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Vu On Voting: Registrar On Where, When and How, San Diego COVID-19 Data Funneled Through Patchwork Of Overlapping Reporting Networks, Election-Themed Art To See In San Diego This Weekend

 October 2, 2020 at 2:00 PM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The Trump COVID diagnosis comes as voting is about to begin in California. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS day edition. Speaker 2: 00:24 [inaudible] Speaker 1: 00:24 A series of reports begin on how COVID data is compiled. Speaker 2: 00:28 I wouldn't say I'm confident down to the last decimal point, but pretty close Speaker 1: 00:35 Art takes on politics in our weekend preview. So stay with us for midday edition coming up next, Speaker 1: 01:00 The stunning news that president Trump has tested positive for Corona virus puts an added twist into an already to multipurpose election season. And it puts an even sharper focus on how voters can stay safe when casting their ballots. This year, every registered voter in California is about to get a ballot in the mail that they can fill out and return to the registrar in a number of different ways. And in person voting will still be available at polling places around the County. Johnny me to talk about the mechanics of voting in the November election is Michael Vogue, San Diego County, registrar of voters. And Michael, welcome back to the show. Speaker 2: 01:39 Thanks for having me again. Speaker 1: 01:41 Now I've had a number of people ask me, when are we going to get our ballots? Speaker 2: 01:47 Well, voters should start receiving their ballot in their mailbox starting on October 5th. So we are short three days away from that timeframe. Speaker 1: 01:56 Will the ballots come with the usual voter information guide? Speaker 2: 02:01 Actually the sample ballot and voter information pamphlets started going out, uh, last Thursday. And so those will continue to be mailed out until all of the, uh, sample ballot and voter information pamphlets. The local ones are into everyone's hands and into their respective mailbox. Now we also send out 180,000 voters, their sample ballot and voter information pamphlet through email because they signed up to receive their pamphlet electronically. Speaker 1: 02:28 What are the different ways that voters can turn in their mail ballots? Speaker 2: 02:32 There are a number of different ways. Uh, certainly the one that I highly recommend because we are providing a prepaid postage envelope because we have such confidence in the us postal service. Uh, this is not our first go around in terms of the total number of people that vote by mail in our County. We are used to voting by mail here. In fact, if we were not having this pandemic, if the governor didn't issue an executive order that every voter would receive a mail ballot, 70% of the electorate would have already received a mail ballot because they are signed up to be a prevent mail ballot voter. And there are thousands of collection boxes out there that the us postal service serves each respective day. If you don't want to do that, we will have doubled the number of mail ballot drop off locations in this upcoming elections. Speaker 2: 03:17 And they will be open four times as long as compared to the March presidential primary election. Uh, that program will start on October 6th. So, uh, effectively on October 5th, they can actually turn it in to any one of our, uh, mailbox drop off locations. Now, out of those, 126, a mailbox drop off locations, 125 of them are staffed. And then we've got one mail ballot drop-off box that's open 24 seven. And then if you don't want to do any of those starting on October 31st, 235 at super poles locations will be open not just for election day, but they'll be actually opened on October 31st, November 1st, November 2nd. And then also on November 3rd. Speaker 1: 04:01 And for people who might have concerns, because there have been concerns raised about the integrity of how the postal service will deliver the mail in ballots. Voters can actually track their mail in ballots can't they? Speaker 2: 04:14 That is correct. I think what voters are hearing from a national level is making them skeptical about the us postal service. Uh, let me just counteract that, uh, you know, we have a very close, uh, communication and partnership with the us postal service because our voters have preferred to vote by mail and they haven't ever done us wrong in the past. I don't expect them to do any different disco around. Um, we have a new service called where's my ballot. Uh, you can go to our and sign up and subscribe. It's free of charge where you put in your email or your cell phone number, and you can get text messages, emails, or voice calls, or all three of them as to the status of your mail ballot, as it's traveling to you and into your mailbox. And then after you voted, as it's traveling back to our office and when we've received it and accepted the ballot Speaker 1: 05:08 And last but not least, uh, voters can still drop off their mailing ballot at a polling place on election days, right. Speaker 2: 05:14 We will have 235 poles locations throughout the entire County that a voter can drop off their mail ballot and they will be open starting on October 31st through November 3rd. I think that's pretty significant. Number one, we won't have because of this pandemic, nearly 1600 neighborhood polling places. And so we, we have created 235 superpose locations, much larger facilities, um, but they will be open for a four day period as opposed to a one day period. Uh, that is normally traditionally what occurs during a statewide may age or election cycle like we're conducting Speaker 1: 05:52 And can people still do early in person voting at the registrar's office? Speaker 2: 05:58 Uh, yes. So the same day as a voter should start receiving their mail ballot in their mailbox. We will open our office for what is in office early voting for individuals who want to come to our office and, and