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Mail Ballots For The March Primary Begin Arriving This Week

 February 4, 2020 at 10:13 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 The Iowa caucuses turned out to be a mess, which makes the California primary on super Tuesday next month, even more important than the democratic presidential race. But it's not only that national race being decided in San Diego County, there's the city of San Diego's mayor's race, city council seats, County board of supervisors races along with a hotel tax measure to expand the convention center and more on the ballot County registrar voters. Michael WGU is here to tell us how prepared we are for all this voting in California's new early primary. And Michael, welcome to the program. Speaker 2: 00:36 Thanks for having me, Marie. Speaker 1: 00:37 I have to start out by asking you about Iowa. The caucuses fell apart apparently because an app that was supposed to count votes malfunctioned as a registrar voters, somebody who's used to running elections and counting votes. How do you look at this situation? Speaker 2: 00:51 Well, I look at the, the election as in all elections is that anything can happen and so you have to expect the unexpected and uh, certainly that is something that Iowa is feeling today. Uh, with everything that has occurred, occurred there. Not only is it going to be things like a glitch or some type of technology issues, but anything could happen during an election. And I always say that, you know, Murphy's law is as a result of elections is, is because if there's going to be something to happen on election day, it's going to occur and you might as well expect it and prepare for it as much as you can. Speaker 1: 01:26 Are there any lessons California can learn from what happened in Iowa? Speaker 2: 01:30 Yeah, I think there's always going to be lessons learned whenever you hear from other experiences that have occurred. Uh, certainly we are being watchful for, for stuff that's happening in not just in Iowa but any, any other state before it hits California. And um, certainly our primary here in San Diego County as well as in the state is very complex. It only happens four years where the presidential, uh, par, uh, primary occurs and the parties dictate who gets to vote on their respective presidential candidates. And for San Diego County voters, there are 12,560 different variations of the ballot because you have to multiply all of the different party ballot types that we have times that by the total number of qualified political parties. And then you have to multiply it by the total number of federal languages that we have to support that we have to legally provide for an election. So that creates the 12,560 different variations of the ballot. The voter that receives a ballot by mail doesn't see that. But operationally and logistically, it's a very complex system, uh, that has many moving parts to it and you have to monitor all the way through. And that's what we've been doing from day one since the 2016 election, uh, was over. Speaker 1: 02:48 So tell us some of the ways that San Diego County is preparing for the March primary. Speaker 2: 02:53 So a number of different things that we just sent out, all of the sample ballot and voter information, 1.8 million of those went out. There are 415 candidates that are on the ballot across 76 contests. That includes 58 offices and 18 questions that are on the ballot throughout the entire County. There are 1,361 polling places. These are physical polling places that we have to secure. Uh, for election day. There's the 1.3 million mail ballots that we, uh, uh, issued and dropped off at the us postal service. So voters that are mailed out, voters should be receiving those. And what's new about those mail ballots is now it's a prepaid postage, so voters do not have to worry about putting a place in a stamp on the return envelope as well. Uh, as something new that we've are doing for the first time is putting the, I voted sticker inside that Mel bow package, um, as well. So we have a a S a 1,548 precincts that we need to establish for this upcoming election with and need a staff it with 9,000 poll workers in San Diego County, certainly who San Diego County has one of the most complex systems in the country, uh, particularly as large of a County that we have with 1.8 million registered voters. Um, but every elections administrator, like any election officials, I feel for them, uh, just because I know how complex our laws are, uh, throughout the country and every state, every jurisdiction conducts their election a little bit differently. Speaker 1: 04:18 So yeah, as you mentioned, the mail in ballots started going out yesterday. So this process is taking place then the one, there's one thing San Diego's growing, number of no party preference voters should note though, is that they won't get to vote for a presidential candidate in the primary if they don't pick a party. How do you advise no party preference voters at this time? Speaker 2: 04:39 So if you receive a nonpartisan ballot and you still want to crossover to the political parties that are opening up their presidential candidates, again, that's the democratic party, deliberate Tarion party as well as the American independent party that you can contact our office by phone, you can email us or you can fill out an uh, our online application and or you can come to our office as well. Um, so our office, not only did we send out the 1.3 million mail ballots, but that also is the beginning of in-office voting here at our office. So, uh, there are many still choices for voters that are mailed out, voters, uh, to cross over and receive about that they, they want now on election day for nonpartisan voters, if you're planning on going to the polling place, you will make your selections known there. So that is pretty key. And I should say that we've got a couple of weeks before the registration deadline, but it's so key, such a priority that voters to register or re-registered to vote if they need to update their residence, address, their mailing address or their political parties as a set of GED political party. Your preference as a political party member does matter in this election. It could prevent you from voting on the candidates that you wish to vote on. Speaker 1: 05:50 No, there's another aspect to this election. It has to do with conditional voting. This means voters will be able to register to vote and cast a ballot on election day. Are you concerned? This could lead to a long lines like we saw in 2018 Speaker 2: 06:04 I am very concerned with conditional voter registration at a, let me just say a first and foremost is, you know, this is a voter centric policy. This is a policy that was passed by the legislature to ensure that voters had the individuals had the option of still participating in election, which is great in terms of a policy, but in practice if leveraged incorrectly, if leveraged as the measure of the rule of thumb, it could create long lines, which creates a very big disservice for themselves as a individual who wants to register and participate in the election or the person that is standing behind them that is waiting to, to vote. And so we ask all voters, uh, we can't implore enough for all individuals, not just even voters, all individuals registered or not to register or reregistered to vote well in advance of the February 18th deadline and not really act upon this conditional voter registration unless it's absolutely necessary. Speaker 1: 07:05 Tell me about the satellite voting centers. Where will they be located and how soon will they be open? Speaker 2: 07:10 We're establishing for a satellite locations beyond just the registrar voters office for individuals to participate in, register and vote. They will be located in the San Marcos area, the Chula Vista area, the spring Valley area, as well as in the Carmel mountain ranch area. And we will push out the specific information when that time comes. Uh, right now the focus and the message that we want to ensure that is, uh, that voters and non-voters that are eligible to register, uh, know about is there is a deadline coming up. There's a time looming coming up and for them to act and make it really a priority as they do any other aspect of their lives is to really prepare for this election. Speaker 1: 07:54 It is March 3rd, and I want to thank you so much for taking time out and speaking with us today. I've been speaking with County registrar of voters, Michael WGU, Michael, thank you. Thank you.

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The San Diego County Registrar of Voters opened its doors to early voting Monday and sent out 1.3 million mail-in ballots. Also, the ballot packages will, for the first time, include postage-paid return envelopes and "I Voted" stickers.
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