Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the '2008 presidential primary' Category

Two counties running low on ballots

A half-dozen Contra Costa County voting precincts are running low on Democratic ballots, prompting county election officials to start printing more copies.

Alameda County is also reporting shortages of Democratic ballots in some precincts.

An apparently high number of decline-to-state voters electing to vote in the Democratic primary is tapping into the supply, said Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir said.

The county started printing extra Democratic ballots within the past hour and also has extra mail-in ballots that would work if necessary.

“In order for this to happen, it takes an extraordinary voter turn-out,” he said.

The shortfall is especially alarming given the relatively early hour. Typically, one-third of voters visit the polls before 4 p.m., while the bulk vote after work and into the evening.

The county supplies each of its 800-plus precincts with more than enough ballots to accommodate every registered member of each of the political parties plus the nonpartisan or decline to state voters.

“I don’t quite understand it yet,” Weir said. “I’m still trying to figure it out. There may be a targeted get-out-the-vote effort in this area or just high turnout.”

Alameda County has an ample supply of ballots, said spokesman Guy Ashley.

“We are driving the ballots out to the precincts where we have had shortages,” Ashley said. “I just think we’re having very high turnout.”

In a related development, Weir said Contra Costa pollworkers incorrectly refused to supply at least two decline to state voters with Democratic ballots. In California, only the Republican Party bars non-members from participating in its presidential primary.

“We immediately called the inspectors and later sent out rovers to re-inspect the precincts and make sure that we were providing the correct information,” Weir said. “We haven’t received any more calls, so we think we have the problem solved.”

Alameda County has also struggled with confusion over which voters are permitted to vote in what party’s primary.

Advocates for Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama are showing up at polling places to inform decline-to-state voters of their option to vote in the Democratic primary and have “created a few tense situations,” Ashley said.

Posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

Contra Costa running short on ballots

A half-dozen Contra Costa County voting precincts are running low on Democratic ballots, prompting county election officials to start printing more copies.

An apparently high number of decline-to-state voters electing to vote in the Democratic primary is tapping into the supply, said Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir said.

The county started printing extra Democratic ballots within the past hour and also has extra mail-in ballots that would work if necessary.

“In order for this to happen, it takes an extraordinary voter turn-out,” he said.

The shortfall is especially alarming given the relatively early hour. Typically, one-third of voters visit the polls before 4 p.m., while the bulk vote after work and into the evening.

The county supplies each of its 800-plus precincts with more than enough ballots to accommodate every registered member of each of the political parties plus the nonpartisan or decline to state voters.

“I don’t quite understand it yet,” Weir said. “I’m still trying to figure it out. There may be a targeted get-out-the-vote effort in this area or just high turnout.”

In a related development, Weir said Contra Costa pollworkers incorrectly refused to supply at least two decline to state voters with Democratic ballots. In California, only the Republican Party bars non-members from participating in its presidential primary.

“We immediately called the inspectors and later sent out rovers to re-inspect the precincts and make sure that we were providing the correct information,” Weir said. “We haven’t received any more calls, so we think we have the problem solved.”

Posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

Contra Costa finds enough pollworkers … barely

Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir almost had to spend Election Day as a pollworker.

But as of late last night, he had eked out enough folks willing to work the polls today. His office had dramatically increased the number of polling places for this election after consolidations of last year created problems for some voters.

In preparation for a possible stint in a precinct, Weir said he “took full (precinct inspector) training last night and cued up for my precinct box.  I was last in line and the last box went to the person in front of me! ”

He’s already worried about the June 3 election and says he may have to consolidate in areas where people cast their votes by mail in higher percentages and pollworker recruitment fell short.

Posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

Will Obama win California?

A reader sent in this analysis: What do you think?

If the last seriously contested California Democratic presidential primary elections are any indication, Senator Barack Obama will be the winner today. California Democrats tend to back the “change candidate” or “new face”:

In 1972, Sen. George McGovern defeated former Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

In 1980, Sen. Ted Kennedy (44.8%) defeated President Jimmy Carter (37.6%).

In 1984, Sen. Gary Hart (38.9%) defeated former Vice President Walter Mondale (35.3%).

