Ballot error affects Measure P voters | News | Almanac Online |


Ballot error affects Measure P voters

Printing issue leaves Portola Valley schools parcel tax measure off some ballots

In order for all area residents to have important local information on the coronavirus health emergency, has lifted its pay meter and is providing unlimited access to its website. We need your support to continue our important work. Please join your neighbors and become a subscribing member today.

Approximately 2,046 San Mateo County voters, including people set to vote on a Portola Valley School District parcel tax measure, received incorrect March 3 ballots because of a printing error, according to the county Elections Office.

Affected voters were sent replacement ballots two days after Elections Office officials learned about the error on Feb. 6. It occurred when the ballot printing vendor did not follow the county's mapping instructions for the ballot, Jim Irizarry, San Mateo County's assistant chief elections officer and assessor-county clerk recorder, said in an email.

Some voters received ballots with one measure when they should have received another, while some received a measure where there should have been none, Irizarry said. Others received ballots with a missing measure, he said.

For example, some Woodside voters received ballots without the school district's Measure P, a ballot initiative to renew a parcel tax that currently generates about $1.2 million annually for classroom programs and teaching staff, according to county records. Voters in other precincts set to vote on Measure P received ballots with La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District’s parcel tax measure instead, according to the county.

All voters who live within the school district boundaries – which go beyond those of the town of Portola Valley – can vote on Measure P. The district includes Woodside residents who live in the Skylonda and Skywood Acres neighborhoods and off Philips and Family Farm roads and part of Mountain Home Road. See a map of the school district boundaries here.

The Elections Office called 1,219 voters and emailed 944 voters about the misprint, Irizarry said. Elections officials sent a notice about the misprint to all affected voters with their replacement ballots, he said.

"We have no concern of a voter's selection being counted on a measure they were not meant to receive," Irizarry said. "Our system can identify whether it was sent by an affected voter, and whether it is the misprint ballot. Those ballots are set aside and, if no second ballot is received during the voting period, it will be 'duplicated' by our staff. In the duplication process, staff will take a blank ballot of the correct style, which the voter should have received originally, and fill it out with the voter’s selections."

Measure P would update the district's Measure O parcel tax, which expires in June 2021. It would continue the tax at its current rate of $581 per parcel in its first year, then increase it by 3% in each following year.

The district has a message on its website informing voters of the error.

"We want to make sure that everyone in our district has an opportunity to vote," said Superintendent Roberta Zarea in an email. "We appreciate that the County has sent out replacement ballots and is working to correct the issue."

Irizarry said county elections officials met with the vendor to ensure it reprograms its administrative permissions to restrict lower-level employees from changing the county's foundational database. The database, at the vendor level, will require approval by the company's chief technology officer and the county before any changes are made, he said.

"Our relationship with our ballot printing vendor spans over 14 years and this is the first time an incident of this nature has occurred," he said. "They are one of the largest printing vendors in the United States having printed over 50 million ballots for scores of jurisdictions throughout the nation. They are amongst the best and we have an excellent working relationship."

County officials will open a request for information process to assess the county's ballot printing after the fall general election, he added.


Sign up for Almanac Express to get news updates. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or show your support for local journalism by subscribing.

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?


12 people like this
Posted by No on P
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Feb 20, 2020 at 11:51 am

No on P

Stop squandering money.
Live within your means

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Stay up to date on local coronavirus coverage with our daily news digest email.

Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide
By Laura Stec | 11 comments | 29,679 views

These local restaurants are donating meals to Bay Area residents in need. Here's how to help.
By Elena Kadvany | 6 comments | 10,836 views

Coronavirus: Plan ahead now for a big outbreak
By Diana Diamond | 18 comments | 3,912 views

Will the Coronavirus Save Lives?
By Sherry Listgarten | 29 comments | 3,735 views

The first few seconds after awakening; before I remember the virus
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 799 views



The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 10, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

View Details