By Colleen Ksanda / Precinct Coordinator
Hello everyone and a big thank you to those of you who worked at the polls last year! We had two major elections in 2012: the Presidential Primary Election and the Presidential General Election.
June 5, 2012 Presidential Primary Election
Before the June 2012 election, polling places changed due to newly drawn precinct boundaries. Every 10 years after each Census, California’s political boundary lines are redrawn to balance the population in Congressional, State Assembly, Senate and County Supervisorial Districts. Our precinct boundaries were redrawn to follow US Census boundaries. As a result of this reapportionment, redistricting and re-precincting, polling places changed and some voters were assigned to new precincts.
Before the election, the Elections Office mailed postcards to voters notifying them of the changes. Nevertheless, a number of voters went to their old polling location and learned that they had been assigned to a new polling place. Poll workers rose to the occasion and did a great job of directing these voters to their correct polling places or offering them a provisional ballot.
Since the June election, we have made adjustments to some of the precinct boundaries to better accommodate voters. We are always interested in hearing from you about areas where voters would be better served by precinct boundary changes.
Another challenge for poll workers in the June election was learning new procedures to administer the first-ever Top Two Candidates Open Primary in which the two candidates with the highest number of votes became the final candidates in the General Election, regardless of political party. Poll workers met the challenge by following the new procedures and explaining them to voters.
November 6, 2012 Presidential General Election
The November 2012 election kept poll workers very busy, but that came as no surprise as Marin County had the highest turnout of all 58 counties in the State at 87.37% (135,438 of 155,000 registered voters.) The statewide turnout was 18,245,970 or 72.36%. Both the Lieutenant Governor and the Secretary of State presented us with awards for having the highest voter turnout.
We know how hard you work on Election Day. On behalf of the Elections Department I want to extend our sincere gratitude to you for providing great service to the voters and helping us conduct successful elections at the polls. You are a vital part of the election process and we are proud of all of you who serve at the polls in Marin County!
“Voting was inconvenient to my schedule” was the top reason that registered voters in Marin gave for not voting in the June 2012 Primary Election, according to a survey of non voters conducted after the June election.
In an attempt to find out why turnout in the June Primary Election was only 49.81% in Marin County, Political Science Professor Elizabeth Bergman, Cal State East Bay, conducted a phone survey of 358 non voters in Marin County. The survey found that the top three reasons for not voting were: Inconvenient to my schedule (54%); not interested in the election (42%) and forgot to vote (37%).
Voters made up for their lack of interest in the Primary Election by turning out in high numbers for the November Presidential Election when the 87.37% turnout in Marin County was the highest in the State.
View the survey report.
TO “E” OR NOT TO “E” – ELECTRONIC ROSTERS AT THE POLLS?
For the past 3 elections, poll workers at several of Marin’s polling places have used electronic poll books in place of paper rosters to look up and process voters. So far, we have tried e-poll books from three different vendors to see which one was the most user friendly; to learn about the features of this technology; and to see how both poll workers and voters would receive them.
The poll books vary in design from laptops to wireless tablets. The way it works is that first the Elections Department downloads voter registration information to the poll book to create an electronic roster for each precinct. At the polls, a series of screen prompts guide the poll worker to look up each voter. Voters still have to sign paper receipts because California election law does not yet permit electronic signatures on the Roster. Every hour poll workers can print a list of the voters who voted to update the Street Index.
The e-poll books also have screen messages that guide poll workers through handling different situations. For example, when a vote by mail voter wants to vote at the polls, but does not have both the ballot and envelope to surrender, the screen prompts the poll worker to issue a provisional ballot. After the election, it takes a few minutes to upload the information from the poll books into the election database, thereby eliminating the timely process of scanning the roster pages to create a record of who voted in the election.
Poll workers gave us feedback on their experience using the e-rosters. They said that it was easy to use; helpful for directing lost voters to their correct polling place; helpful when in prompting them on how to handle different voter issues; but sometimes slower when used in place of the roster. They also recommended we spend more time on training if and when we decide to use e-poll books for all precincts. Overall, they concluded that the benefits of electronic poll books far outweigh the challenges.
The Elections Department will follow the development of this technology and will keep you informed about future plans for using it in Marin County.
54 FUN YEARS AT THE POLLS
Chief Inspector, Alice Munoz, began working at the polls as a Clerk in a garage in Hayward in 1959. In those days, the voting booths had curtains, the voters used a stamp to mark their choices on the ballot, and poll workers counted the ballots by hand after the polls closed.
In the 1960 General Election when John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon by 110,000 votes, Ms. Munoz remembers that it took 12 hours after the polls closed to count the long ballots by hand. In those days, clerks received $25 for their 26 hour stint at the polls.
After she moved to Marin in 1963, Ms. Munoz continued working as a Clerk at a garage in Terra Linda. In 1973, she moved to the residential Country Club neighborhood in Novato. The County asked to use her large, 3-car garage as a poll site because it was accessible to people with disabilities and there were no public facilities in the precinct to use for voting.
Ms. Munoz has become acquainted with many people in her neighborhood and the surrounding area through her work at the polls. Voters visit her polling place on Election Day to drop off their mail ballots, to vote, to say hello, chat, share stories and to see the familiar faces of the poll workers. Ms. Munoz enjoys setting up her polling place and serving voters on Election Day. She says, “This is great…! It is 40 years now (in Novato) and we continue to see changes. Progress is the way of the future.”
Thank you, Alice, for your many years of poll worker service and for opening up your garage to the voters of your community! And many thanks to your competent team of Clerks: Jeanne Desmond, Carol Fitzgerald, and Bonnie Ryan, and Deputy Inspector Lucille Douglas.
MARIN VOTES NEWSLETTER
If you have a story you want included in the next newsletter, please contact our Editor, email or phone 415-473-6439 Colleen Ksanda.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THESE ELECTION DATES IN 2013/2014
Local jurisdictions may call an election for an established election date no later than 88 days before Election Day. We mail Poll worker recruitment letters 3 to 4 months prior to each scheduled election date.
- November 5, 2013 Uniform District Election
- April 8, 2014 Special Election (No election is scheduled at this time)
- June 3, 2014 Gubernatorial Primary Election
- November 4, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election