SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - Final results from the June 5 Statewide Primary Election have been reported and Sacramento County’s first election under the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) is one for the books. We sat down with Alice Jarboe, Interim Registrar of Voters for Sacramento County, to catch up on how the election went and learn more about what we can expect for future elections.
How did it go?
With Sacramento County being the largest of the five counties to implement the VCA beginning with the June Primary Election, the pressure was on. The implementation took months and months of planning and coordination by all Sacramento County Department of Voter Registration and Elections (DVRE) staff and what resulted, was a very successful election where voter turnout reached 42 percent, significantly surpassing the 2014 Statewide Primary Election of 29.6 percent.
Voters in Sacramento County were very receptive to the new voting model and took advantage of the Vote by Mail option, returning a record breaking amount, higher than the past three Primary Elections. In fact, based on the results from the Voter Experience Survey, 79 percent of respondents said they were very satisfied or satisfied with their overall voting experience.
What were the top three questions the department received?
What security measures were taken?
Every precaution was taken to safeguard the system and all data is housed on a secure closed network with no internet connection. Additionally, access to the system and ballots is limited to authorized employees under 24/7 surveillance and all staff, both permanent and temporary are sworn in as election officers and anytime there is a ballot in the room, there are always two or more people present.
When will the ballots be processed and counted?
This year, the results released on election night were different than in years past. While they still included any Vote by Mail (VBM) ballots received by June 2, the difference was the low volume of in-person votes from Vote Centers. In total, there were only 18,104 in-person votes and 106,505 VBM ballots to report election night. Since the majority of voters waited until June 5 to return their VBM ballot, those were not included in the initial results but counted in the days and weeks after the election.
It’s important to remember that getting timely received Vote by Mail ballots through the verification processes such as comparing signatures, separating ballots from envelopes, unfolding the ballots and finally, counting them, does take time. For those concerned with how long it took to release final results, this election was actually certified faster than the November 2014, June 2016 and November 2016 elections.
What are the hours of operation and locations of Drop Boxes and Vote Centers?
Under the VCA, traditional polling places were replaced with 78 Vote Centers where voters could go to any open location to register, drop their ballot off or vote in person. Additionally, we more than tripled the number of secure Drop Box locations.
Although we do encourage residents to make a plan for how they want to return their ballot, there was some confusion over Drop Box locations hours of operation. Since these were inside the designated facilities, they were only accessible during the facilities business hours but moving forward, we will be working with facilities to have more uniform hours for all the locations. Additionally, we will be redesigning the maps and reference pages in the CVIG and VBM packet to more clearly provide that information to voters.
What can we expect for future elections?
Higher voter turnout. This is an incredibly exciting time and we expect to see increased voter turnout in the November 2018 election. As more voters become familiar with the new voting model, we anticipate more VBM ballots being returned so we are working to prepare for that.
Additional outreach. Based on my 20 years of experience at DVRE, I have found that it takes at least two to three elections for voters to really acclimate to voting changes. As this is the case, we will continue our efforts to educate all residents in Sacramento County about the changes to voting under the VCA and all of the opportunities available to them.
With the November election around the corner, Sacramento County residents can expect to see additional outreach in the coming months. For more information about upcoming elections, registration information or the VCA, visit DVRE’s website.
Source: SacCounty News
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Unions
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - This week the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Janus v. AFSCME that government workers can no longer be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining, dealing a heavy financial blow to public sector unions.
This revokes a 41-year-old decision that required employees to pay union fees to the state unions that represented them whether or not the workers chose to join.
Mark Janus works as a child-support specialist for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Janus, who is not a union member, challenged the $45 per month that is deducted from his paycheck. That deduction goes to the local branch of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
Janus argued that any form of required payment to cover the cost of collective bargaining violates the First Amendment because it finances speech by the union intended to influence the government.
The unions argued that their alleged fair share fees pay for collective bargaining and other work the union does on behalf of all employees, not just its members. More than half the states already have right-to-work laws in place that ban mandatory fees, but most members of public-employee unions heavily populate the states that do not, including New York, California and Illinois.