vote. And as you can imagine, we have, uh, provided a safe and healthy environment for all of our voters. So voters should now expect that there will be plexiglass voters should expect that there will be social distancing requirements. Make sure you bring your mask and wear your mask as w all of these will be a requirement as you enter the building, be ready to wait in a long line. If the turnout is high end, I anticipate that it is a presidential election. And so I anticipate we will have a high turnout in this upcoming election. So that's one of the reasons why we're asking all voters, because they're receiving a mail ballot to vote it and return it back through the us postal service or any of the other options that we've discussed today. Speaker 1: 06:55 When will the registrar's office begin counting mail in ballots? Speaker 2: 07:00 We have the ability to start processing ballots. As soon as we receive it back from the voter before we could verify the signature off of a mail ballot, uh, but we would have to hold onto it until the 14th day prior to the election, while the legislature, the governor stepped in and passed a new law specifically for this election, that allows us to not just signature verify that mail ballot. Um, but also after it's been verified, open it and scan it into our tabulation system. Speaker 1: 07:29 Most people vote by mail as you're expecting them to and drop off their mail in ballot before election day, we should have a pretty good idea of results on election day, at least here in California. Isn't that right? Speaker 2: 07:40 Yes. The earlier that we can get the ballots back from voters, the mail ballots back from voters here, we can verify it and open them up and get them into our tabulation systems. Speaker 1: 07:52 I've been speaking with Michael VU, San Diego County, registrar of voters, someone I'm probably going to be speaking to a great deal in the, in the coming weeks. Thank you so much for talking with us. Thanks so much, Marie, listen for more about president Trump's Corona virus diagnosis coming up on the KPBS round table at 1230. Speaker 3: 08:18 [inaudible] Speaker 1: 08:18 The Corona virus case rate measures. How many new daily positive tests are happening out of every 100,000 San Diego wins, but it also decides if restrictions on businesses are tightened or loosened. So in a series of stories, KPBS health reporter, Taran, mento traces back where that data comes from. Speaker 2: 08:39 Brian has just arrived. John F. Kennedy visited San Diego Speaker 1: 08:43 Two months before his 1963. I see Speaker 3: 08:46 Getting out an alcohol and beer bar Speaker 1: 08:48 Captures his motorcade passing by the 24 hour Redford's restaurant. The community staple has welcomed at diners at all since that Speaker 4: 08:56 Day, but that streak ended in March. Governor Gavin Newsome closed all onsite dining to curb the spread of coronavirus, Speaker 5: 09:04 Beginning on March 16th, we let go of 40 people that was hard Speaker 4: 09:09 Redford's owner. Jeff Kasha was forced to only offer takeout. Kasha has since been stuck in a cycle of reopenings and threatened closings based on the up and down of local Corona virus cases. Speaker 5: 09:21 But in dividers, we have mass, we have gloves, everything sanitized Speaker 4: 09:25 Across California activities like dining in a restaurant or practicing your faith are controlled by Corona virus numbers, KPBS examine the data. That's driving decisions in San Diego and found it's riddled with complexities and caveats. Speaker 6: 09:39 I wouldn't say unconfident down to the last decimal point Speaker 4: 09:43 Through bill Schaffner is the medical director of the national foundation for infectious diseases. He says, these systems can be imperfect, Speaker 6: 09:51 But pretty close and close enough to make reasonable decisions and to assess trends over time. Speaker 4: 10:00 And that system sort of begins with snot. You're going to go about to the mid level of your nose nurse Darcy. The REA walks me through how to shove a swab up my nostril, and you're going to rotate it several times around the wall of your nose. Lab machines will examine the secretion for the SARS Coby to virus. That's what causes COVID-19. And then up the other side, my results were negative, but thousands of snap covered swabs from the noses of San Diego are transported daily to labs at helix lab, and the Hoya, the hours long process to get test results begins with a robot named boots. Actually, he thinks he's bow-ties that Dubbo gives him problems, but the results he and his machine friends uncover are relayed back to local and state decision-makers through a complex and sometimes overlapping reporting network. And it gets a bit wonky. So stick with me. Helix only handles local swabs collected at County testing sites. So vice president, Mark Lauren says they share results with San Diego officials twice. Speaker 6: 11:00 One way is we actually send it back to the operations team. That's gonna contact the patient, Speaker 4: 11:06 The team that tracks the data that controls reopenings that sent by fax, right? Speaker 6: 11:10 It's ancient, but it's also one of the most safe way to pass a HIPAA information. Speaker 4: 11:16 They send it to a state team in Sacramento, but some commercial labs report only to the state, which automatically passes San Diego results onto the County and labs report to the healthcare providers that sent them the test. So they can tell the patients, providers also report confirmed cases to the County. The County declined an interview, but said it staff reviews daily results for any duplicates, but some do slip through still San Diego and Sacramento. Don't always agree on the numbers that may trigger closings. Their calculations didn't match for a bit. Thousands of results were lost in a statewide glitch. And most recently elected County, including supervisor Greg Cox, one of the state to ignore positives among San Diego state university students. Speaker 7: 11:59 We have prepared a letter that