UPDATE 4:51 P.M. Gov. Schwarzenegger confirmed in an updated order that no results in the 10th or 51st Congressional district special elections will be released until after 10 p.m., when voting on the fire lines closes. LAV.
A gubernatorial order intended to allow 10th Congressional District voters working on the front lines of the fires in Southern California to vote from their field locations could hold up the release of all election results until 10 p.m.
State election law says that no results may be released until all polls have closed.
Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir said he and others have asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to modify his order in such a way that extending the opportunity to vote for the folks on the front lines would not preclude the release of results.
As of 1 p.m., Weir was still waiting for a decision.
“We believe the governor can modify his order and allow us to release results prior to 10 p.m., but we are waiting to hear from his office,” Weir said. “In previous instances where the polls have remained open past 8 p.m., however, judges have ordered us to hold off on the release of results until all polls have closed.”
Registrars typically release right after 8 p.m. the vote counts of ballots they have received in the mail.
Election officials are allowed to scan mail-in ballots prior to the close of polls but cannot tally them until after 8 p.m. They further release results to their online sites and to those waiting in their offices as the numbers become available.
Results of the votes by mail are expected to comprise 70 percent or more of all the votes cast today. Weir reported very light traffic at the polls this morning.
The governor’s order covers voters in the 10th and 51st special elections being held today.
First responders on the front lines in one of six Southern California counties would be allowed to cast votes from their emergency command centers until 10 p.m. tonight.
It’s unclear how many, if any, first responders working on these fires are residents of the two Congressional District.
Weir said five Contra Costa agencies have sent 35 personnel to help fight the Los Angeles-area fires but it is unclear if any live in the 10th District.
Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Executive Order Ensuring First Responders are Able to Vote in Special Elections
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today issued an executive order ensuring that eligible firefighters and emergency personnel are able to vote in California’s 10th Congressional District and its 51st Assembly District special election on September 1.
“California’s first responders work daily to protect our lives and our property,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “They are defending us on the front lines of these devastating fires and we must take this action to ensure that these brave men and women are able to cast their vote in tomorrow’s special elections.”
The full text of the Executive Order is below:
EXECUTIVE ORDER S-17-09
WHEREAS there are wildfires burning throughout the State of California, with major fires burning in the counties of Los Angeles, Mariposa, Monterey, Placer, Riverside, and San Bernardino; and
WHEREAS I and the Lieutenant Governor have recently proclaimed a State of Emergency to exist in the counties of Los Angeles, Mariposa, Monterey, and Placer; and
WHEREAS a number of counties are providing mutual aid to help combat these fires, and firefighters and other emergency workers from throughout the State are responding to these fires, and therefore are away from their homes; and
WHEREAS a special election will be held on September 1, 2009 in California’s 10th Congressional District and its 51st Assembly District; and
WHEREAS because of these fires, firefighters and emergency workers in the six counties listed above and in counties providing mutual aid, are away from their polling places and it may be difficult or impossible for these individuals to vote in these elections.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the State of California, including Government Code section 8571, hereby issue the following orders:
1. Operation of Elections Code sections 3009, 3011, 3017, 3021, 14212, and 14279 is temporarily suspended with respect to any September 1, 2009 special election in the State, for all duly-eligible voters who are public safety workers, emergency service workers or other persons officially engaged in responding to the fires described above. This suspension shall apply to any such voter who is from the above-listed counties or from any county that is providing mutual aid to help combat these fires.
2. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, elections officials in the above-referenced counties shall, upon demand, issue a provisional ballot to any person described in paragraph one permitting that person to vote on all measures appearing on any September 1, 2009 special election ballot. Ballots shall be made available at the office of the registrar of voters in the six affected counties, as well as the emergency incident bases in those counties. Upon return of such ballot by the voter by the close of the polls on September 1, 2009, the elections official shall immediately transmit for processing said ballot to the elections official in the county where the voter is registered to vote.
3. The California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA), the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFIRE), and registrars of voters in the six affected counties shall work together and take necessary steps to get ballots to the emergency incident bases in the six affected counties. The registrars of voters in the counties covering California’s 10th Congressional District and its 51st Assembly District shall be responsible for ensuring that a facsimile or other copy of the ballots is available at the office of the registrar of voters in each of the six affected counties and at the emergency incident bases in those counties.
4. The Secretary of State shall, in conjunction with local elections officials, prescribe the procedures for carrying out the provisions of this Order.
This Order is not intended to, and does not, create any rights or benefits, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, against the State of California, its agencies, departments, entities, officers, employees, or any other person.
I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this Order be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given to this Order.