In 1992, Gov. Bill Clinton (47.5%) defeated former Gov. Jerry Brown (40.2%).

Posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

Election Night events abound

If you want to party Tuesday night with like-minded Republicans or Democrats as the election returns roll in, there are plenty of opportunities in the East Bay for political companionship.

Here’s a list:

EAST BAY DEMOCRATS will meet at the Pyramid Ale House, 1410 Locust Street in Walnut Creek starting at 4 p.m. Supporters of all Democratic candidates are welcome.

SUPPORTERS OF GOP candidate and Ariz. Sen. John McCain will watch election results together at the Hop Yard Restaurant and Pub, 3015-H Hopyard Road, in Pleasanton starting at 7:30 p.m. RSVP to Jeff Elfont at 925-426-9600.

SUPPORTERS OF GOP candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will gather at PJ Livingston Co., 7060 Koll Center Parkway, No. 334, in Pleasanton starting at 6 p.m.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY will have a returns-watch party for members of the Central Committee at the home of county Chairman Tom Del Beccaro. Call 925-930-9551 for details.

CALIFORNIA YOUNG DEMOCRATS meet at Jillian’s at the Metreon, 101 4th Street/Mission Street, San Francisco, 6 p.m.-11 p.m.

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE MIKE GRAVEL will be at Spud’s Pizza, 3290 Adeline (@ Alcatraz) in Berkeley from 6-9 p.m. (He’s the only actual candidate expected to be in California on election night. Check out my colleague Josh Richman’s blog entry on Gravel’s visit here.)

AN ELECTION NIGHT PARTY FOR supporters of Democratic candidate Barack Obama, an Illinois senator, starts at 8 p.m. at the Fairmont Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, 950 Mason St., San Francisco.

IF YOU PREFER A MORE academic atmosphere, the UC-Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies will host a political junkies party starting at 5 p.m. at 109 Moses Hall in the institute’s library. Get the early returns from the East Coast, hear leading political commentators dissect the battle for the nomination and then wait for the California totals. An election night panel of experts will speak at 7 p.m., including: David Karol, assistant professor of political science; Ted Lempert, former member of California Assembly and current UC-Berkeley lecturer; and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders.

Posted on Monday, February 4th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | 10 Comments »

Sheriff Rupf to man a polling place

Contra Costa County has been so deperate for pollworkers that Sheriff Warren Rupf has volunteered to man a precinct.

Better behave yourself when you go to your polling place on Tuesday.

You never know who is checking those signatures!

Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

Weir irons out election wrinkles

Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters Steve Weir lets nothing stand between him and democracy. Not even wrinkles.

After a piece of equipment left a nasty crease in a batch of mail-in ballots last week, they wouldn’t feed through the optical scanners that record the votes.

Weir scratched his head until someone asked, “Have you tried ironing them?”

He hadn’t thought of that.

So, he went out and bought himself a $14.99 Perfection iron.

“The best setting is no-steam, right below the wool and just above cotton,” Weir said. “I put the ballot between two pieces of paper and iron it. I’ve been ironing for three days.”

But does Weir do shirts?

No, we asked.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Photo by Dan Honda/Contra Costa Times

Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

Check out debate videos

I had the great pleasure of hosting two groups of undecided voters on Wednesday and Thursday nights at the Contra Costa Times to watch the two CNN-sponsored presidential debates.

My guests were articulate, thoughtful and well-spoken and I thank them for spending an evening sitting in a conference room with me instead of at home on their much more comfortable couches. (We did provide free food, at least!)

Click here to read the story about the Republican debate and click here to watch a video of their responses here.

Click here to read the story about the Democratic debate and click here to watch a video of their responses here.

Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

Schwarzenegger endorses McCain

We’ve been expecting it but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has done it. He officially endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain in the presidential GOP primary.

The governor offered a hint yesterday when he said that two of his friends were seeking the presidency. But New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani dropped out after a dismal showing in Florida on Tuesday despite spending millions of dollars campaigning there.

Schwarzenegger’s endorsement is a big boost for McCain as he rolls into Tsunami Tuesday and primary elections in more than 20 states.

On the other hand, the governor’s nod won’t endear McCain to diehard California conservatives who view both men as too moderate on issues such as immigration and global climate change. The California Republican Party has also barred independents from voting in its primary, which could hurt McCain.