The court’s final ruling states:
“Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.” (p. 48)
The unions believe that the outcome could affect more than five million government workers across roughly two dozen states and the District of Columbia. Those workers’ paychecks are heavily funded by the unauthorized dues collected from employees like Janus around the country. A 2015 national report showed that the average union president makes $170,000 annually in states with compulsory dues but only $132,000 in states with voluntary dues – a $38,000 difference.
“Supreme Court rules in favor of non-union workers who are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the Union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!” President Donald Trump tweeted after the 5-4 vote. The court ruled that the laws violate the First Amendment by forcing workers to support and pay unions they disagree with.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for the millions of workers who should not be forced to pay into a union as a condition of employment,” said Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach). “I applaud the Supreme Court for taking the first step to give public employees more control over their paychecks.
“In California, we should build upon this ruling to pass right-to-work policies that protect the freedom of choice for all employees. While I praise the victory of Janus, California Democrats and unions continue to install barriers that obstruct workers from opting out of unions.”
SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Cal Expo Police Chief Robert Craft has retired after 40 years of outstanding and dedicated service to the Cal Expo Police Department. While former-Chief Craft enjoys his well-deserved retirement, the California Exposition and State Fair has begun the process to recruit a new Chief of Police, which could take 4 to 6 months. With the 2018 California State Fair slated to start onJuly 13, and in an effort to maintain continuity in its Police and Security Department, Cal Expo believed it prudent to select a temporary Acting Chief of Police. After conducting interviews and performing reference checks, Cal Expo announced that Joe Robillard has been selected to serve as Cal Expo’s Acting Chief of Police.
Mr. Robillard has worked at Cal Expo since 2007 and has many years of law enforcement experience, including 13 years with the Yuba City Police Department, 20 years with the CA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and 3 years with the State Lottery. Mr. Robillard has been an integral part of the Cal Expo police and security operations throughout the last 11 CA State Fairs.
More specifically, Mr. Robillard began his career at the Yuba City Police department as a young Police Officer and worked his way up to the position of Watch Commander. He then moved into State service with ABC as an Investigator and over time became the Chief of the Professional Standards Unit. He was subsequently appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger and then Governor Brown to serve as the Deputy Director of the Security and Law Enforcement Division for the State Lottery. Given his experience at the local regional and State level, he brings a wealth of strong relationships with management personnel at other law enforcement agencies throughout Northern California. Cal Expo is very pleased to have a person of his background, experience and proven leadership to serve as Cal Expo’s Acting Chief of Police.
“Chief Craft devoted his long and distinguished career to providing for the safety and security of everyone at the California Exposition & State Fair," said Robillard, "I am honored to serve as the Acting Chief of Police and will strive to continue the high level of public safety that Chief Craft so proudly developed and consistently provided.”
Cal Expo congratulates Joe Robillard as he assumes the role of Acting Chief of Police, effective immediately.
Nearly 47 million Americans will travel this Independence Day, an all-time record
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - AAA projects a record-breaking 46.9 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles to celebrate Independence Day this summer, the highest total since AAA began tracking holiday travel 18 years ago. That’s 5 percent more than the 44 million Americans who traveled for the patriotic celebration in 2017, which was the previous national record.
More than 5.43 million Californians are projected to travel over the Fourth of July holiday, representing an increase of 5.3 percent from last year, according to the travel source. That’s also a new state record, breaking California’s previous high of 5.16 million travelers set in 2017.
“Fourth of July is typically the busiest summer travel holiday, but this year is an all-time whopper,” said Michael Blasky, spokesperson for AAA Northern California. “Despite the highest gas prices in four years, more Californians will be taking to the road and the skies next month to celebrate America’s birthday than ever.”
The Independence Day holiday period is defined as Tuesday, July 3, to Sunday, July 8.
By the Numbers: Independence Day California Travel Forecast
5,434,994 Californians are expected to travel over the upcoming holiday weekend, almost 300,000 more than in 2017, which was the previous all-time high for the Golden State.
Higher fuel prices aren’t slowing Californians down. The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is nearly 70 cents higher than in 2017, but 4.2 million Californians will drive to their destination -- nearly 80 percent of the state’s total travelers.
Travelers will pay less for airfare in 2018, but more for car rentals and hotels. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, travelers taking to the skies will pay an average $171 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes. That is the lowest Independence Day airfare in five years, and 9 percent less than last year.
“The current economic landscape including strong employment, rising incomes and consumer confidence is helping to boost the number of planned getaways over the second three-day weekend of the summer,” Blasky said.
AAA expects to rescue more than 362,000 motorists across the country over Independence Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. Before heading out of town, AAA recommends drivers take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility for a thorough inspection and perform needed maintenance.
AAA offers a variety of mobile travel resources including AAA Mobile, a free app for Smartphone users. The app uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, locate nearby discounts, summon roadside assistance, find current gas prices and more. Travelers can learn more about this resource at AAA.com/mobile.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.
AAA Northern California is the best roadside assistance solution, offering the fastest response times and highest satisfaction rates in the industry. The club also provides discounts, financial services, driver training resources and is a leading advocate for the motoring and traveling public. Visit www.AAA.com.
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) happily announced their $20 Student Monthly Pass is now on sale as a K-12 Student Two-Month Summer Pass for just $30.00 – a 25% reduction over the already recently reduced student pass! Passes are valid for unlimited bus, light rail and SmaRT Ride service for both July and August. Passes on sale on SacRT mobile fare app ZipPass or the Connect Card. Visit SacRT.com for more information
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Fourth of July is around the corner and for many outdoor enthusiasts, it is the perfect time for camping, hiking and swimming with family and friends. California State Parks wants our visitors to recreate safely and enjoy their time by keeping their loved ones safe.
Because the hot summer weather invites many people to head into the water, whether it be in lakes, rivers or the ocean, it is important to protect loved ones from accidental drownings. Drowning is the fifth leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S. About 10 people die from unintentional drownings every day, but can easily be prevented by learning water safety and lifesaving techniques.
Below you will find 10 tips to stay safe during this Fourth of July holiday:
Additional safety tips and information on laws can be found online at www.parks.ca.gov/safetytips.
With over 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites, and 4,500 miles of trails, California State Parks contains the largest and most diverse recreational, natural, and cultural heritage holdings of any state agency in the nation with 280 state parks. More than 67 million people annually visit California's state park system. Invent your adventure online at www.parks.ca.gov.
SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) today issued the following statement regarding the Democrat majority-vote budget bill:
“I tip my hat to Governor Brown and his Democrat allies in the legislature; they can spend money faster and more irresponsibly than any group of people I’ve ever seen. This budget is – again – the biggest in Golden State history. We keep spending more and more but not getting better roads, better schools, or better anything besides wealthier public employee unions.”
“Brown had the nerve to point to a piggybank during his budget presentation, and to imply that he has saved the state some amazing amount of money since he’s been in office. That’s a farce! With just a bit of fiscal discipline we could have filled a dozen of those piggybanks. Brown taxed more and then Brown spent more. He was the most predictable big-spending Democrat to ever roam the Capitol halls.”
“The Governor himself has repeatedly warned that another recession is headed our way. Instead of heeding that warning, we are increasing spending by billions to pay for things like the absurd High Speed Rail project, a minimum wage increase and pushing a billion-dollar makeover for the state capitol.”
“We are so dependent on Silicon Valley’s economic miracle that it’s frightening. Their prosperity obscures huge problems in the rest of the state, and our highly-progressive tax system means that if Silicon Valley coughs, the state budget catches pneumonia. A slight downturn could send us into a fiscal crisis in Sacramento. Far from being recession proof, we would be recession toast.”
“This is a budget that guarantees higher taxes for families around the state. Is it any wonder that working-class people are fleeing California as fast as they can load their U-Hauls? How could they want to stay when their government treats them like ATMs? Democrats force them to pay the highest sales taxes, highest income taxes, some of the highest gas taxes and property taxes in the nation, and then celebrate when and brag about how much this year’s budget ‘invests.’ For once, I wish the Democrats would spend less and let the people invest in themselves.
“This is Governor Brown’s last budget and thankfully so. He’s spent 8 years talking about fiscal discipline and prudence while supporting new taxes, fees and spending at every turn. He’s leaving behind a legacy of poverty, massive homelessness, and fiscal recklessness.”
Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties.