CoCo clerk reports ballot errors

Contra Costa County election clerk Steve Weir discovered coding errors on ballots that impact the Dublin-San Ramon and the Central Sanitary service districts.

If you live in the affected districts, you will receive a new ballot pamphlet and if you vote by mail, you will be receiving new ballots. If you vote at the polls, corrected ballots have been prepared.

Here is Weir’s notice:

On October 12th a voter contacted the Elections Office to complain that he was in the Dublin-San Ramon Services District but that contest was not on his ballot. In addition, this voter’s ballot contained the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, a district in which he could not vote. This ballot mistake impacted 412 voters. We issued new (correct) sample ballots and vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots to those voters. Because of this mistake, we checked the boundaries between the Central Sanitary District and the Dublin-San Ramon Services District.

On Friday, October 22nd, we received a complaint from a voter that he was in the Central Sanitary District but that contest was not on his ballot. That day, and over the weekend, we conducted a complete review of the Central Sanitary District to determine if other mistakes had been made. We found that nine precincts were mis-coded involving the Central Sanitary District.

New sample ballots (and the candidate guide) are being prepared for mailing today. For those voters who vote by mail, new VBM ballots are being prepared and will be mailed most likely on Tuesday, October 26th. Instructions will be included in both mailings.

Correct ballots will be at the polls for voters who vote at the polls on Election Day. Vote-by-mail voters will be instructed to vote the new VBM ballot. Vote-by-mail voters will also be told that we will hold all unopened ballots for the impacted precincts. If VBM voters vote the second ballot, we ask that they vote the entire ballot (all contests). If/when we receive the replacement ballot, we will spoil (not open) the first ballot. If a VBM voter chooses not to return the replacement ballot, we will open and count the first ballot.

Three impacted voting precincts (Alamo, Danville and Pleasant Hill) have 2,720 voters (1,333 vote-by-mail voters and 1,387 precinct voters). Three all-mail-ballot precincts (Alamo, Danville and Martinez) have 143 voters.

In addition, we have three all-mail-ballot precincts in Martinez with 61 voters who received ballots with this contest but are not in the district. When tallying any of those votes, we will not count that contest if the voter cast a ballot in that contest. All other contests on the ballot will be counted.

This is clearly an Elections Office mistake, and I apologize to our voters. We will review our coding and double-checking procedures for future elections. This is especially important as we face reapportionment in 2011 when many Federal, State and local boundaries will be changed.

Stephen L. Weir

Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder


Hoffmeister bows out of CoCo supes race





Concord Councilwoman Laura Hoffmeister will not run for Contra Costa County supervisor and will instead endorse candidate and Pleasant Hill Mayor Karen Mitchoff.

Hoffmeister is expected to make the official announcement tonight at a Mitchoff fund-raiser.

Mitchoff hopes to succeed incumbent Supervisor Susan Bonilla of Concord, who is leaving after one term and running for state Assembly in District 11.

The longtime Concord councilwoman’s departure is a major boost to Mitchoff’s chances. Hoffmeister is a popular, well-known official from the largest town in the supervisor district.

Hoffmeister and Mitchoff met for about an hour Wednesday night to talk about city-to-city issues and the Concord official informed her colleague about her intent to stay out of the supervisor contest.

Reached by phone, Mitchoff said it was Hoffmeister’s prerogative to make an her own announcement and she would wait for her fellow councilmember to speak publicly on the issue.

I put in a call to Hoffmeister but have not yet heard back from her.



The other declared candidate is Central Sanitary District board member Mike McGill.

The candidate nomination filing period closes March 17. (The period remains open an extra five days beyond the March 12 deadline because the incumbent is not seeking re-election.)


Hoffmeister adds her name to supervisor list

Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister

Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister

Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister says she is 99.9 percent sure she will run for Contra Costa County supervisor in 2010. She has her eye on the District IV seat expected to open when Supervisor Susan Bonilla runs for the Assembly next year.

She expects to make a formal announcement in a couple of weeks.

“I need to make sure the decision fits with some issues in my personal life first, but I am very close,” Hoffmeister told me Thursday night at the Contra Costa Mayors Conference in San Ramon.

If Hoffmeister runs, it sets up a showdown between her and Concord Councilwoman Helen Allen, who declared herself a candidate on Wednesday.

Pleasant Hill Councilwoman Karen Mitchoff has announced her candidacy months ago and Contra Costa Central Sanitary District board member Mike McGill has said he is seriously looking at the seat, too.

The 48-year-old Concord mayor — it’s a rotating assignment among the councilmembers — told me she wants to put to work at the county the lessons she has learned while serving the past 12 years on the council.

Concord, of course, is the major player in the District IV race. It’s the largest city and it has provided the district’s last two supervisors including Bonilla and Mark DeSaulnier, who is now a state senator.

Allen and Hoffmeister each have substantial name identification in Concord. Some folks are expressed serious doubt that 69-year-old Allen is serious. After all, she withdrew from the 2006 City Council race but didn’t make the decision until it was too late to pull her name from the ballot and she was elected anyway.

But Allen insists she will run no matter what Hoffmeister decides.

“I don’t feel entitled to run, but I have paid my my dues and I have made up my mind,” Allen said.

Here’s an interesting sidenote to all this: Three members of the Concord City Council could be running for new offices next year.

Councilman Mark Peterson has announced he is running for District Attorney but he is running from a safe seat. His council term doesn’t end until 2012.

The terms of Hoffmeister and Allen both end in 2010, which means they must give up their council seats in order to run for county supervisor.

The prospect of two open seats could attract a substantial number folks interested serving on the Concord City Council. And on and on and on it goes ….