On Friday, Yolo County Elections Office workers started processing — but not counting — completed Measure C ballots that have been sent in by voters.
Measure C is the five-year parcel tax proposed by the Davis school district. Two-thirds of those voting must approve Measure C if it is to pass. The measure, which essentially renews two expiring taxes (Measures Q and W), would levy an annual tax of $320 per single-family home and $150 per apartment unit. It would expire in June 2017.
Some 11,651 ballots have been returned by voters so far (out of 42,854 ballots sent out by the Elections Office to Davis-area voters). This includes slightly fewer than 11,000 ballots that were mailed to the Elections Office and another 700-some ballots returned to the Elections Office via the specially marked drop box at the Stephens Branch Library in Davis.
Davis-area voters have until March 6 to return their ballots to the Elections Office. No postage is needed to return a ballot by mail, as long as the special envelope that came with the ballot is used.
Marlene Marcich, supervising election technician, advised that after Tuesday, it would be best for voters to deposit ballots in the specially marked drop box at either the Davis library, 315 E. 14th St., or the Yolo County Elections Office, 625 Court St., Room B-05, Woodland.
Voters who have questions or need a replacement ballot because they spoiled the original ballot sent to them, may call the Elections office at (530) 666-8133, or check the Elections Office website at www.yoloelections.org. Voters also can use the Elections Office website to confirmed that their mailed-in ballot has been received and processed by Elections Office staff.
On Friday, Marcich and her staff went through a repetitive process, which they will perform each weekday between now and March 6.
“The envelopes sent by voters containing ballots come into our office,” Marcich said. “We scan the bar code, then we check the signature — by hand — against the signature on the voter registration card, which is on file. Then I bring them back here, and my staff puts them in consolidated precinct order — Consolidated Precinct 1, Consolidated Precinct 2, and so on. There are 48 precincts total for the Measure C election.”
As the Elections Office staff processes the ballots, each one is examined to make sure there are no marks on the bar code, no tears in the paper, no coffee spills on the ballot, etc. The ballots are then put in a sealed bag, with the processing technician’s initials on the bag, and the bag is then securely stored.
Starting on Monday or Tuesday, the Elections Office staff will start scanning the processed ballots. Tom Stanionis, chief of staff at the Elections Office, said that “When each ballot is scanned, we check for overvotes and undervotes.” (In the case of Measure C, an overvote would be a ballot on which the “Yes” and “No” boxes are both filled in; an undervote would be a ballot on which neither the “Yes” or “No” box is filled in.)
“Then we electronically store what are called ‘cast vote records,’ ” Stanionis continued. “These are individual records of each cast vote. We save those electronically to the mobile ballot box.”
“And then, on March 6 at 8 p.m. — election night — we take those mobile ballot box cards, and we have the computer tally the vote records from the cards,” Stanionis said.
As the processing of ballots began on Friday morning, this reporter and a photographer were present, as well as two members of the Yolo County Grand Jury.
“People can come and watch us process the ballots — we welcome them,” Marcich said. “You can just come to the front counter at the Elections Office and say ‘I’d like to observe the process.’ ”
Visitors sign a register and receive a name tag.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” Marcich added.
Vote processing will take place every weekday through March 6, though on some days the vote processing may not take all day, depending on the number of ballots that arrive in the Elections Office that day.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at email@example.com or (530) 747-8055.