January 10, 2008 - Vote by mail
Paper: Lemoore Advance (CA)
Title: Vote by mail
Date: January 10, 2008
Author: Ken Baird ; Guest Column
As many of you know, the California Secretary of State has limited the use of the touch-screen voting system that you have been using at your polling place over the past few years. In Kings and twenty-one other counties, the Secretary of State only allows the use of one touch-screen voting machine per precinct to accommodate voters with disabilities, as required by the Help America Vote Act. Because of these restrictions, voters in Kings County will once again find paper ballots at the polls for all elections in the foreseeable future, including the February Presidential Primary. We anticipate the change back to paper ballots will result in longer waits at your polling place, higher cost, and significant delays in our ability to post timely election night results.
As a voter you can help. By becoming a vote by mail voter, you can shorten the lines on Election Day, reduce cost, and help the us post election night results sooner. Currently nearly half of all votes cast in Kings County are cast by mail.
The most common objection I hear to voting by mail is that we, at the elections office, will know how you voted. I want to assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. In addition to the fact that the dozen or so people who process the fifteen to twenty thousand absentee ballots we receive don't have time to read each ballot, our procedures insure that all voters remain anonymous.
All absentee ballots are received in a sealed envelope with the voters name, signature and a few other pieces of information to help us determine the eligibility of the voter. Before an envelope is opened, the voter's eligibility information and signature are checked against the information the voter provided on his or her registration application.
If everything matches, the unopened ballot is placed in a tray for processing. Eligible ballot envelopes are then opened by machine, in batches. A batch of opened envelopes is placed with the voter information face down on a table, and the ballot is separated from the envelope. Envelopes are batched and stored separately from the ballots that are now ready to be counted.
As ballots get longer and more complicated, voters are choosing to use this convenient option. Many tell me that they appreciate being able to study the propositions and work on a ballot at home and then drop them in the mail.
Besides using the mail, ballots can be hand delivered to any polling place on Election Day, or you can use the convenient drive-by drop off at the County Complex. If you mail your ballot be sure to allow enough time for the Elections Office to receive it.
By law, ballots that are received after 8 p.m. on Election Day may not be counted. And finally if you make a mistake marking your ballot, just return your spoiled ballot to the elections office and we will be happy to issue you a new one.
Eighty percent of all voters who vote by mail once, choose to continue to vote by mail in future elections. Voting by mail is convenient, secure, and less expensive to administer than votes cast at a voting precinct.
To become a vote by mail voter, call our office at 582-3211, Ext. 4401, and request an absentee ballot application; or drop by our office at the County Complex between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and one of our friendly staff members will be happy to assist you. Vote by Mail applications are also available on our Web site at www.countyofkings.com.
Ken Baird is the Assessor, Clerk/Recorder, and Registrar of Voters for Kings County.
Copyright, 2008, Lemoore Advance