Kim Alexander from the California Voter Foundation goes over the essential details and changes to the process on the final day of voter registration in California. (listen to segment)
Currently, the terms of gubernatorial debates and whether or not they happen are largely dictated by the front-runner. Conventional wisdom says debates are more likely to help the challenger or the candidate who is behind in the polls.
It's true there were plenty of debates before the June primary, including a televised debate in San Jose with the six top-polling candidates for governor. But that's not the same as a one-on-one matchup, where it's harder to skate under the radar.
"The most important thing about debates is that it gets people on the record making commitments before they’re elected," said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation. "It isn’t so much that every registered voter will watch the debate, but rather you have a public record of what they say they'll do if they win."
While debates might not increase voter turnout, at least they would help publicize the fact that an election is happening and who's running, Alexander said. (full story)
Retired high school teacher and Monrovia resident Stephen McCarthy is the kind of careful, consistent responsible voter get-out-the-vote activists dream about.
“I have never missed an election going back to when I had to stamp a paper ballot in 1972, and I have never missed an election since,” Murphy told KCRW recently.
So you can imagine how McCarthy felt, when on primary election day in June, workers at his local polling place told him that both his and his wife’s names weren’t on official voter rosters.
“I was appalled,” said McCarthy. “I was shocked. I was angry.”
McCarthy and his wife were allowed to vote using provisional ballots that get counted after the election, but it was a huge frustration for them. And the McCarthys weren’t the only voters having troubles on Election Day in June.
Elections officials try to correct initial problems with pilot program
Some California election officials announced Wednesday changes to correct the initial problems with the experimental vote-by-mail system used during the June primary.
Statewide, more than 7 million Californians -- 37.5 percent of California's registered voters -- voted in the June primary. Five counties -- Sacramento, Nevada, Napa, Madera and San Mateo -- used the new vote-by-mail system designed to improve participation. Of those only one, Nevada County, experienced a turnout above 50 percent during the primary.
The new system also created some voter confusion.
Dozens of people eager to vote last month at McKinley Library in Sacramento were surprised to find the doors closed, according to voter watchdog, Kim Alexander, the president and founder of California Voter Foundation.
Sacramento County is switching to a “voter center” model for today’s election, but some people are concerned the change may confuse voters.
In the past, voters had to go to their specific precinct to vote in an election. Now, the county has adopted a new way, where people can go to any voting center to cast their ballot.
This model was tested in San Mateo County three years ago. Jim Irizarry, that county’s assistant chief elections officer, says the system was a tremendous success.
“It increased voter participation, it lowered election cost for the participating jurisdictions. It was an efficient election to administer,” Irizarry said. He added that the returns were processed quickly and they were able to determine the winner of the election clearly.
A line of voters stood Tuesday morning in front of the McKinley Library in East Sacramento waiting for it to open.
The library, a longtime polling place, has been relegated to a dropbox location as part of a new system approved by state legislators in 2016.
Unlike polling places or the new vote centers, dropbox locations are only open during regular office or business hours. Since McKinley Library doesn't open until noon on Tuesdays, that also meant voters couldn't drop off ballots until that hour.
"People are in the habit of voting the way they voted last time," said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the California Voter Foundation.
Data analytics firm says this is normal: "It's the way that campaigns are run."
On Tuesday, polls will be open to voters in eight states, including California, which holds gubernatorial primaries among many other national, state, and local elections.
Under California law (Section 2194 of the Election Code), voter data (name, address, phone, age, party affiliation) is supposed to be "confidential and shall not appear on any computer terminal... or other medium routinely available to the public."
However, there's a big exception to that law: this data can be made available to political campaigns, including companies that provide digital analysis services to campaigns. In other words, candidates and their contractors can get voter data, but there's little definition in the law about how those parties are required to be custodians of that data and how that data ought to be secured.
California's nontraditional nonpartisan primary system could negatively affect Democrats running for the House and Republicans running in the state's races for governor and senator.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Tuesday's primary election in California has political watchers riveted not just because of what's on the ballot but also because of the state's unusual primary system - the jungle primary. As Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the state is split on whether or not it's working.
BEN ADLER, BYLINE: It's called the jungle primary for a reason. Republicans are at risk of being shut out of California's races for governor and U.S. Senate on Tuesday, and Democrats could face the same fate in several congressional races seen as crucial to retaking the House all because voters approved Proposition 14 back in 2010.
With Monday’s deadline for registering to vote approaching, Nancy Kops was getting a little anxious. All her friends already had received their mail-in ballots. But although she’s voted in every election since moving to San Jose 10 years ago, her ballot still hadn’t come.
The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters office said Friday that an employee error resulted in Kops being unregistered to vote.
“This error was caused by a member of our team incorrectly resolving a duplication in registration records,” registrar spokesman Eric Kurhi said.
Kurhi added that “we are not aware of any other voters whose records were canceled in error,” and that the registrar’s office is happy to assist voters to confirm that they are registered to vote.
May 21 is the deadline for registering to vote in the June 5 primary election.
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert is taking to texts to get her message out in her bid for re-election in June.
Schubert for two months has sought the support of potential voters via messages that pop up on cellphones. Text messaging, said Schubert campaign manager David Gilliard, is just “another tool in the tool box” of a political campaign. Real Justice, which supports Schubert's challenger Noah Phillips, also targets potential voters via texts, said Vince Duffy, Phillips' campaign manager.
Campaign texts, though not new, are part of a growing base of media strategies raising concerns among voting rights and privacy advocates. Campaigns, they say, have access to an increasing amount of voters' personal information from which to build detailed profiles of potential voters.