I'm signing this afternoon to the governor, asking them to seriously consider discounting or not including the, the approximately 700 cases that we have right now from SDSU students. The governor disagreed you. Can't isolate, uh, as if it's on an Island campus community. That is part of the larger community. So the answer is no Speaker 4: 12:23 Looming closure was avoided because the case rate, even with SDSU positives was below a state threshold, but the back and forth has left. Redford's owner CATIA on edge. Speaker 7: 12:34 We're in our savings. We've overspent. We've made no progress. Speaker 4: 12:39 He worries he can't survive another closure, but the case rate is only announced on Tuesdays. So businesses wait every week to learn if the data is going in the wrong direction and this past week, San Diego, again, narrowly avoided a case rate. The governor considers to hi Taryn mento, KPBS news. You can This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. Can't get your mind off politics, but still want to take in some art and culture this weekend. Well, fortunately we have some election and voting themed art in town, much of it on display outdoors from a powerful dance film series to a woman designed outdoor poster exhibition to Facebook artists in residence. Yes, there is such a thing. Chances are you'll find something to inspire you in between. Checking the news. Joining me is KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dickson Evans with the details and welcome Julia. Speaker 4: 13:42 Hi Maryanne. Thanks for having me. Well, let's start with the, get out the vote poster art series. Tell us about this special exhibition. Yeah, it's something that's been on this place since around mid September. So this is a chance you unwittingly drove or walked past. These works. They're all contemporary nonpartisan poster designs by women artists across the country. The idea is to celebrate the anniversary of the women's right to vote. But, um, many of these posters take a look at broader issues of voting rights. They're on display outside of four different museum and gallery locations across the region that are all part of the new gather collective. There's the downtown museum of contemporary art. And there's also outside of bread and salt and bio Logan displayed on the exterior walls along Julian Avenue. And then at San Diego state's art gallery. And finally at art produce in North park. This was probably my favorite of the installations cause they have so many of them displayed in the windows right there on university Avenue. And art POTUS is also going to be a polling place in the election. Okay. So get Speaker 1: 14:52 Out the vote poster campaign will be on view through election day. It's free and viewable from the sidewalks. And in mural news, we have an unlikely source from some temporary public art. What has the Facebook artist in residency program brought to town? Well, Speaker 4: 15:11 The corporate art programs are nothing new, but I was surprised to find out that not only does Facebook have an artist in residency program, but that it's been around for a few years and it's super active. And this project called voting his voice, um, commissioned emerging artists from across the country to do some temporary mural hangings in 10 select cities. One of which is San Diego and there's five murals around the downtown area. And they're the same across all of the 10 cities. And you can Speaker 1: 15:43 Find the exact addresses for the Facebook artist in residency voting his voice murals on our website. That's Now finally, a local dance. Nonprofit has commissioned a series of powerful short dance films to empower the vote. Tell us about disco riots, move American project. Speaker 4: 16:04 So these are a total of nine short films and original new choreography, all surrounding issues of voting rights in America and disco riot pulled together across disciplinary artists, musicians, filmmakers, mostly locals to really get these stories told well, and a lot of the choreographers are pulling from their own experiences and histories as people of color participating in politics and in art. And they've been dosing at these films weekly since mid September. So right now you can find four films online so far plus resources about each of the topics there's films about voting as immigrant families on the border awareness of black women in America, parallels to the oppression happening in the Philippines and voter suppression like in one film, by any means necessary by dancer and choreographer, Darien lumen, and performed by him and Simon Greenburg. It's a beautiful duet filmed it, this really desolate backdrop of the Salton sea and it features an amazing custom metalwork ballot box with some powerful spoken word plus music by Gemma Nell and Charlotte Douglas. Let's have a listen to that. [inaudible] that from the film by any means necessarily by Darien Lumon. And if you don't want to wait to watch these throughout the rest of the month, they were doing screenings Saturday night at art produce in North park in the outdoor garden area, you can reserve a time spot for a half hour of viewing. Speaker 1: 18:06 I find a new move American dance film online every Monday through election day, or you can watch them all Saturday night between six 30 and 9:00 PM in the art produce gallery garden for more arts events or to sign up for the weekly KPBS arts newsletter go to And I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Julia, thank you so much. Thank you. Have a good weekend.

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The 2020 Presidential Election may be unlike any other, but San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu and his staff seem to have prepared for all contingencies, from balloting to tabulating. Plus, KPBS is examining how data that shows the spread of coronavirus in San Diego County is collected from beginning to end. And infuse your weekend with some voting-themed art in San Diego this weekend in between checking the news.