June Primary: After November 2008 snafu, vote-by-mail precincts created

June 02, 2010
Santa Paula News

The June Primary is right around the corner and there’s something new this year for some Santa Paula voters who are now among the 14,000 county residents mandated to vote by mail.

The change was implemented after a November 2008 snafu when incumbent Ofelia De La Torre was running for reelection to the board of the Santa Paula Elementary School District.

De La Torre lost by one vote after poll workers gave out the wrong ballots to an estimated 14 voters who actually lived in the Mupu School District and were ineligible to vote for De La Torre or any SPESD board candidate.

The Santa Paula polling place and precinct was split, with the boundary between the two school districts running through the area.

Former elections head Phil Schmidt said the error couldn’t be traced because ballots are secret, but afterwards the creation of mini-precincts to abolish overlapping polling places were created.

Those who no longer have a polling place and are required to send in their ballots known as vote-by-mail voters who garner free postage.

The Grand Jury urged officials to make such a move in April 2009 when they filed a report on election operations.

The Santa Paula Elementary School District race was the only one where such mix-ups were reported.

Voters now in mini-precincts must cast absentee ballots because they live in precincts with fewer than 250 voters.

The elections office began notifying voters in those precincts by mail more than a month ago.

Affected voters may drop their ballot off at any polling place, mail in their ballots or deliver them in person to the county elections office at the Ventura County Government Center. They may also drop them off at any polling place in the county on Election Day.

An absentee ballot must be mailed in time to meet the June 8 Primary Election 8 p.m. deadline or their vote will not be counted.

If they choose to go drop their vote off at the polls their ballots will be considered provisional and have to be verified before their choices are recorded, which can take days or weeks.

The new vote-by-mail precincts are scattered throughout Ventura County.

Many California voters are continuing to request absentee ballots on their own with the number of those voting by mail rising all the time.

A record 62 percent of voters cast their ballots by mail in the May 19, 2009 Statewide Special Election.

Voters have the option of voting by mail permanently or opting to vote by mail for any particular election in which they don’t want to physically go to the polls. More than 5.8 million Californians are registered as permanent vote-by-mail voters. The last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot was June 1.

If interested in obtaining a mail-in ballot for the November election, voters can visit the Ventura County elections official’s web site.


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