Voter-registration countdown begins

The Peninsula’s history of embracing technology extends all the way to the ballot box, and as Nov. 6 approaches, local election officials say they are heartened that the rest of the nation is following their lead.

A new mandate requiring all California election offices to provide an online tracking feature for mail-in ballots by March 2008 got its start in San Mateo County, election officials said.

In 2005, San Mateo County became the first county in the United States to offer the service after a focus group of absentee voters expressed concerns over whether or not their ballots were received by Election Day, said Chief Elections Officer Warren Slocum.

With nearly 40 percent of state voters voting by mail, the feature is designed assure them that their votes were received, he said.

County officials designed their tracking model after those used by postal and shipping services. The tracking may also be made a federal requirement if legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif., is passed, according to Davis’ office.

Vote-by-mail ballots were mailed earlier this week in San Mateo County, and early voting in the consolidated municipal, school and special-district election has already begun, according to election officials.

Applications to vote by mail will be accepted through Oct. 30. More than 40 percent of eligible San Mateo County voters have already signed up to vote by mail, Slocum said.

San Mateo County residents planning to cast ballots in the election must register by Monday. If you have moved, changed your name or switched political parties you must re-register, Slocum said.

“It’s important that voters keep their registration information current by filling out and submitting a new voter registration form to reflect any change,” he said.

The county election office at 555 County Center in Redwood City willbe open longer on Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for voter convenience. Voting hours on Election Day are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters can get more information and track their votes at www.shapethefuture.org.

tbarak@examiner.com

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