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September 20, 2020
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Cotati is open to new county wide voting system

By: Irene Hilsendager
September 27, 2019

The Sept. 24, 2019 Cotati City Council meeting saw the presentation of the Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder Assessor Registrar of Voters on a new county-wide voting system by the Sonoma County Clerk, Deva Marie Proto. 

The Clerk-Recorder-Assessor is committed to assuring honest and open elections, maintaining and preserving property and vital records and setting fair and equitable values for tax purposes in an accurate, timely, professional and courteous manner. In 2001, the Board of Supervisors combined the elected County Clerk and elected County Recorder with the elected Assessor. The County Clerk now included the duties of County Clerk, Registrar of Voters, Public Guardian-Public Administrator and the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors. 

In the previous election system, which was installed in 1983, the votes had to be marked. This system was antiquated, was no longer manufactured and the software and replacement parts were almost non-existed, and no periodic updates were possible.

In 2017 and 2018, state funding was imminent to get new certified election systems with hiring a special project Director, put an online survey out to the public and held a demonstration day for the public.

A new tallying system was implemented in early 2019 and was first used for the March 2019 election for the Palm Drive Health Care District election. This increased efficiency and automation, cut down on extra help and overtime costs and did periodic updates. There was a new accessible ballot marking device with a new ballot design but also included a paper ballot.

New election changes were put into effect with a new motor voter, postage will be paid on mail in ballots with new accessible voter information.  Election night reporting will become much faster and easier and there will be remote accessible vote by mail. It was mentioned that some of the upcoming challenges will be redistricting and more legislation.

Another topic brought up was election security. There will be no internet connectivity, a central count place and discussions on cybersecurity. Laurie Alderman, election volunteer, says with 800 people volunteering, double and triple checks, the public does not have to worry too much about security. John Dell’Osso says, “I am still of the old fashion school and vote at a polling place.”

After the election why does it take so long to hear the results? There has to be manual tallying, conditional voter’s registration and signature curing. Deva said there is a very low percentage of this happening. Signature curing is when the state allows extra time to circulate a petition. If a petition drive management company submits thee signatures and the signatures are found to be insufficient, then a curing period would then be implemented to allow extra time to reach the threshold of valid signatures.

Another subject brought to light was the projected Memory Care facility along the 116 corridors. Traffic will be more impacted and especially since the W. Sierra road has never been properly addressed for the severe traffic problems along that stretch of highway.

Another Cotati citizen was addressing the council about domestic violence. Domestic violence happens every day behind closed doors not just in the month of Oct. which is domestic violence month. Could the City of Cotati and the Cotati Police Department think about using code words for dispatchers and domestic victims? Would it be possible to call 911 and say you are ordering a pizza and the dispatcher would know someone is in trouble? The dispatcher could say, “are you in trouble?” The victim would answer, “Yes, I want to order a pizza with sausage.” The dispatcher could say, “do you want that delivered?” “Yes.” What address do you want that delivered?” This way the dispatcher could get an address and the abuser would not know it. The police could then be on the way. The community should put this into effect and see if domestic violence can be curtailed.