After ballot measures to increase funding for resource-challenged fire districts in San Andreas and West Point narrowly failed in an Aug. 25 election, it was up for debate on Facebook community pages whether all district residents received a ballot on time or at all.
Clerk-Recorder Rebecca Turner told the Enterprise on Monday that the elections office has received multiple calls on the subject.
She said a majority of the calls came from voters living in the Central Calaveras Fire and Rescue Protection District. The district, which serves Sheep Ranch (contractually), Mountain Ranch, Glencoe and Rail Road Flat, did not sponsor a measure on the ballot for the Aug. 25 election.
The West Point Fire Protection District, one of two districts to sponsor a measure, serves the communities of Winton/Lilly Gap, Bald Mountain, Blue Mountain/Schadds, Wilseyville/Sandy Gulch, Bummerville/West Point, Centennial/Higdon and Skull Flat.
Another reason a voter may have not received a ballot is because they haven’t updated their voter registration information since changing their mailing address, she added.
The office reportedly sent out ballots 30 days in advance of the election to the 2,131 registered voters in the San Andreas Fire Protection District and the 1,441 voters in the West Point Fire Protection District.
Turner said the 48.2% turnout in West Point and 40.6% turnout in San Andreas were not unusually low for a special election.
She added that some voters that called in the day after Election Day said they didn’t realize the ballot was for the August election and were waiting to submit it for the Nov. 3 General Election.
Elections staff conducted a “full manual count of all the ballots received” for each contest, Turner said.
Both measures garnered roughly 63% approval, just 3% shy of the needed two-thirds to pass.
The election will tentatively be certified Sept. 4, pending a final count of about five more ballots that had signature issues.
Fire districts in San Andreas and West Point will be holding public meetings to address the foggy road ahead.
For West Point residents, the Board of Directors will be meeting Wednesday at the fire station on 195 Spink Road at 5 p.m. to discuss the future of the district, which will be unable to staff a single fire engine without new funding. The meeting is also accessible through Zoom.
For those in San Andreas, a meeting will be held at the San Andreas fire house Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. at 37 Church Hill Road in San Andreas.
Mail delays a concern for November
While mail delays didn’t appear to be an issue in the Aug. 25 election, Turner said delays will almost certainly be likely for the Nov. 3 General Election.
Since the U.S. Postal Service downsized in recent years, ballots sent to voters from registrars of voters across the state now have to be mailed to a distribution site in Sacramento first, Turner said.
Because of COVID-19, the state has shifted to an all-mail election, meaning 58 election offices will be sending ballots en masse to Sacramento at the same time.
Turner said her office will be sending out follow-up postcards after mailing out General Election ballots.
The registrar is also rolling out a ballot-tracking system that will supposedly allow residents to see where their ballots are in real-time. More information will be provided in the coming weeks.