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Mail-in ballots may replace polls in county [seven counties in Calif.]
Santa Cruz Sentinel ^ | 5/5/05 | BRIAN SEALS

Posted on 05/11/2005 9:38:28 AM PDT by ZGuy

Go to the polls on Election Day?

So 20th century.

A bill in the state Legislature would allow seven counties to forego that tradition and conduct elections by mail only for five years, beginning in 2006. Santa Cruz County could be one of them.

County Clerk Gail Pellerin said she is interested in the county participating in such a pilot program if the bill does pass.

"Mail-ballot elections tend to cost less and increase turnout," Pellerin said. "It is definitely a concept worth exploring."

The bill would need to be signed into law and the county Board of Supervisors would need to go along with the idea. Pellerin said she plans to present the idea to the board at its May 17 meeting.

AB 867, authored by Assemblywoman Carol Liu, D-Pasadena, would authorize vote-by-mail in selected counties beginning next year and run through January 2011. The counties would then report to the Legislature on the method’s effectiveness.


In the November 2004 election, 46,993 voters in the county, or almost 32 percent of those registered, cast absentee votes, which means their ballots were sent to them by mail.

Beyond that, new legal requirements for voting are challenging elections departments around the state.

"What made me raise my hand was looking at the complications ahead," Pellerin said.

A deadline looms next year for acquiring a new voting system. For now, only one company offers a system that meets the requirements, she said.

She said elections offices statewide also are trying to meet federal disabled-accessibility requirements at polling locations, but the county doesn’t own the vast majority of the polling places it uses.

Mail votes would address those problems, though Pellerin said the county would still have places for people to drop off ballots, such as city halls and the County Government Center.

With absentee voting, challenges come when the ballot isn’t received by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Pellerin said the county Elections Department has tried to address that problem with steps like weekend voting along with the drop-off locations.

In general, the bill could save counties an estimated 30 percent on their election day bill, said Candice Chung, spokeswoman for Liu. Cost of elections vary by type, whether it is local, state or presidential, for example.

The November 2004 election cost the county about $430,000.

Liu hopes the approach will spark an increase in voter participation.

"It has been concerning to her people aren’t voting," Chung said, noting the November 2004 voter participation rate of 57 percent was considered a good turnout. "There’s obviously a problem with the system."

Liu’s bill based on the mail-in system in Oregon, where in 1998 voters approved using that method for all elections. The voter participation rate in Oregon for the November 2004 election was 84 percent.

Other counties that would participate if the bill is enacted into law would be Calaveras, Mendocino, San Benito, San Mateo, Sierra and Ventura counties.

Assemblyman John Laird said a test run in a few counties is the appropriate approach.

"I think it’s something that has to be tested to make sure there is security, to see if it fosters higher participation and to see what the pitfalls are," said Laird, a Santa Cruz Democrat.

The bill’s next stop is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, but no hearing date has been set. It would also need state Senate approval and the governor’s signature to become law. The law would expire in 2011 unless extended by the Legislature.

Security problems should be no greater than with existing absentee voting practices, said Assemblyman Simon Salinas, D-Salinas.

He is authoring a bill that would allow Monterey County to continue the practice, which it began in 2003, for local elections in that county. His bill applies only to Monterey County and only to local, not state or presidential, elections.

"They reported no incidents of fraud," Salinas said.

Salinas said Liu’s bill makes sense, calling it as safe as current absentee voting.

If Santa Cruz County supervisors oppose the bill, it could be amended to exclude the county, Pellerin said.

Supervisor Mark Stone said the idea is worth considering, but he expressed some reservations. Some people like going to the polls and seeing neighbors, he said.

"It is interesting from an efficiency standpoint, but I don’t know if it is the answer," Stone said. "Before we do that we definitely need to find out what the people think and if they want us to be one of the counties."

