Commentary: Look Before You Vote

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, November 3, 2006

Sacramento County election officials mailed out two double sided paper ballots to more than 200,000 absentee voters. One ballot lists candidates for state and local offices. The other lists state propositions and local ballot measures.

As of last week, 439 voters had called to complain that they’d received only one ballot, or received two of the same ballot pages. That’s an unusually high number of errors. Apparently vendors who insert the ballots made mistakes.

None of this should be surprising. California’s ballot is long and complicated. Sacramento County voters have 51 state and 192 local candidates to sift through, and up to 21 state and local ballot measures to consider. Depending on where they live – which city, school, park, water or fire district, Sacramento voters will receive one of 178 different ballot types. 178! 

The potential for error, the wrong ballot ending up with the wrong voter - is huge. The county checks and cross checks ballots but the most important check is the one YOU do. To protect your vote – read your ballot before you mark it. Make sure it’s complete and that it matches the sample ballot you received in the mail.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.