California Watch reported this week that San Mateo was among 11 counties in the state to miss a new deadline under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to send ballots 45 days before federal elections, including Tuesday’s primary.
When a Board of Supervisors candidate had to be removed, “Every ballot had to be reprinted,” San Mateo County election manager David Tom told California Watch. “That may have caused us to miss the deadline date.”
This is the first primary election to which the 45-day requirement has been applied. According to California Watch, 739 overseas voters from San Mateo County requested absentee ballots through the mail for Tuesday’s election.
Counties in several other states have also violated the new law since it was passed in 2009. The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against California for the recent violation, but quickly settled. Benjamin Wagner U.S. Attorney Eastern District of California has said, “Our fine men and women in uniform make tremendous sacrifices serving our nation every day. This agreement ensures that military voters, as well as U.S. citizens who are overseas, need not sacrifice their right to vote.”
“The San Mateo County elections office was aware that it missed the deadline and made sure to send the remaining ballots to their destinations via express mail, Tom said. County elections officials will be contacting overseas voters who have not yet returned their ballots to offer them the option to return the ballot by express mail at no cost, he added.
"'We’ll certainly be much more conscious in ensuring that nothing gets in the way of meeting the deadline,” Tom said. “It’s going to be on our radar even more so than it is today.'"
San Mateo County election manager David Tom and chief election officer Mark Church were not available for comment.