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Secretary of State Bowen makes ‘home visit' in Colusa
There were no hot-button issues to cool, or even depressing concerns over budgets.
In fact, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's visit to Colusa on Monday felt more like a home visit than anything else.
And that was the point.
"Because of my day-to-day work here, I do have more occasions to speak to her. So for me, it was great to have her come and see my workplace," Colusa County Clerk-Recorder Kathleen Moran said of Bowen. "For everyone else, it was a first-time meeting, so it was good for them to meet the person I am always talking about."
The group included county Assistant Clerk-Recorder Rose Gallo-Vasquez, Colusa City Clerk Shelly Kittle and longtime poll worker Bea Oliveras, a former postmistress in Grimes.
Bowen's stop was part of a North State tour that included visits to Glenn, Tehama and Shasta counties.
In Glenn County, she did raise concerns about the possible closure of the Redding postal processing center, but even that is an issue that has come and gone for Colusa County.
Moran said that when the processing center in Yuba County closed, that did have an impact on her operation, but adjustments have been made.
For example, the company that prints the sample ballots, now mails those out directly from its home base near Anaheim.
Still, Moran said closing post offices is an issue.
"We share those concerns," Moran said. "(Bowen's) office has taken a very proactive position to stave off those closures until at least after the November election ... but those closures are likely."
What impact, if any, the cl sure of small, rural post offices, such as the one in Grimes, could have on elections will remain to be seen.
A decision on those closures is expected as early as May.
Bowen told the small gathering at the Colusa County Courthouse that she was a poll worker for about 10 years before she started her career in politics.
She said the first year she ran for office, she still got a call asking her to come in and help.
"I said no, I don't look good in orange jumpsuits," Bowen quipped.
Moran told Bowen that the county tries to get young people involved in the election process by making them poll workers.
"We try to have one student at every polling place, not only because they are students, but they often can help us with our language issues," Moran said.
"And the schools tend to send us the best students, and the poll workers love to work with the students," she said.
Moran showed Bowen some of the new election props available, some, such as the informational "totems," of which Bowen had not even seen, then gave her a brief tour of the archives in the historic courthouse.
There was, however, a quick glimpse into the future.
Bowen said in an interview that online voting registration will be a reality soon.
She did not think it will trigger the kind of political debate in California that is being seen in several states over voter photo identifications.
Simply put, she said it has never been an issue in California.
"We have never found anyone who is voting as someone else," Bowen said. "Even in close races, we have never found anyone."
Moran said every new registration goes into a databank and the names and other information is checked against records at the DMV and other agencies.
First-time voters must show identification at polling locations; and if they do not have photo identification, then there is a list of specific identifications they must have.
Moran said the issue of photo identification is not a concern.
"I know it is an issue that comes up," Moran said, "but I can tell you, the bigger issue is to get people to register and get out to vote," Moran said.
Colusa County, which typically has one of the higher voter turnout rates, has about 7,500 registered voters.
For the June primary, the county will have about 60 workers manning the 14 precinct polling locations. There are four mail-only precincts as well.
Statewide, Bowen said, there will be about 100,000 people working the polling locations.
And because there have been some changes with the ballot, and because of the redistricting, Bowen is expecting a few bumps.
"We are trying to anticipate what might happen," Bowen said. "I'm sure there will be questions."
Moran said she has started recruiting for her poll supervisors and hopes to begin training soon.
Additional training will be done with the workers.