Timely and efficient election results
Year after year election results came in slow and late. Other counties did better, Joe thought Santa Clara County could do better as well. As the result of his efforts, additional staffing, additional hours and new equipment were authorized, and results are now timelier. In order to address these concerns, Supervisor Simitian led the Board’s effort to beef up election security measures prior to the 2018 elections, and then organized the county’s first election security conference in 2019 to raise awareness and begin sharing best practices.
Pre-paid ballot postage
In 2016 the Board of Supervisors adopted Supervisor Simitian’s proposal to make vote-by-mail ballots postage-paid, eliminating another barrier to voter participation and the timely return of mail-in ballots. As a result, voter participation increased and the number of vote-by-mail ballots turned in at polling places on election day dropped, aiding efforts for timely reporting.
Protecting the front line: Election security conference
We have learned that safe, trustworthy elections are not guaranteed. With responsibility for elections residing with local governments, Supervisor Simitian chose to proactively address these concerns, leading the Board’s effort to beef up election security measures prior to the 2018 elections, and organizing the County’s first election security conference in 2019 to raise awareness and begin the sharing of best practices.
Voter's Choice Act
At Supervisor Simitian’s urging, Santa Clara County implemented the Voter’s Choice Act, which offers greater choice, flexibility and convenience for voters in how, where and when they cast their ballots. Beginning with the March 2020 Presidential Primary election, all Santa Clara County voters receive a mail-in, pre-paid postage ballot. As an alternative to returning ballots by mail, voters can vote at any of the 110 Vote Centers in Santa Clara County, some of which will be open 10 days prior to the election. In addition, there are drop box locations throughout the County as a third alternative for returning a ballot.
Recounts for close elections
In order to ensure that every vote is counted correctly, Supervisors Simitian and Chavez recommended in 2016 that the Board approve a pilot plan for the automatic recount of local contests in certain circumstances. The recount program was made permanent in 2018, requiring a manual recount where the margin of victory is either less than 0.25 percent of the ballots cast, or less than 25 votes. In the past a candidate in a close race would have to pay for the recount. Supervisor Simitian acknowledged that recounts are not without cost, however the guarantee of the “right result” should not come only if the candidate has the ability to pay.