October 6, 2008 - ABSENTEE VOTING GETS UNDER WAY THIS WEEK - OFFICIALS PREDICT RECORD TURNOUT OF REGISTERED VOTERS 60 PERCENT EXPECTED TO VOTE BY MAIL
Paper: Press Democrat, The ( Santa Rosa, CA)
Title: ABSENTEE VOTING GETS UNDER WAY THIS WEEK - OFFICIALS PREDICT RECORD TURNOUT OF REGISTERED VOTERS 60 PERCENT EXPECTED TO VOTE BY MAIL
Date: October 6, 2008
Author: BLEYS W. ROSE, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
More than 152,000 absentee ballots are at the main Santa Rosa post office
this morning, ready for delivery to Sonoma County registered voters who have
the next month to make their decisions.
Given intense voter interest -- especially with presidential, city council
and county supervisorial elections crowding the ballot -- county election
officials predict better than 90 percent of the county's 238,000 registered
voters will cast ballots by Nov. 4.
``We had a record 89.4 percent turnout the last presidential election , so I
think it is safe to say we will get over 90 percent this time,'' said County
Clerk Janice Atkinson. ``I can't remember an election when there was more
interest than this one.''
The percentage of voters casting absentee ballots in Sonoma County is
traditionally among the highest in the state, and officials predict that well
over 60 percent of the total vote will be delivered through the mail. But
whether those ballots will be returned sooner or later is anybody's guess.
``We'd like to get them back as soon as possible because we have to verify
every signature,'' Atkinson said. ``But I don't know how we get past human
nature to procrastinate.''
Voters who signed up for regular receipt of absentee ballots should receive
theirs by midweek. The county elections office received a record 5,200
requests from voters who wanted one-time-only absentee ballots for this
Voter information pamphlets from the state and county elections offices
should arrive in the mail no later than this week or early next week. Because
of a recent change in state law, each household with a registered voter will
receive only one pamphlet on state issues and candidates instead of one for
every registered voter.
This year, Sonoma County's absentee ballots have been redesigned with a
separate mailing envelope added so that the voter signature does not appear on
the outside when it is returned in the mail. Atkinson said privacy concerns
for the security of voter signatures led the county to provide a separate
Despite the healthy number of candidates and issues on the Nov. 4 ballot,
the county elections office managed to fit it all on three cards in most
cases, four cards in some.
The largest election ballot in county history involved nine cards.
On Election Day, the county will still open 306 polling places even though
at least 60 percent of all ballots will be cast through the mail, said Gloria
Colter, assistant registrar of voters. State law, she said, prevents county
elections offices from consolidating precincts with more than 1,000 voters, a
number that includes those who vote by mail.
In an effort to encourage early voting, Colter said, the county will open
several locations on the Saturday and Sunday before the Nov. 4 where voters
can drop off their absentee ballots.
Through a technicality in vote counting procedure, the absentee ballots
received on Nov. 4 at the county elections office -- either by mail or dropped
off at the polls -- are not counted until weeks after election night when
officials conduct the official vote tally for the state.
All absentee ballots received before election day are the first votes
counted, a procedure that election workers begin immediately upon closure of
polling places. Absentees also are the first results released on election
``If you to make sure that your absentee ballot gets counted on election
night, we encourage voters to get them in before election day,'' Colter said.
Atkinson said voters who treasure the ``I Voted'' stickers, usually
obtained only at the polls, will now find them in their absentee ballots.
``Hopefully, getting that sticker in the mail removes the last obstacle to
procrastinate on voting until election day,'' Atkinson said.
Index Terms: ELECTION CAMPAIGN
Record Number: 0810060166
Copyright (c) 2008 The Press Democrat ( Santa Rosa, CA)