Danville Express

Newsfront - April 27, 2007

Danville Town Council studies mail-in options

Assembly considering option to permit all-mail elections

by Jordan M. Doronila

In a recent study session, the Danville Town Council discussed a state bill that would allow Californians to conduct any election by mail. After consulting, the majority of council members supported the idea that mail election ballots could be useful.

But the council would make that decision.

"We believe having an option is a good tool," said Councilman Newell Arnerich. "It's another option for the right circumstance."

"They did send (a letter) supporting the bill," said Town Manager Joe Calabrigo.

State Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D., Marin) recently introduced the measure that would permit an all-mail ballot election as an option in a city.

Huffman's staff members said voter participation is at an all-time low, and at the same time, more Californians are turning to voting by mail as an absentee. Additionally, they said conducting mail elections would cut costs of elections in counties, resulting in significant savings to taxpayers.

Voting by mail through absentee ballots is quickly becoming the preferred choice among California voters, said Danville town staff.

In the November election, approximately 54 percent of Danville voters cast absentee ballots; countywide, it was 52 percent, staff said.

In Orinda, the number of absentee ballots has exceeded 60 percent, according to a letter to Danville from Mayor Steven Glazer, who has sent letters throughout California requesting that cities and towns support Huffman's bill.

Danville holds consolidation elections, which include local, state and federal candidates and issues, said Calabrigo.

Another option could be to use mail ballots for special elections on issues such as improving lighting and landscaping in town, said Arnerich.

Calabrigo said Danville has never conducted special elections because there is at least one general consolidation election every calendar year.

The Danville council members had varied opinions.

"I'm for it," said Councilman Mike Doyle. "You get people voting. We are going to get more and more people to take advantage of it."

"People are dying every day for the right to vote," he added. "People (here) just don't do it. And they complain that government is not going right."

Councilwoman Candace Andersen said she has not taken a position on it and said she was absent during the council's study session.

"I have to read both sides about it," she said. "It could be a serious potential for fraud in a mail ballot. That has me a little concerned. I'm keeping my options open."

Councilwoman Karen Stepper said she has serious issues with the bill.

"I don't agree with it because there are still too many questions down the road," she said. "I think we have so many concerns with the identification of the voter."

She said she feels those who make the effort to go to polling places on Election Day are more educated on the issues.

Contact Jordan M. Doronila at jdoronila@DanvilleWeekly.com


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