County’s Cost Of Democracy: $39 Million Over The Next 5 Years

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors next week is scheduled to approve two contracts totaling $39 million with two vendors who are to supply ballots and voting pamphlets to be used by the county’s voters at all local elections to be held for the next five years.
On Tuesday, the board will consider a $17 million contract with Toppan Merrill, LLC for printing and mailing services for voter information guides for the period of January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2026.
Voter information guides are mailed to voters approximately one month before an election to assist with exercising the right to vote. The guides include a sample ballot, instructions on how to vote, candidate statements, the text of local measures, an impartial analysis of measures appearing on the ballot and arguments for and against the measures, as well as information about the assistance that county registrar of voters office provides in assisting individuals in casting their votes.
The vast majority of jurisdictions in San Bernardino County hold elections that correspond with the presidential and gubernatorial elections, both primary and general, in even numbered years. A few cities and districts hold elections in odd-numbered years. The county, cities and districts can call for a special election, as can a group of residents if they file a petition and gather sufficient signatures as specified under state law.
According to San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Bob Page, “A portion of the expenses associated with the printing and mailing of voter information guides and sample ballots are billed to jurisdictions that call for an election and candidates who request a candidate statement be included in the guide.”
If competing candidates for an office up for election or reelection do not emerge, the county, a city, district or agency can forego holding an election and allow the incumbent or the sole candidate for that position to take office without voter participation.
Also on Tuesday, the board of supervisors will vote on Page’s recommendation that the county contract with K& H Printers, Incorporated in an amount not to exceed $22 million for the period of January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2026 to supply ballots for the elections to be held over the next five years.
The ballots to be supplied include ones that are to be used by voters at polling places as well as mail-in ballots, along with special ballots that are needed for voters with specific handicaps.
K & H is to comply with regulations pertaining to the security of ballots set by the California Secretary of State and the California Elections Code. Under the contract, designated employees of the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Office are to be given full access to the K & H’s premises at any time, day or night. K & H is prohibited from allowing any unauthorized access to the ballots or their removal from the vendor’s facility before they are delivered to the county.
San Bernardino County has recently invested in purchasing Dominion Voting Systems machinery to carry out voting at its precincts.
K & H, under the contract, is to follow California regulations for printing Dominion Voting Systems ballots. The Dominion ballots are 8.5 inches wide with three columns and a minimum of 11 inches long and a maximum of 22 inches long. The number of candidates and measures on the ballot are to determine the length of the ballots.
K & H is also supplying mail-in ballots together with the envelopes in which the ballots are sent to the voters and which also contain the envelopes in which the voters mail the ballots back to the registrar of voters office. The return envelopes are white and nine inches wide and either five, seven or eight inches tall, with red printing. They are to be printed with a no postage necessary indicia.
In addition to the mail-in ballots and the poll ballots issued to voters at polling place locations for voting on election day, K & H is to supply the county registrar of voters with counter ballots, those being official ballots issued over the counter to the voters at early voting locations prior to elections and on election days, and training ballots, which are ballots utilized to train poll workers with regard to election day procedures.

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