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Vote Early, Very Early

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Mar 12, 2012 at 14:46:00 PM PDT

Closure of mail processing centers means mail could take days longer in some locations

by Brian Leubitz

In case you haven't watched the dramatic saga that is the US Postal Service, well you should check in on that. There is the sensational story of the members of Congress that are super excited that their union employees will be laid off, and are fighting the pension overpayment issue. But, for electoral purposes, this message from SoS Debra Bowen is important:

Unfortunately, a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) plan to shut down 223 big mail processing hubs across the country and 14 here in California - including the one located in Redding - threatens to disenfranchise millions of Californians who vote by mail. ... By law, late ballots can't be counted; postmarks aren't enough.

The USPS asserts the closures won't affect your ballot, but its future best hopes do not coincide with the current reality voters and elections officials have already witnessed in California. When mail facilities closed last year in Monterey, Ventura, and Yuba counties, officials conducting small local elections there reported mail that used to take one to three days to deliver was instead taking five to seven days. (Redding.com)

Many voters use the last weekend to vote their ballots. If the closures go ahead, there is a strong chance that these voters will be disenfranchised.  No matter which side of the political spectrum on which you reside, this is seriously troubling.  The post office, Congress, and the State need to find a way to ensure that voters aren't losing their votes because the post office is having some money issues.

Brian Leubitz :: Vote Early, Very Early
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Legislative Hearing on this issue tomorrow (Tuesday, March 13, 2012) (5.00 / 1)
For anybody who is interested in this issue, the Assembly Elections & Redistricting Committee (Assemblymember Paul Fong, Chair) and the Senate Elections & Constitutional Amendments Committee (Senator Lou Correa, Chair) are holding a joint oversight hearing on this subject tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 PM in Room 2040 of the State Capitol.  Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Congressman John Garamendi, and elections officials from five counties will be testifying about the impacts that Postal Service closures will have on elections in California, and about the steps they are taking to minimize any negative impacts on voters.

For anyone who is unable to attend the hearing in person, live-streaming audio of the hearing should be available here:

Ethan Jones
Assembly Elections & Redistricting Committee Staff

while it is indeed a travesty that the postal service is being gutted (5.00 / 4)
it seems to me that since that is a federal issue out of our hands, the easiest legislative fix might just be to accept all ballots postmarked by election day, as is done in washington state IIRC. sure, people won't have their instant election results, but making sure voters aren't disenfranchised trumps the political media's desire for instant results for their churn.

If You Can, Drop It Off In Person (5.00 / 1)
I vote in San Mateo County and make it a point to drop off my ballot at the Election Office -- I know not everyone can do that, but if you can, you know it is delivered on time.

You can also drop it off at any polling place on election day (0.00 / 0)

I think?

[ Parent ]
any polling place IN THE SAME COUNTY. (0.00 / 0)
This is a surprisingly big issue for people who commute (or who are college students still voting where their parents live instead of where they go to college): state law only allows you to return absentee ballots to polling places in the same county as where you live. Ballots returned to polling places out of county will not be counted.

This has always seemed stupid to me, mostly because I've worked many an election where I ended up turning people away when they tried to return their out-of-county ballot to me (look, really, it won't get counted if you do this, can you make it to your home county before 8?). I understand that each county has its own processing system, but really, there's no reason that the counties couldn't courier the ballots to each other the next day.

[ Parent ]
Votes should count (5.00 / 1)
if they are postmarked by a certain date.  California really needs this changed.  

There is just no magic to requiring that an absentee ballot be received by election day.  Assume a voter mails the ballot five days early.  Why should it not count if received the day after the election through no fault of the voter?  Other states allow this.  I recognize that there should be some cut-off; but election day itself is ridiculous and undermines voter participation.  

While I'm ranting about this, let me add that a voter should be able to learn if his or her ballot was not received in time.  God knows, I have mailed my ballot every election for over a dozen years and for all I know, they were received late or the signatures were challenged.  Or if not, they will be the first time it would make a difference to the outcome.  

there's a pratctical problem. (0.00 / 0)
imagine a ballot which is postmarked on election day, gets lost, and shows up six months later. does it get counted?

most places with a 'postmarked by' date have two dates: a postmarked by date and a received-by date of about two weeks later.

[ Parent ]
Cut-off date (0.00 / 0)
My comment states:  "I recognize that there should be some cut-off;"  

I agree that there is no way a ballot found six months later can be considered as there must be some finality to the count.  But it is not unreasonable to say a ballot mailed by a certain date [e.g., the Saturday before the election] will be counted if received by [a stated date such as the Friday after the election].

There are very few elections where this would matter, but when the vote is real close, why should we reject valid ballot caught in the mail?    

[ Parent ]
washington seems to manage just fine (0.00 / 0)
with vote by mail with an election day postmark deadline.

[ Parent ]
yolo county clerk freddie oakley has a link (4.00 / 1)
on the elections webpage that tells you if your absentee ballot has been received. i don't see why this can't be done elsewhere, although yolo is admittedly a rather small and exceptionally well-run WRT elections.

[ Parent ]
Shouldn't that be VOTE EARLY AND OFTEN (0.00 / 0)

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