Election hearing draws sparse attendance

May 31, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — The last of three sparsely attended public hearings on election issues ended here Thursday night with the largest turnout — eight people — voicing complaints and making suggestions to county officials.

The purpose of the hearings was to identify problems and find ways to make them stop, County Supervisor Gary Wyatt said. Wyatt added it is important to increase the public's confidence in the voting system.

Supervisor Joe Maruca said an obvious problem is county Registrar of Voters Dolores Provencio is an elected official and answers to the public, not the county supervisors.


Two-time countywide candidate Ruben Garcia Jr. of Brawley said it would have been a good idea if Provencio attended the hearing.

"One concern I have is not having experienced people working at the polls. When it came out they were looking for people the week — the day — before the election … we need to expand the recruitment effort," Garcia said.

There are many clubs and organizations that could have been approached to recruit poll workers, he said.

Garcia said he doesn't want to tell Provencio how to do her job but poll workers also need more training.

This year's redistricting resulted in a lot of people going to the precinct they went to last year only to find they were at the wrong precinct. And inexperienced poll workers were not able to help or direct them to the correct precinct, he said.

"I was told there were a lot of provisional ballots not counted because they were at the wrong precinct," Garcia said.

Marcua said every vote needs to count.

"Tell me about it," Garcia said.

Garcia lost two tight elections over the last four years. In March he lost a race for Imperial Irrigation District Director to incumbent Lloyd Allen by 139 votes. On election night Garcia was ahead by 49 votes. In 1998, he lost a race for the District 5 supervisor seat by 59 votes to Holtville resident Wally Leimgruber. Leimgruber was re-elected in March by 164 votes over Brawley resident Steve Vasquez.

Brawley Mayor Toni Carrillo said a lot of people in the new mail-in precincts were not notified in time, some receiving their mail-in ballots the Saturday before the election.

"Many people who mailed the ballots were not counted," Carrillo said. "A lot didn't make it."

Wyatt said election ballots must be received by election day, which is always a Tuesday. A ballot postmarked Tuesday will not be counted.

Dora Rodriguez of Brawley said she knows a lot of people who did not vote for candidates on the back side of the ballot because they did not find them.

It would make voting easier if all candidates were listed on the front side of the ballot, Rodriguez said.

Diane Harvey of Imperial learned of the problem with people not flipping over ballots when she called for a recount of certain precincts in the March election.

Harvey was the campaign manager for sheriff candidate Ernie Mendoza, who lost to incumbent Sheriff Harold Carter.

Harvey was not at Thursday's hearing but said in an earlier interview a lot of people in Calexico didn't flip the ballot card to vote on the other side, which was the side where the sheriff's race was listed.

She said she didn't know why people did not flip the card over. Precinct workers are instructed to tell voters to use both sides of the card and it is written on the ballot in English and Spanish.

Maruca and Wyatt said they collected over 35 suggestions at the three public hearings.

Wyatt said he and Maruca will prepare a report for the Board of Supervisors. It will be up to the board to decide what it wants to do at that time.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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