In 2020, SBC Residents Will Be Permitted To Register & Vote At Polls On Election Day

Under new guidelines set out by San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Bob Page, San Bernardino County’s poll workers will allow those showing up at the polls for the California Primary and General elections in 2020 to register to vote on the spot and cast provisional ballots. The ballots cast by the just-registered voters will be set aside and counted after the bona fides of each individual new registree is verified.
That new policy was among several changes announced during a meeting between Page, senior county election office staff members and the 22 of the 24 city and town clerks from around San Bernardino County or their representatives held on Wednesday, October 9.
Attending were Barstow City Clerk Joanne Cousino, Big Bear Lake City Clerk Erica Stephenson, Chino City Clerk Angela Robles, Chino Hills City Clerk Cheryl Balz, Twentynine Palms City Clerk Cindy Villescas, Upland City Clerk Kari Johnson, Colton City Clerk Carolina Padilla, Grand Terrace City Clerk Debra Thomas, Hesperia City Clerk Melinda Sayer, Highland City Clerk Betty Hughes, Loma Linda City Clerk Barbara Nicholson, Montclair City Clerk Andrea Phillips, Redlands City Clerk Jeane Donaldson, San Bernardino City Clerk Georgeann Hanna, Victorville City Clerk Charlene Robinson and Yucca Valley Town Clerk Lesley Copeland. Attending the meeting for Apple Valley Town Clerk La Vonda Pearson was Kiel Mangerino; for Ontario City Clerk Sheila Mautz was Vicki Kasad; for Fontana City Clerk Tonia Lewis was Evelyne Ssenkoloto; for Rancho Cucamonga City Clerk Janice Reynolds were Linda Troyan and Patricia Valdez; and for Yucaipa City Clerk was Tammy Vaughan. Additionally, Cousino was accompanied by Tanya Gordon; Balz by Lynnae Sisemore; Padilla by Jacqueline Shook and Stephanie Vargas; and Hanna by Candice Alvarez and Diane Grant. Needles City Clerk Dale Jones participated telephonically. Adelanto City Clerk Brenda Lopez and Rialto City Clerk Barbara McGee did not attend.
Referred to as a “roundtable discussion” intended to prepare each of the cities or towns for the upcoming elections, Page briefed the attendees with regard to Assembly Bill 72, which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom the previous day. AB 72 allows voters same day registration and the ability to vote at all polling places beginning in 2020. Previously, same day registration was permitted only at early-voting sites.
Early voting sites are locations around the county, including the Registrar of Voters headquarters at 777 East Rialto Avenue in San Bernardino, where voting machines, ballots and voting materials are available on weekdays in the weeks prior to the election so voters can cast ballots there and avoid having to vote at their designated precincts on election day or by mail.
Votes cast by a citizen registering at the polling station on the day of election will be provisional and counted last, as the registrar will need to verify that the person’s voting eligibility as well as making certain that voter has not voted in another county or another polling place. According to Page, the same-day registration and voting process will be aided by E-poll books, which are iPads, issued to election workers.
According to Page’s briefing, other equipment changes in the upcoming election will include new ballot marking machines and precinct scanners for ballots scanned at polling places so votes will be tallied at the polling places and the secure files transferred to the registrar of voters office. Two new mail-ballot counting machines and 20 mobile ballot printers are to be used at early voting sites.
After California Secretary of State Alex Padilla on February 27 of this year issued an edict calling for voting officials throughout the state to transition to voting systems that are in compliance with the California Voting System Standards adopted in 2015, and that they do so in time to conduct polling in conjunction with the March 3, 2020 California Primary election, the county board of supervisors voted to move ahead with the purchase of Dominion Voting Inc.’s $31.93 million Democracy Suite 5.2 voting system to be used countywide at its elections over, at minimum, the next 15 years.  Despite that outlay, it does not appear that the Dominion Voting program will be available for use in the March California primary in San Bernardino County. Instead, for the vast number of the county’s voters, paper – or actually cardboard – ballots will yet be used. The ballots to be used next year will have an oval to fill in, left of the candidate’s name, rather than ballots that required the voter to complete-the-arrow to the right of the candidate’s name which have been in use for the last decade.
In a statement to the Sentinel on Thursday, Page said  “Your assumption in July that the county’s purchase of a new [California] State-certified voting system would cause all voters to cast ballots electronically was incorrect. The primary method of voting will continue to be to mark a paper ballot, whether it is a ballot mailed to the voter or one provided at a polling place.”
Page on Wednesday said the state will defray roughly $8 million of the total cost of purchasing and putting into place the Dominion system.
Another specific issue of consequence taken up at the Wednesday meeting was the designation, or description, candidates are to be permitted to reference themselves by on the county’s ballots in the future. Over the past several years there have been disputes among some competing candidates over the manner in which certain candidates have characterized themselves or the titles they have laid claim to.
According to Page, ballot designations henceforth will not be approved without documentation that the candidate is employed in the fashion in which he or she claims or proof of what he or she does professionally or in some other capacity before that can be listed on the ballot as his or her designation. All candidates, including incumbents, will be required to provide such proof. Verification in some cases could include a pay stub, letter from the candidate’s employer’s human resources or personnel department or directly from his or her employer. If a candidate cannot provide documentation to the satisfaction of San Bernardino County’s in-house attorneys, no ballot designation will be granted.
To the Sentinel’s inquiry and suggestion that ratifying such a designation could require a subjective interpretation of complicated circumstances, Page said, “Regarding the candidate ballot designation process, the candidate must provide proof of the requested designation during the candidate filing period and the elections official has the authority and responsibility to reject a ballot designation that would mislead a voter or does not comply with Elections Code or California Code of Regulations.”
With regard to the changeover to allowing county residents to engage in last-minute registration, including registering on election day and then casting a provisional ballot, Page indicated that the county was complying with a new state law, and that measures were being taken to ensure that the new policy was not exploited to permit fraudulent voting. He said, “We are about to contract with a vendor for electronic poll books as we believe they provide us the most efficient and effective way to comply with SB 72, signed by the governor this week, which requires us to provide conditional voter registration and voting at all polling places starting in March 2020.”
Additionally, Page said, “The registrar of voters may implement additional changes to the voter experience in 2020, including the use of ballot scanners at voting locations to improve the counting process on election day and the use of electronic poll books instead of paper rosters to better check in voters and identify the correct ballot type for each voter. We have not yet made a final decision about whether and when to implement ballot scanners at voting locations. An image of every ballot scanned and the tally of votes for each scanner would be saved on a storage device and returned to the registrar of voters office after the polls close along with the paper ballots. A random sample of paper ballots from every contest on the ballots are to be hand counted to audit the accuracy of the machine count during the canvass period.”

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