Voter Education And Outreach Plan
The California Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) requires the County to develop a Voter Education and Outreach Plan that informs voters on all aspects of the VCA, including Vote Center and Ballot Drop Box locations, and information specific to voters with disabilities and non-English preference voters. Public meetings will be held with community organizations and individuals that advocate on behalf of or provide services to these groups. The County will hold multiple public education workshops, with translators available for Spanish, Chinese, Filipino and Korean language speakers. All public events hosted by the County will be ADA accessible.
The County worked with its Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee (VAAC), Language Accessibility Advisory Committee (LAAC), and Voter Education and Outreach Advisory Committee (VEOAC) to develop the Voter Education and Outreach Plan, which will be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office for review.
Similar to our community outreach and public awareness efforts in advance of the November 3, 2015 All-Mailed Ballot Election, the County will reach out to community organizations, agencies, schools and other groups to raise awareness of the new election model. This will be combined with a broad media campaign using direct mail, news media (including student newspapers), social media (such as @CountyofSanMateo on Facebook, @smcvote on Twitter and Instagram), and public access media to announce the implementation of the VCA. The campaign will promote the toll-free voter assistance hotline, inform voters how to obtain their ballot in an accessible format, and provide multilingual services and accessibility to persons with hearing disabilities.
The Registration & Elections Division will reach out to organizations hosting community events and community organizations found in the Addenda. The community events and community partners list will evolve as new ones are added and/or changed.
The County will promote the SOS’s nonpartisan Democracy at Work program through social media. The Democracy at Work program provides the opportunity for businesses, government agencies and nonprofits to partner with the SOS to encourage greater civic participation through initiatives designed to increase voter registration and voter turnout among employees and the voting public.
The Registration & Elections Division has provided information about the new voting model to more than 200 Community Partners to assist in voter outreach. Election representatives are attending community events, making presentations to organizations, and training interested individuals and groups to assist with education and outreach. Upcoming community events, community partners, and city election official contacts can be found in the Addenda. These lists will evolve as new events and partners are added and/or changed. Additions are welcome to these lists. The list will be updated on www.smcacre.org.
The County has added college organizations, veterans and other advocacy groups to its list of community partners. Community partners may assist in simple ways such as placing a flyer in an office, including an article in an organizational newsletter or on a website, or have an Elections representative present information on the VCA to clients, members, and/or residents. Educational tools, including a presentation, flyer, and frequently asked questions, will be available to download from the County’s Election website or copies available from the Division’s Tower Road location. An online toolkit will include messages, graphics, and other resources which can be customized for various needs.
County representatives will continue to visit local high schools to register and pre-register students and educate them about the VCA election model. When colleges in the county will not be in regular session during the voting period, the Registration & Elections Division will provide information in advance to interested campus organizations.
INDIVIDUAL VOTER NETWORK
Outreach and education activities are not limited to organizations. Individual voters may serve as part of a support network to alert the Registration & Elections Division to barriers to voting and provide solutions to ensure widespread awareness to the new voting model. The Division developed a contact form on its website for this purpose and will provide office contact information at Vote Centers to receive comments.
NON-ENGLISH PREFERENCE VOTERS
As part of its outreach efforts, the County will continue and expand its outreach to voters who prefer to use a language other than English. The County’s LAAC members will host our educational workshops in their native language. The fall workshops are planned for the first two weeks of October. Most locations are to be determined. A workshop in Chinese will be held at the Self-Help for the Elderly meal site in Millbrae on October 8, 2018.
A news release, distributed to all media serving San Mateo County residents, will announce the toll-free voter assistance hotline, which will provide multilingual services. Additionally, advertisements in Spanish, Chinese, Filipino and Korean media will be purchased to promote the assistance hotline. Media partners, including non-English language media, are in the Addenda. The County has incorporated additional media partners from public comments to the Draft EAP.
Vote Centers which require language assistance have been identified by the California Secretary of State through U.S. Census data. Additional identification will be through the public input process, including input provided by the County’s LAAC.
The County will endeavor to recruit at least one Spanish-speaking and one Chinese-speaking election worker for each Vote Center to provide language assistance. If a Vote Center is in, or adjacent to, a precinct with other language requirements, the County will endeavor to recruit an election worker fluent in the language, or to provide alternative methods of effective language assistance.
