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Grand jury: Vote-by-mail would save San Joaquin County big bucks

6:27 PM, Jun 30, 2010   |    comments
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STOCKTON, CA - Eliminating old-fashioned polling places could save San Joaquin County $500,000.

That's the conclusion of the San Joaquin County Grand Jury. Its latest report recommended that "the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors pursue enabling legislation that will allow the County the option of conducting future elections exclusively by mail."

San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Austin Erdman agreed.  He said almost 92,000 voters cast ballots in the last primary on  June 8. 

"A little less than 24,000 voters went to the polls," Erdman said. "About 75 percent of the voters voted by mail compared to 25 percent who went to the polls."

So if the county were to ditch polling places, Erdman estimated the savings for the county would add up to $1 million.

About 213 people used TSX's - touch screen voting machines during the last election.

Erdman said, "It's almost $1,700 per vote to use TSXs.  There's an additional cost (of about $500,000) to house and maintain those machines."

He pointed out studies show it cost about $4.50 per voter to mail in ballots.

The Grand Jury also recommended the county "reduce the number of precincts with voting machines provided for special needs voters throughout the county. Five sites could provide adequate access.  Public transportation is available to special needs voters."

Erdman said if the county changes to a vote-by-mail scenario, "I'm certainly willing to put TSXs throughout San Joaquin County at different clerks locations or take them to the malls to make sure special needs voters can vote."

Erdman added he is formulating his response to the Grand Jury, which will include his belief that the time has come for an all vote-by-mail election. "I think it's a great thing based on our economic times," he said.

By Karen Massie, kmassie@news10.net  

News10/KXTV

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