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Two Perfect Storms for County Elections Officials



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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, May 14, 2012

Elections Official:
"How many boxes did you have?  About eight?"
Campaign Volunteer: "Mm-hmm."
Elections Official: "Fantastic."

On the very day the Sacramento County Elections Office was shipping out vote-by-mail ballots for the June 5th Primary Election, volunteers wheeled in boxes of signatures for a tax measure that would fund education.

Elections Official: "So we need the letter from the proponent…"
Campaign Volunteer: "Yep, it's right here."

Three days later, Governor Jerry Brown - and his dog Sutter - stopped by with signatures for their own initiative:

Brown: "Well over a million signatures signed by the people …"

And those are far from the only petitions.  In the back of the office, a half-dozen young employees are counting signatures for another measure.  It's all pretty overwhelming for elections officials - even ones who've been in their jobs for a while.  Sacramento County Registrar of Voters Jill LaVine:

LaVine: "Basically, we are going to have two staffs working - one on petitions and one on the election at this point."
Ben: "And the county pays for it without any reimbursement."
LaVine: "That's correct.  There is no state reimbursement at all for this process."

Extra staff and overtime - all paid for from county general funds.  It's especially hard on Los Angeles County, which has the largest population and the most signatures to count.  LaVine says it won't be easy and it won't be cheap - but somehow, counties will get it done.

LaVine: "We will find a way. It may mean long hours.  We may need extra help.  But we will find a way."

To qualify for the November ballot, a measure must be certified by late June.  That's just days before the deadline for counties to certify the results of the Primary election.

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