We will invite voters with limited English proficiency to self-identify as needing language access services upon arrival at a Vote Center (using, for example, “I speak” cards).
While the use of in-person language assistance is preferred, we continue to explore options for remote assistance. Alternative methods will include calling a VCR at a different center or a LAAC member on the phone to speak to a voter (each Vote Center will have a mobile phone). When we cannot provide assistance, we will use AT&T USADirect Language Line Services.
VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES
The County has a long-standing commitment to working with voters with disabilities to increase accessibility in the democratic process. The Registration & Elections Division website, www.smcacre.org, provides information and resources for voters with disabilities, including details on eSlate Disabled Access Units, the Accessible Vote by Mail System, the ADA Accessible requirements for Vote Centers and the VAAC. The County also provides information on these resources to convalescent hospitals, Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Vista Center for the Blind, Santa Clara Valley Blind Center, Center for Independence of Individuals with Disabilities, San Francisco Independent Living Resource Center and Peninsula Volunteers - Meals on Wheels.
A press release, distributed to all media serving San Mateo County residents, will announce the toll-free voter assistance hotline, which will provide accessibility to persons with hearing disabilities.
The County’s VAAC will host our educational workshop for voters with disabilities. The fall workshop will be held during the first two weeks of October, and the location is still being determined.
Voters with disabilities have many accessible voting options in San Mateo County. Voters with disabilities may use their personal computer to download and mark their ballot through the Accessible Vote by Mail (AVBM) System. To access this service, voters may request an AVBM ballot through the postcard on the back-cover of their Sample Ballot & Official Voter Information Pamphlet. Voters may also access an AVBM ballot through the “My Election Info” page on the County’s Election website.
Vote by Mail ballots and Vote Center ballots provide additional accessible voting options. Every voter will receive a Vote by Mail ballot in the mail beginning 29 days before Election Day. If a replacement Vote by Mail ballot is needed, voters may simply call the Elections Division at 888.SMC.VOTE (888.762.8683) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. At a Vote Center, voters may request curbside voting where staff will bring a paper ballot replacement or the eSlate Disabled Access Unit to a car. Lastly, voters with disabilities may request the County to deliver a ballot to their home or have an electronic voting machine brought to their home.
Most Vote Centers can be reached via Sam Trans, San Mateo County’s bus service. Persons with disabilities who cannot independently use regular SamTrans bus service, some or all of the time, have access to paratransit. The San Mateo County Transit District provides paratransit using Redi-Wheels on the bayside of the county and RediCoast on the coastside. Riders may call to reserve a trip from one to seven days in advance. The Registration & Elections Division is working with the Paratransit Coordinator to expand voting opportunities for serving persons with disabilities.
A voter with disabilities may contact the Registration & Elections Division to arrange and pay for transportation services to provide a round-trip ride (within the county) if they are unable to reserve a trip through paratransit to the closest Vote Center.
The Registration & Elections Division will hold five public education workshops for minority communities (Tagalog/Filipino, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, and voters with disabilities) in San Mateo County. Each of these workshops aim to educate voters on the voting process and provide election materials. Each of the language workshops will occur at cultural events hosted by the respective language communities. Our events will have certified interpreters and translators to facilitate clear dialogue between Election’s staff and the public. A workshop for voters with disabilities and accessibility advocates will also be held to educate voters on their accessible voting materials and options.
ADDRESSING DISPARITIES IN PARTICIPATION
Citizens may register to vote online directly at registertovote.ca.gov or can access the state voter registration website through a link from the County Elections’ website, www.smcacre.org. Citizens may pick up a voter registration form at the Registration & Elections Division, City Halls, libraries and post offices throughout the County. County agencies serving low-income households and individuals with disabilities provide voter registration forms to their clients. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Secretary of State established the new California Motor Voter Program as defined by AB 1461. This new program, during DMV transactions, will automatically register any person who is qualified to vote unless that person opts out of registration. This began in April 2018. Also, the Registration & Elections Division will mail a registration form upon request.
