Keith Challenges Fellow Candidate's Ballot Language

After current mayor Kirsten Keith and other residents complained about the language fellow County Supervisor candidate Warren Slocum submitted for the official ballot, the County Elections office this week forced Slocum to change it.

Ballots for the upcoming San Mateo County Board of Supervisors election will look a little different than voters may have expected, thanks to a formal complaint filed recently by Kirsten Keith, current mayor of Menlo Park and

Keith and a few local residents are upset about the language used in his ballot designation - a three-word description candidates must give for their current title or form of employment - and his ballot statement, which is a written message to voters.

Tuesday, Keith distributed a press release announcing that the San Mateo County Office of Elections and a County Superior Judge had reviewed her complaint, and were requiring that Slocum re-write his ballot information.

Keith's complaint was that the manner in which Slocum had written his designation and statement might give voters the mistaken impression that he is still employed as the San Mateo County's Chief Elections Officer and Assessor-Clerk-Recorder - when in fact, he previously retired from that position.

Slocum's original ballot statement began, "As your Chief Elections Officer and Assessor-Clerk-Recorder...," though later in the statement, he put the abbreviation "ret." before the title, to indicate "retired."

Though Slocum insists any confusion caused by his choice of language was "unintentional," Keith implies in her press release that she is not inclined to believe him.

“I find it very disturbing that the former Elections Chief for the County filed both a ballot designation and ballot statement that was not permitted under the law,” Keith said in her statement. “This was either a deliberate act or a negligent oversight, and either is very troublesome for someone who was in charge of enforcing election laws and is now a candidate for Supervisor.”

Slocum says, his choice of language stemmed from the rules for ballots that limit the number of words candidates can use. Slocum argues that his official former title, San Mateo County's Chief Elections Officer and Assessor-Clerk-Recorder, is a full 10 words if each word is counted as one. However, the County mandates that ballot designations must be limited to three words.

"In some cases, multiple words can count as one word," Slocum told Patch. "In my dilemma, my title was so long, if you count all the words separately. My thought was that, since that was my title, it would be counted as one word, but they counted it as several."

Slocum adds, he was just trying to be as accurate as possible.

"In the beginning, I was worried that [an abbreviated form of my former title] wasn't my official title. And I think the legislature's intent was to get accurate titles," he said.

As for the use of the abbreviation "ret." Slocum said, he thought it would be clear to voters, and maintains he was not trying to mislead anyone.

"That wasnt my intent," he said of Keith's accusations. "I put the word 'retired' in there, and I just think people are smarter than that."

However, Keith argues in her press release that candidates are allowed a full 200 words for their ballot statements.

Slocum said, the ballots have been corrected, so he thinks the issue is over, and everyone should get back to the real issues at hand.

"I'm focused on the issues - what is facing San Mateo County. And this issue of the ballot designation has been corrected, and I will now just continue with my campaign by getting endorsements, raising money and talking to people," he said.

Andy C March 22, 2012 at 03:43 PM
This is so petty. If we had a real candidate, who gives a rats a$$ what others write for their description? I see two poor choices here: A longtime government employee that has been in politics far too long. A Mayor of a city that can't figure out how to grow and has a main thoroughfare that resembles Detroit. Both of these candidates are running to serve themselves and will bring nothing new if elected.
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