Polling Place Profile
Calif. polling places require a land-sea approach for access
Twenty-two miles south-southwest of Los Angeles lie four of Los Angeles County’s most unique polling places.
While the buildings that house the polling places aren’t particularly unique as far as polling places go — two churches, a courthouse and a restaurant — what makes them special is their location.
The polling places are located on Santa Catalina Island — just Catalina to most of us — and that 22-mile distance from Los Angeles? That’s 22 miles of water that leaves the island only accessible by air or sea.
With the island accessible only by air or sea, getting voting machines to and from and ballots back and forth on election day has required a lot of logistics, good weather and the support of the county sheriff’s department.
“For the past 30 plus years, the county has been supported by the sheriff's department to transport ballots from Catalina Island via watercraft or aircraft depending on weather conditions,” explained Adolfo Gonzalez, assistant division manager for the county’s registrar-recorder/county clerk. “Historically, ballots have been delivered either to Long Beach-Rainbow Harbor or Marina Del Rey.”
Catalina is home to less than 4,000 people with the bulk of the population (3,728) living in the island’s only incorporated town of Avalon. Another couple hundred live in unincorporated Two Harbors with the remainder scattered throughout the island.
During the most recent election—the June 5 primary—the polling places served a combined 1,798 voters.
Because electronic voting machines are not certified in Los Angeles County, all the ballots must be transported back to the mainland once the polls close.
“We coordinate with the sheriff’s department and determine ahead of time which transportation method to use,” Gonzales explained. “Watercraft has proven to be the best choice overall since bad weather can ground a helicopter flight; however, in bad weather a watercraft can still travel at a slower speed and the ballots can still arrive and be counted.”
The final decision to use the transportation method is made by the registrar-recorder’s office and is confirmed by the sheriff’s department three weeks prior to an election.
Gonzales said they have never encountered such severe weather that prevented the transport of ballots from Catalina to the mainland either by boat or helicopter.
For the June election, the Avalon sheriff’s station used its own boat to transport the ballots from Avalon Harbor to Marina Del Rey where another sheriff’s deputy was standing by waiting for the ballots. The ballots were then taken to the county’s tally headquarters.
And of course it’s not just the ballots that need to get to and from the island, but also all the voting equipment and other sundries that are required an election. Just like the ballots, those too are literally shipped over.
“The voting machines are stored between elections at the recorder-registrar/county clerk’s Election Operations Center,” Gonzales explained. “All voting machines and supply tubs containing ballots are transported to Catalina one week prior to an election and returned to the Election Operations Center on the day after the election via a watercraft vehicle. “
Unfortunately, due to safety regulations, staff from the elections office is not permitted to ride with the ballots either via boat or helicopter.
Alaska: Precinct problems
Colorado: Noncitizen voters
Iowa: Double voting
Michigan: Initiative process
Minnesota: Secretary of state
Mississippi: Voter ID
Nebraska: Voter ID
New Mexico: Secretary of state
New York: Accessible polling places
Oregon: Voter ID
Rhode Island: Voter ID
South Carolina: Primary legal battles
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Elections Division Manager, Santa Barbara County, Calif. - Under administrative direction, directs, manages, supervises, and coordinates the activities and operations of the Election Division within the County Clerk, Recorder & Assessor's Office in a manner consistent with applicable federal and state legislation and administrative procedures; assist in the establishment and evaluation of County elections policies and procedures; provides highly responsible and complex administrative support to the Chief Deputy Registrar of Voters; and may oversee programs and special projects for the County Clerk, Recorder and Assessor's Department in periods where an election is not scheduled. A Division Manager is also responsible for the development, administration, and control of associated budgets. Ideal candidate will have: Experience in performing duties directly related to the preparation and conduct of elections; knowledge of the California Elections, Government and Education codes, and applicable laws, rules, procedures, court cases, regulations and ordinances that affect the preparation and conduct of elections; the ability to promote teamwork among groups with differing priorities; a proven track record of successfully overcoming obstacles to achieve results; analyzing problems and identifying solutions; and applying election laws and procedures. Salary: $70-106,443 DOQ. Deadline: September 6, 2012. For complete job posting and how to apply, click here.
Manager, Elections Initiatives, Pew Center on the States, Washington, D.C. — Manager will serve as the lead manager across all the Election Initiatives. The Manager reports to the Director, Election Initiatives, who is based in Washington, DC, and will be part of a project staff including: a director, a senior officer, two managers, three senior associates, an associate, an administrative assistant and a research fellow. This position is funded through June 20, 2013. Qualifications Include: Eight + years of professional experience in public policy in general and election administration, technology policy, and open government in particular; undergraduate degree required; Masters or other advanced degree in a relevant area preferred; experience working with election officials, academics, technology experts, voting technology vendors, and other relevant stakeholders; proven programming skills in multiple languages including XML and strong system skills in Microsoft Office products required. Familiarity with HTML, mapping, geographic information systems, voting technology vendors’ proprietary software, open source formats, and data management tools (Google Maps, Bing Maps, ArcGIS) and their prospects for use in elections technology preferred; demonstrated strong analytical, qualitative, and quantitative skills applied to public policy issues, including an ability to synthesize and summarize large amounts of information and to focus quickly on the essence of an issue; and a strong familiarity with statistical analysis software (e.g. SPSS, Stata, SAS). For complete listing and application, click here.
Manager, Communications, Elections Initiatives, Pew Center on the States, Washington, D.C. — offers a unique opportunity for an individual to contribute to exciting, high-profile initiatives. Reports to the Pew Center on the States’ Senior Officer, Communications and is part of the staff of Pew’s communications department. The communications manager is responsible for developing and executing a comprehensive and robust communications program to increase the visibility and impact of Pew’s experts, research, initiatives and events with target audiences. This position will also work with other communications colleagues to plan and execute integrated strategies, campaigns and outreach and other duties as assigned. Qualifications Include: Bachelor's degree required including skills associated with completion of an undergraduate degree program in communications, journalism or related major; graduate degree in public affairs, public policy or journalism desirable; at least eight years of direct experience in position with communications/PR responsibilities, with considerable experience as a media relations professional – knowledge of pitching, media strategies – required. Experience in public policy preferred; superior oral and written communications skills. Proven experience drafting media materials and other public documents including press releases, fact sheets, speeches and op-eds; ability to manage and ensure professional development of junior staff; able to build and leverage relationships within and external to Pew to assemble networks that facilitate positive outcomes. For more information and to apply, click here.
Public Affairs Specialist, District of Columbia Board of Elections — conducts the public affairs program for the board with responsibility for developing and providing direction for all public information, internal information and community relations activities. Identifies communication needs and develops informational materials that inform voters of the agency’s policies, programs, services and activities; and plans, executes and evaluates the effectiveness of information and communication programs. Coordinates media. Works with the media in a proactive manner to identify news opportunities and to ensure positive news stories about the BOE relations, event planning and community outreach activities. It is desirable that the applicant be a graduate from an accredited college or university with a Bachelor’s degree in public administration, legislative or regulatory affairs, journalism, communication, marketing or a related field, plus three (3) to four (4) years of work-related knowledge or experience within functional areas such as communication marketing, public relations, legislative affairs or journalism. Interested persons can apply to the D.C. Dept. of Human Resources Job Center 441 4th St., NW; Washington, D.C. 20001. To apply online, got to http://dcop.dc.gov and click Employment Opportunities. Inquiries should be directed to HR Answers at 202.422.9700.