The Secretary of State provides National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) resources and training to County agencies serving low-income residents and individuals with disabilities. These agencies include, but are not limited to: CalFresh CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), In-Home Supportive Services, Covered California, California’s health benefit exchange, Department of Rehabilitation-Vocational Services, Independent Living Centers, Department of Developmental Services Regional Centers, Offices contracting with the Office of Deaf Access, State and County mental and behavioral health departments, and private practitioners providing services under contract with those departments. The County will provide additional information and training on request to coordinators and staff at agencies.
The draft EAP included six of eight core service agencies providing safety net services to San Mateo County residents (Coastside Hope, El Concilio of San Mateo County, Fair Oaks Community Center, Pacifica Resource Center, Puente de la Costa Sur, and Samaritan House). The amended draft EAP added the Daly City Community Service Center and YMCA Community Resource Center.
The County regularly provides information on voting rights and elections to the Sheriff’s Office to share with inmates in the county’s correctional facilities. Information will also be given to the Service League of San Mateo County for inmates and to the Service League and the David E. Lewis Community Reentry Center for former inmates.
The San Mateo County Transit District offers free community shuttles in Brisbane, Daly City, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Menlo Park, San Carlos, San Mateo and South San Francisco. As part of the Get Up & Go program, the Peninsula Jewish Community Center (PJCC) operates a low-cost door-to-door, wheelchair-accessible bus and car service for older adults who do not drive. Community members can use the online searchable database www.onecalloneclick.org, maintained by the nonprofit OUTREACH, to locate services and chat with a live person or call OUTREACH Mobility Managers at 408.436.2865 for one-on-one service.
A Pop-up (formerly called Roving) Voting set-up will be deployed to Pescadero and La Honda to address geographically remote areas where a fixed site is not needed for the small population.
DIRECT VOTER CONTACTS
Direct contact from the County to voters was the most effective method to inform voters about the November 3, 2015 All-Mailed Ballot Election.
Three postcards are planned to inform voters of the new election model, in addition to information in the Sample Ballot & Official Voter Information Pamphlet and the Vote by Mail Ballot. The first mailing will inform all registered voters of the new voting model. The second mailing will be to voters who have not previously received their ballot by mail to alert them to the upcoming ballot mailing and provide Vote Center information. The third mailing, in the final days before the election, will be to voters who have not mailed in their ballot to remind them to do so, providing information on obtaining a replacement ballot and on Vote Center locations.
Examples of postcards from the November 3, 2015 All-Mailed Ballot Election are included in the Addenda to the Plan.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS
A Public Service Announcement (PSA) script for TV will be distributed with the request for visuals or closed-captioning for voters who are deaf or hard of hearing. A radio script will include a request to stations to post the information on their companion websites to assist in reaching those voters.
Artwork will be available from the County for print and online PSAs, and for government and community partners to use in their social media and newsletters. Print PSAs will be accompanied by a request to post the announcement on any affiliated websites with audio for the blind and visually impaired.
The County will provide Spanish, Chinese, Filipino and Korean language media outlets serving San Mateo County with scripts for PSAs. The scripts will inform voters of the upcoming election and promote the toll-free voter assistance hotline. Artwork will also be available.
The June 5, 2018 Statewide Direct Primary Election was allocated $241,000 for voter education and outreach. The Registration & Elections Division provides in-house support for the preparation of graphic and outreach materials, public presentations and community outreach events.
The Voter’s Choice Act requires extensive voter education about the differences between an All-Mailed Ballot/Vote Center election model and a traditional polling place election model. Effective education and outreach aim to increase voter registration, participation and turnout for the new election model.
The budget will allow the purchase of advertisements in newspapers, television, radio and social media. A portion of these funds will be allocated to language translation and braille production. The outreach budget does not include printing and postage costs for direct mailings to registered voters. Additional funds in the amount of $200,000 were added to the June 5, 2018 Statewide Direct Primary Election budget for this purpose.
In addition, The Voter’s Choice California coalition has offered grants to community-based organizations to enlist their support in VCA outreach programs. Information regarding the Voter’s Choice California coalition and their grant programs may be obtained at https://voterschoice.org/.
Similarly, the November 6, 2018 Statewide General Election has been allocated $450,000 for voter education and outreach, and direct mail to voters.