League Volunteers Make Democracy Work Supporting Voters and the Elections Department


Voter Services continues to work elections and so the report for the 2018 general election is not yet complete but as of now here is the Voter Services Report from Liz Shields and observations from two Elections Observers: 

  • Heartfelt thanks to the 47 League members and friends who volunteered to unfold ballots and staff the phone bank.
  • Also heartfelt gratitude to Francine Farber whose article in the Fresno Bee prompted at least seven readers to volunteer their time, initially for the phone bank which she described in such beguiling terms, and then to unfold ballots when they found out what an interesting job that would be.
  • Hundreds of volunteer hours have been logged. Initial estimates indicate that we spent almost 500 hours unfolding ballots at the Elections Warehouse as well as 120 hours answering phones on and before Election Day.
  • Our work for the Elections Department started early in response to an overwhelming number of phone calls from anxious voters who had not received their vote-by-mail ballots in a timely manner. This situation should alert both the Elections Department and the Post Office to take steps to avoid such voter anxiety in 2020 when all voters in Fresno County will receive vote-by-mail ballots.
  • Work continues with duplication of ballots set aside during the unfolding process due to voters’ change of candidate or proposition choices, coffee stains and other irregularities which prevented the scanning machine from accurately recording their intent.
  • We will also help with the audit of the polling place ballots. This will be the last activity before the vote count is sent to the Secretary of State on or before December 7.
  • In addition to assistance to the Elections Department, League members registered about 700 high school students during October as well as reregistering residents of retirement homes who have moved there since the last election. In addition members made presentations on the propositions to local groups in churches, retirement homes and libraries.
  • Although the deadline for Voter Registration for this election was October 22, about 800 voters waited until Election Day to register or reregister, creating an unusual sight outside the Elections Office between 6 and 7 p.m. with people sitting on any available space filling out voter registration forms. These voters were able to cast conditional ballots at the Elections Office following registration and their votes will be counted if it is determined that they are eligible. While it caused some headaches for the Elections Department on Election Day these people are now registered to vote in 2020.                                                                               
  • Volunteer Observer Lanny Larson: “The Fresno County Elections Office tries to protect the process from tampering/hacking and ensure everyone who is registered -- and wants to -- gets a chance to vote. Access to any ballot processing is strictly controlled, even for observers. “The vote-by-mail ballots were opened by machine and signatures compared electronically with registration, with anomalies put aside for human assessment. Ballots were separated from envelopes for secrecy, before being brought to League volunteers for sorting. “There is an emphasis on experience for precinct workers, but there are more slots than volunteers -- an issue that won't go away until the system becomes more vote-bymail as planned for 2020. Training workers, getting materials to inspectors and equipment to polling places (and collected afterward) is a complex process, but designed to protect the integrity of each ballot.”
  • League Member Volunteer Observer Linda Garcia: “Like the county elections office, the printing facility in Dinuba is secured with surveillance cameras and keypad locks. The whole process is a feat of logistics. Fresno County ballots are printed and stored in a room that requires every entering individual to record who entered the room and at what time. Overall I was impressed with the process. In the future, I'd be interested in sitting in on the training polling staff receive. I vote by mail, so I haven't had many of my own personal experiences at the polls.” 
  • to contact Liz Shields:  eliz44 [at] yahoo.com    
  • web editor note of appreciation to Liz Shields for the incredible job she does in keeping all things voter services moving forward in such a well organized manner.  Thank you!
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