Here’s what Schwarzenegger said in a release sent out a few minutes ago:

“I am endorsing Senator McCain to be the next President of the United States because I am interested in a great future and I think Senator McCain has proven over and over again that he can reach across the aisle to get things done,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “He has also crusaded to end wasteful spending in Washington, which is so important.”

And John McCain is a crusader with a great vision for protecting the environment, while simultaneously protecting the economy. He has incredible credentials on national security and, of course, he is a fantastic public servant. He is a great American hero and an extraordinary leader.”

John McCain thanked Governor Schwarzenegger for his support, stating, “I am honored to have the support of my friend Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am very proud that Governor Schwarzenegger has taken the lead in California to protect our environment, an important priority for our nation and the world. I thank him for his leadership. I thank him for being a great American success story. This is a story that is an inspiration not only to young citizens here in California, but all over America and the world. He came to this country without very much, except his strengths, his talents and his ambition.

“And he is now the governor of the largest state in America, and I am proud to be in his company. I know that he serves as a role model and a guide to millions of Americans and people throughout the world. And that is why I am doubly honored by his endorsement of my candidacy and thankful for his help on the road to the presidency of the United States.”

Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

California counties predict slow returns Tuesday

Top California election officials predict election returns will be delayed Tuesday in the wake of Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s decertification of election equipment in some counties.

Those delays could be even worse in June and November, they said, which have far more contests to count.

This is the classic tug-of-war that election officials face on Election Night: Fast results vs. trusted results.

Activists want paper-based ballots and oppose electronic voting machines on the grounds that clever hackers could hijack election outcomes. But many election officials have argued that Bowen went overboard and instituted reforms with little or no proof of voter fraud.

Bowen spokeswoman Kate Folmar said the secretary has every confidence that California county election officials will conduct a professional and accurate election. Changes in election equipment law impacted 21 of the state’s 58 counties.

(As a side note, I laughed at the quote from Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir about how numbers won’t be ready until early Wednesday morning. Does that mean I’ve been working for no reason in the past until the wee hours of the morning reporting on election results?)

Here’s what a press release sent a few minutes ago from the California State Association of Counties said:

SACRAMENTO – California’s county election officials are warning that the state’s election results will be delayed, despite bulking up on staff and volunteers needed to carry out the February 5th Primary Election – a result of actions taken by the Secretary of State last year.

“Counties are well prepared to conduct this election, and report results as soon as they become available,” said CSAC Executive Director Paul McIntosh. “However, because the Secretary of State decertified many counties’ electronic voting systems just six months ago, election officials have been scrambling to change election-day procedures for counting votes. Even with the sizeable number of additional volunteers who work tirelessly in precincts throughout the state, the process will take significantly longer this year.”

In addition, with close to 50 percent of the expected vote to be cast by mail, between 1 and 2 million ballots cast in this election will not be reported in election night totals. And, in any close race, it will take one to two weeks to have most of these ballots included in updated totals, according to elections officials.

“With the changes the Secretary of State has put into place, the fact is that it’s going to take us longer to get votes counted,” said Rich Gordon, CSAC President and a San Mateo County Supervisor. “We realize that California is a pivotal state in this election, and all eyes will be on our numbers, but, the fairness and accuracy of the election remains our primary concern. So, while our reporting may be delayed, we want to ensure that our results are correct.”

There are approximately 25,000 precincts throughout the state’s 58 counties, and about 16 million registered voters in the state. Counties need to recruit an estimated 100,000 poll workers across the state for this election, including more than 24,000 in Los Angeles County alone. The estimated statewide cost for counties to administer the February election is $110 million. Governor Schwarzenegger vowed to pay counties for these costs when he signed the law creating this extra election, although there is no mention of it in his January budget proposal.

“There are very few contests on the February ballot, which will help expedite the counting process,” said Steve Weir, Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder and president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials. “However, we are still looking at early Wednesday morning before we’ll have our numbers ready. This does not bode well for the upcoming elections in June and November, when the number of contests will be substantially higher.”For more information, please visit the Elections section of the CSAC Web site: www.csac.counties.org/default.asp?id=301.

Posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »