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Stanislaus County elections to put campaign finance disclosures online

March 17,2017 12:19

Lundrigan's office continues to deal with changes to election laws. It has been processing requests from Ceres and several school districts to move their elections from odd-numbered years to even years when statewide general elections are held. The ...


Stanislaus County is hiring an outside firm to put campaign finance disclosure statements online for the public to see.The county Registrar of Voters office has placed campaign disclosures for county races on its Stanvote.com. But information for other contests, such as school board races, has not been available, forcing people to line up at the counter to purchases copies of those documents. Tuesday, county supervisors approved a contract not to exceed $100,000 for SouthTech Systems of Riverside to create an online system for campaign disclosures and statements of economic interest. The agreement with SouthTech includes software installation, implementation, support and maintenance through the 2018-19 budget year.Public officials and candidates will use the online system to file reports, and the campaign finance disclosures will be available for viewing on Stanvote.com. Statements of economic interest filed by public officials won’t be available for viewing online, said Lee Lundrigan, county registrar of voters.Various disclosure requirements apply to the Board of Supervisors, judicial offices, other county elected officials, the county counsel and chief executive officer. SouthTech Systems has a history of working with more than 50 cities, counties and state agencies. Stanislaus County considered bids from two other firms.Lundrigan said staff members spend more than 1,500 hours each year helping candidates and officials with filing the reports. The outside contract will reduce staff time and furnish the public with easy-to-access information on who’s giving campaign funds to office seekers.Odd- vs. even-year electionsLundrigan’s office continues to deal with changes to election laws. It has been processing requests from Ceres and several school districts to move their elections from odd-numbered years to even years when statewide general elections are held. The driving force behind the move is Assembly Bill 415.The state bill prohibits local entities from holding odd-year elections if voter turnout has been 25 percent less than the average turnout for statewide general elections. Historically, the turnout for odd-year elections has been dismal in Stanislaus County.One issue considered is whether the county’s election equipment can handle a lot more elections held on even years. Lundrigan determined it can in a recent report to county supervisors on requests from the city of Ceres, Ceres Unified School District, Empire Union School District and Patterson Joint Unified School District to move away from odd-year elections.The Board of Supervisors approved those requests Feb. 28. Keyes Union School District, Hughson Unified School District and Riverbank Unified School District are also asking to move their elections.The Ceres City Council passed an ordinance to hold its elections in 2018 and 2020. Empire and Patterson Unified want to make the switch in 2018 but local entities can wait until 2022. Ceres Unified got approval to move away from odd years but still intends to hold elections in 2017 and 2019, Lundrigan said. Modesto has made no decision to abandon odd-year elections and will hold a election in November.With the switch to even-year elections, the ballot cards can be stretched from 14 to 19 inches, and Lundrigan’s office has the option of adding a second ballot card per election.Lundrigan said local elections on even-year ballots have “down ballot” status and the names of local candidates are not as prominent. It’s more likely that pattern voting will occur, in which people casting a vote for a big-name candidate for president or governor proceed to choose local candidates that are in the same position on the ballot, Lundrigan said.

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