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Front-row seats to history

Unlike Warren Slocum, who was eaten up and spit out on Tuesday by the Purple Tunnel of Doom, Anna Eshoo had seats for President Barack Obama’s inauguration that were just fine, thank you very much. (Slocum’s experience was the subject of Saturday’s print edition of The Insider.)

The congresswoman was seated up on the rostrum, right along the aisle by the door from which Obama and everyone else emerged from the Capitol. We asked her Friday for her impressions from that day.

“For me, I was overwhelmed by standing so close to history,” Eshoo said.

She said the “excitement was palpable,” whether you were up on rostrum, watching on television or standing among the millions of people gathered on the Mall. She was also struck by the absolute silence that seemed to prevail during Obama’s speech.

She said she was impressed by the speech itself, as was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I think it was a very important speech,” she said. “The Speaker told all of us the following day that everyone should have a copy of the speech and read it and reread it.”

On Thursday, Eshoo and her colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee spent more than 12 hours writing up its portion of the $825 billion stimulus package, writing out the language for provisions having to do with health care, energy and telecommunications.

She said she’s confident that, despite Republican opposition to the bill, there “will be bipartisan support for it when the vote is finally taken.” She said numerous Republican amendments were incorporated into the bill and pointed to the $275 million in tax cuts included in the package.

Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009
Under: Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Democratic Party, Elections Office, San Mateo County, Warren Slocum | No Comments »

Where’s Warren?

It turns out that county elections chief Warren Slocum wasn’t able to post as many updates as he would have liked to his Twitter site yesterday because his arms were pinned to his sides by the massive crowd that gathered for President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Slocum recounted his nightmarish experience in Washington on his blog.

“I can assure you that (there)were unhappy people and that everything was not perfect,” he wrote. “There was a dark side to the inauguration.”

Slocum emphasized that this visit to Washington was still worthwhile, but he was plenty critical of the people who dreamt up Tuesday’s crowd-management system on the Mall. It’s a good read, if you’ve got a few minutes.

Posted on Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
Under: Aaron Kinney, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Elections Office, San Mateo County, Warren Slocum | No Comments »

Imagine there’s no Diebold

Warren Slocum, San Mateo County’s chief elections officer, participated in a national conference earlier this month in Washington, D.C., on America’s system of voting.

The three-day conference was put on by the Pew Center on the States and the JEHT Foundation with the goal of brainstorming solutions to common problems, from public wariness of electronic voting machines to long lines at the polls.

For Slocum, it was a chance to get creative, as he participated in a Dec. 9 panel discussion titled, “Imagine we could start over: How would you design an election system?”

Slocum was joined on that panel by half-a-dozen elections officials, including the secretaries of state for Kentucky and Missouri. The conference itself was attended by a wide range of people, from academics to congressional staffers.

One of the subjects Slocum’s panel touched on was universal voter registration. Jurisdictions throughout the country handle registration differently, so people in various states and counties fall through the cracks in different ways.

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Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2008
Under: Aaron Kinney, Elections Office, Jerry Hill, San Mateo County, Warren Slocum | No Comments »

Democrats say: Put it to a vote!

The San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee has adopted a resolution urging the county to hold an open election to fill the seat of departing Supervisor Jerry Hill, who is off to Sacramento, rather than make an appointment.

“The person who is elected or appointed to fill Jerry Hill’s seat will likely remain on the (Board of Supervisors) until he or she is termed out in 2022,” committee member Nick Akers, author of the resolution, said in a statement.

“Our county’s at-large system for electing supervisors gives a strong advantage to incumbents,” Akers continued. “It has been nearly three decades since a supervisor running for re-election has been defeated. The people of San Mateo County should be given the opportunity to fill this open seat.”

Committee members voted “overwhelmingly” on Nov. 20 in favor of the resolution for an election. They’re looking to peg a special county election to an anticipated special statewide election in June 2009.

Not that the San Mateo County government has a reputation for being clubby and nontransparent — cough, cough — but the Insider agrees with local Democrats that holding an election to fill the seat of Assemblyman Hill, irrespective of the cost, would be the democratic thing to do.

Posted on Monday, December 1st, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Local Races, Aaron Kinney, Assembly, Board of Supervisors, Democratic Party, Elections Office, Gene Mullin, Jerry Hill, Political Campaigns, San Mateo County, Warren Slocum | No Comments »

Elections Office ready to heed Bowen’s call

After much examination, San Mateo County Chief Elections Officer Warren Slocum has determined his office will be able to meet California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s demands for stepping up the security and auditing processes for the county’s e-voting machines before the next elections.

On Aug. 3, Bowen, the state’s top election official, rendered an edict that scaled back the use of most electronic voting machines in the state, citing security concerns and vulnerability to hackers. Her ruling came eight weeks after computer scientists from the University of California conducted an eight-week “top-to-bottom review” behind closed doors. Forty six of the state’s 58 counties were affected.

Hart InterCivic eSlate voting machine

However, her decision allows for the continued use of San Mateo’s system, Hart InterCivic’s eSlates (shown above by Slocum), provided that some additional security and post-election auditing measures are put in place in the next 30 to 60 days.

“I am pleased to state that our Elections Office and its vendor, Hart InterCivic, will be able to comply with all of the secretary’s mitigations within the designated timeframe,” Slocum wrote in a memo Monday to the county Board of Supervisors. “When implemented, our layered security approach will help ensure that San Mateo County’s voting devices are secure from the kind of tampering that went on in that room in Sacramento where computer scientists had unfettered access to the voting devices.”

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Posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2007
Under: Debra Bowen, San Mateo County, Warren Slocum | 1 Comment »