Angeles County, will be allowed to hold such elections starting in January 2020, Mr. Church said.

San Mateo County held an all-mailed-in ballot election in November 2015 as one of two counties – Yolo County was the other – participating in a pilot program that was a forerunner to this new law. The pilot program in San Mateo County showed that an election done through the mail was less costly than a traditional election and raised voter participation, Mr. Church said.

The 2018 elections in San Mateo County will also be the first to be held in the wake of many public agencies shifting their odd-numbered-year elections to even-numbered years, in keeping with a state law intended to increase voter turnout.

As a result, the 2018 sample ballots and voter information pamphlets will both be "much larger," Mr. Church told the Almanac. "The ballot will be a long one and voters will have to acclimate themselves to a very large ballot format," he said.


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2 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm

pearl is a registered user.

How about online voting? Online voting would save time and money concerning the mailing of paper ballots to the voters, and the voters having to mail them back to the County.

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Posted by Belle Haven Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 6, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Online = hackable

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Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 6, 2017 at 5:08 pm

This seems sane. I've been voting by mail for years.

The paper ballots give you a solid non-hackable audit trail, but they can also be quickly read via well proven optical scan equipment.

A little bit more 21st century (e.g. automatically e-mailing you once your ballot has been processed, maybe even confirming a correct read) would be nice, mind you - but this really is a pretty solid system.

4 people like this
Posted by MenloMike
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 6, 2017 at 11:04 pm

There is a lot of talk about "Election Integrity" and voter fraud.
In California, for example, the following are the questions in the “mail in” and “on line” voter registration form that a potential voter must answer:

"Read and sign below. I am a U.S. citizen and will be at least 18 years old on election day. I am not in prison or on parole for a felony. I understand that it is a crime to intentionally provide incorrect information on this form. I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the information on this form is true and correct."

Simply answering "Yes" and you will receive a mail in ballot.

The problem with this system:

1st: there is no required proof of U.S. citizenship, to register to vote. The registration form (in California) simply asks, “Are you a citizen?”

2nd: there is no proof required that you are at least 18 years old, as is required to register to vote. The registration form simply asks, “Are you at least 18 years old.”

3rd: there is no proof required that you are not in prison or on parole for a felony.

4th: The crime and penalty requires “Intentional” false information. Intention is difficult to prove. Very few people will be prosecuted successfully under this requirement to prove an “intentional” act; versus an “unintentional” act.

If you are not a citizen, or if you are under 18, or if you are a felon, your fraudulent vote should be presumed intentional.

The hollow threat that you are committing a crime by “intentionally” providing false information is not sufficient to deter a person who wants to cast a false ballot.

The present system of verification is ineffective.

If we want to avoid voter fraud, this is the solution:
1) Require proof of citizenship (a valid passport), confirmed by the national database of passports. If necessary, any citizen that can provide evidence that they cannot afford a passport should be provided one without charge.
2) Require presentation of a valid birth certificate confirming compliance with the minimum age requirement.
3) Require verification that the registrant is not in prison, or on parole, for a felony.

In this age of computers, all of this information is instantaneously verifiable.

The claim that verification of eligibility to vote “disenfranchises” anyone is not valid.
Proper verifiable identification is required to exercise your "right" to:
a) Purchase alcohol, buy certain chemicals or rent an apartment.
b) Vote in Labor Union elections.
c) Attend and vote at the Democratic and Republican National Convention.
d) Obtain a loan, credit card or government benefits, etc.

The right to vote in an honest election is an even more important right. Men and women have died to preserve this right. It is a sacred trust. . . . We must treat it as such.

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Posted by incentive
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 7, 2017 at 1:12 am

Every county gets lists of felons and and reports from the coroner to clean up the voter roles. When a felon or deceased person registers or votes, the county takes this crime very seriously.

@MenloMike should consider inventive. A person here illegally has no incentive to also illegally register and become a felon as well. Staying past a visa or crossing the border illegally is a civil crime. When a non-resident registers to vote, that is a criminal violation.

2 people like this
Posted by Hwy280
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Sep 11, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Mark Church lies in this article when he stated that the pilot Election in 2015 showed all mailed ballot elections saved San Mateo money. Costs were astronomical compared to a traditional election because of the universal polling places labor, technology and also outreach. His report to the state and his department budget shows that. Why would he lie when the expenses are public record? The public record is out there.

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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Why would he lie when the expenses are public record? The public record is out there."

Because we live in the most corrupt county in California. Where public officials can lie at will with zero consequences. Welcome to San Mateo County.

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Posted by RobertWoodside
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 18, 2017 at 12:12 pm

I haven't seen every single public official "lie" - I think there are some real good ones that I see trying to do good... look at the environmental baylands/sea level rise and immigrant affairs programs. ~BUT~ the problem is the advantage to the incumbent when you have department heads that are elected! This guy Mark Church maybe perfectly good at understanding the laws on property assessments and elections or marriage licenses - he is a lawyer afterall. ~BUT~ that doesn't mean he can manage a multi-million dollar organization with hundreds of employees. This guy was just a small-time lawyer - the only employees he had was maybe a paralegal and secretary for dictation in the 80's. The voters have entrusted him and not even the Board of Supervisors or the County Manager or Human Resources Division can do anything to improve this guy's performance.

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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 18, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.


I didn't say they "all" lie. I said if they do, they do so with impunity in this corrupt county we live in.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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