Most Viewed Stories
State's top election official stops for a chat
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen stopped by the Glenn County Elections Office on Monday and chatted with its staff like they were old friends.
Her stop was part of a tour of North State counties where she learned about their operations.
Bowen was in Colusa County earlier that day and visited Tehama and Shasta counties on Tuesday.
Preservation of local historical records was a common theme on her tour, Bowen said, adding she would see if she could "dig up" some money for county records as well as election department functions.
Grants might be available for that purpose, she said, while talking with Assessor/Clerk-Recorder Sheryl Thur and Elections Department head Susan Alves.
Part of the reason for her trip is to find out what the rural counties have available to them, Bowen said.
Thur and Alves explained Glenn County has about 10,000 registered voters compared to the thousands registered in precincts across Southern California and the Bay area.
They also said Glenn County has 10 voting precincts situated in public places around the county.
Four usually are at the Glenn County Fairgrounds, some at the Orland Fire Hall and others at the Veteran's Memorial Hall in Willows and in church facilities, Alves said.
"I voted in a carpet store once," Bowen said, noting Southern California prencincts often are placed in suburban garages as well.
But that would not work in November in this part of the state, she said.
The collection of absentee and mail-in ballots was discussed.
Thur noted she and her staff often gather close to 2,300 of them on election day by picking them up at the precincts and bringing them to the elections office in Willows.
Voters in outlyling communities like Elk Creek only vote by mail, county officials said.
Closure of U.S. Postal Service processing centers in California is a concern of Bowen's, she said.
Fortunately, most are to remain open in 2012, Bowen said, based on what postal officials have told her.
Particularly important to the North State is the Redding processing center which is to stay open for now.
"I guess my saber rattling helped," Bowen joked, about her conversations with postal managers.
But the women all agreed more center closures could cause delays and problems with mail-in ballots, they said.
Online voter registration via Bowen's office is in the works, she said, and likely will launch around Labor Day in time for the November general election.
Previous attempts to launch were delayed because the original vendor got fired and bureaucratic red tape on the state level has prevented it from moving forward, she said.
She did suggest, though, online registration could save local elections departments a lot of work once it is going.
The Secretary of State's office would send the names and addresses of people registering via the Internet to their county offices through electronic communication, she said.
Bowen also toured the combined Clerk-Recorder's and Elections offices, viewed the vote processing room, met staff and visited the small recorder's vault where books of old records are kept.
"We have books dating back to 1881," Thur said, with many now stored in the Memorial Hall since the county sold the Willows Superior Court House to the state.