The election taking center stage in Burbank right now is the 2017 General Election. Four candidates are battling it out for two seats on the city council. They are incumbents Dr. David Gordon and Bob Frutos, and challengers Juan Guillen and Sharon Springer. Councilman/Mayor, Jess Talamantes, won re-election in the primary.
Nevertheless, there are questions and doubts lingering from the recent primary election on February 28. City Clerk, Zizette Mullins, was re-elected in the primary. Here is my email Q&A with Mullins about the primary and those mail-in ballots.
1. The state law allowing mail-in ballots with valid postmarks to be counted three days after the election went into effect January 1, 2015. The change was not instituted in Burbank until much later. Why the delay?
The changes to the Election Section of the Burbank Municipal Code are typically conducted prior to an upcoming election. Usually at the same time the Council approved the calling of the election approximately 4 – 5 months prior to the Primary Election. For the 2015 Election, the BMC language was adopted by Council on July 15, 2014, which was prior to the implementation of the State law. The new State law language was adopted by Council on September 20, 2016, for the 2017 Election.
2. On primary election night the ballot total was 9,903. By Friday March 3, that number jumped to 10,902. Between Wednesday, March 1 and noon Friday, March 3, the City Clerk’s Office received 999 ballots. There is speculation that some of those ballots might have been mailed after Election Day. Is that possible?
According to the BMC (see language below) we inspected each envelope for a conforming postmark or date of signature that was prior to or on February 28.
2-3-1523: RETURN OR DELIVERY OF BALLOT TO CITY CLERK; BY MAIL OR DEPOSITING IN BALLOT BOX:
Any vote by mail ballot cast shall be timely cast if it is received by the City Clerk via the United States Postal Service or a bona fide private mail delivery company no later than noon on the third day after Election Day and either of the following is satisfied:
ELECTIONS CODE EXHIBIT A
(1) The ballot is postmarked on or before Election Day or is time stamped or date stamped by a bona fide private mail delivery company on or before Election Day.
(2) If the ballot has no postmark, a postmark with no date, or an illegible postmark, the vote by mail ballot identification envelope is date stamped by the elections official upon receipt of the vote by mail ballot from the United States Postal Service or a bona fide private mail delivery company, and is signed and dated pursuant to California Elections Code Section 3011 on or before election day.
3. That large haul of mail-in ballots received after Tuesday, February 28, was apparently more than the number collected at drop-off centers on Election Day. Why do you think that happened? Does this mean voters are becoming more confident in the U.S. Postal Service delivering their ballots in a timely manner?
We received 1,667 ballots on Election Day from the drop-off-centers, which is higher than what we received in the three days after the election. I really can’t answer the last part of your question regarding the post office since I have not conducted an official survey.
4. When do the ballots for the April 11 general election go into the mail?
The ballots will be mailed the week of March 20th.
I’m told, mail dropped off at the U.S. Post Office after closing is postmarked the next day. So what happens to the mail-in ballots with postmarks later than Election Day? Maybe the city clerk will answer that question tomorrow. Mullins says there will be a presentation on the primary election, Tuesday, March 14, at the city council meeting.