It’s said that every vote counts and in El Dorado County Registrar of Voters Bill Schultz is trying to make sure that every vote includes the 259 registered voters living overseas, including deployed military personnel.
El Dorado County is using new technology to spearhead a 13-county coalition that will be sending electronic ballots to their registered voters currently overseas.
“We were the first county in California to utilize electronic ballot technology in the primary election earlier this year,” said Schultz. “The results were encouraging and we hope more overseas citizens will take advantage of this in November.
“We heard about a grant from the federal Voting Assistance Program and thought,’We could do this.’, ” said Schultz. “My assistant, Barbara Dunmore, wrote the grant on behalf of the 13-county coalition and we were one out of the seven coalitions across the nation to be awarded a grant.”
The $1.83 million from the grant will be shared among the 13 counties involved and allows the Elections Department to partner with Democracy Live, a vendor that provides a cloud-based e-balloting platform. Overseas voters access their ballot through a secure portal on the Elections Department Website and can track their ballot return status.They can also look up general information regarding the election.
The county coalition includes Butte, Contra Costa, Fresno, Lassen, Marin, Nevada, Sacramento, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara and Solano counties.
About half of El Dorado County’s overseas citizens accessed ballots electronically in the June primary. Ballots were accessed from Canada, France, Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Israel, Mexico, Cayman Islands and the United Kingdom.
“We got the system up and running for the June election and it worked as expected. We got good results and appreciative comments from military users,” said Schultz. “We expect a large increase in usage for the Nov. 6 election.”
Schultz added, “Voting rates for military personnel and overseas citizens traditionally fall short compared to domestic returns. This technology provides speed and flexibility to the overseas voter that traditional absentee efforts just can’t match.”
A video put together by the Elections Department shows how the electronic balloting works. It and other information about the Overseas and Uniformed Services Voter Program can be found on the El Dorado County Website at edcgov.us/Elections. The ballots will be ready next month.
“This is a great tool for voters,” said Schultz
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530-344-5069 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She is not related to the registrar of voters-recorder-clerk. Follow @WSchultzMtDemo on Twitter.