TOPICS: Politics/Elections; US: California
KEYWORDS: 2006; 2006elections; aliens; citizenvoice; illegals; laraza; mailinvoting; maldef; mecha; mexa; stealingelections; stufftheballotbox; votebymail; voterfraud

1 posted on 05/11/2005 9:38:31 AM PDT by ZGuy
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To: Bernard Marx; Rabid Dog

Bernard Marx - Thanks for the heads up on this from your post on the Wisconsin stolen election story.

2 posted on 05/11/2005 9:39:52 AM PDT by ZGuy
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To: ZGuy
"Mail-ballot elections tend to cost less and increase turnout,"

We in Washington state have learned this the hard way, especially when it comes to dead voters, and illegal voters...

(Nah, it could never happen! ;'}
3 posted on 05/11/2005 9:41:16 AM PDT by rockrr (Revote or Revolt! It's up to you Washington!)
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To: ZGuy
mail-in ballots...increase turnout

In other words, they promote fraud. Increasing vote fraud is the only way Democrats can win elections.

4 posted on 05/11/2005 9:43:31 AM PDT by Kenny Bunkport
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To: Kenny Bunkport
Interesting point, but except for San Mateo, these are Republican dominated counties. The only thing they have in common, and the reason they were probably selected for this trial, is that they all have large swaths of rural or mountainous terrain that makes reaching polling places difficult. Given the choice between driving 30 miles to vote, and dropping their ballot in the mailbox, I'm sure the residents of Calaveras County would opt for mail...and that area's about as conservative as they come.
5 posted on 05/11/2005 9:50:44 AM PDT by Arthalion
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To: Arthalion

You make a good observation. However, I'm so suspicious of Democrats that I don't think one of them would be sponsoring a bill like this unless they could figure out some angle to scam the system.

6 posted on 05/11/2005 10:13:34 AM PDT by Kenny Bunkport
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To: ZGuy

Thanks for posting this -- I couldn't find a link on the local story. I'm sure Ventura County is being targeted by the Dems because we're still nominally a Republican county, represented by Elton Gallegly. Oxnard, Santa Paula and several other county cities are magnets for illegals, making them a fraud-rich environment for mail-in ballots.

7 posted on 05/11/2005 10:27:56 AM PDT by Bernard Marx (Don't make the mistake of interpreting my Civility as Servility)
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To: ZGuy
"They reported no incidents of fraud," Salinas said.

King County, Wa, didn't report any incidents of fraud either. That doesn't mean that there wasn't any.

8 posted on 05/11/2005 10:44:46 AM PDT by wyattearp (The best weapon to have in a gunfight is a shotgun - preferably from ambush.)
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To: Bernard Marx

I'm over in Simi. Unfortunately VC has quite a few RINO's in leadership positions (Republican Central Committee) to deal with too. Bob Larkin, for one. And our state rep Keith Richman joins with the dems all the time. Simi, T.O. Camarillo and Somis are keeping the county in the R column for now. Let's hope it stays that way.

9 posted on 05/11/2005 10:51:06 AM PDT by ZGuy
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To: ZGuy

No ballots by mail no absentee ballots, allow early voting and if abbroad allow for voting at US embasies.

No ID no vote.

10 posted on 05/11/2005 10:51:38 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
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To: ZGuy

If they're too lazy to go to the polls, then don't count their vote.

Only mail-ins that should be allowed are those state residents living outside the state (ie: military absentee voting)

11 posted on 05/11/2005 12:13:11 PM PDT by hattend ( a time warp all it's own!)
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To: ZGuy
Unfortunately VC has quite a few RINO's in leadership positions (Republican Central Committee)

That's why I qualified by saying "nominally" Republican. The increasing numbers of Angelinos moving to the county bring their socialist "government gimme, gimme" values with them -- if values is the right word. The RINOS are selling us out and I simply won't contribute to the county or state GOP any longer.

12 posted on 05/11/2005 1:26:25 PM PDT by Bernard Marx (Don't make the mistake of interpreting my Civility as Servility)
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