Scroll from the bottom up to read in chronological order. And if you haven’t already, check out our Super Tuesday Eve live blog right here.
8:01pm: That’s a Wrap.
And … scene. At least for this blog.
UPDATED ELECTION RESULTS ARE IN!
Ballots cast: 213,875
Total Registration: 951,292
— Registrar of Voters (@sccvote) March 4, 2020
But stay tuned for our watch party-and-results roundup.
7:36pm: Almost There.
By the by, in case you haven’t already, you might want to bookmark this page. That’s where the election results will start to roll in once the clock strikes 8:01pm.
7:05pm: Picture Proof.
We just cast a ballot in the board room of the Berryessa Union School District in North San Jose. A poll worker says 200-plus people voted here today so far.
There’s a row of four new Dominion machines. We try to snap a photo of them to post here on the blog, but another volunteer shouted at us to stop. Ah well. If you haven’t already seen them in person, you have 55 minutes until polls close to check ’em out.
6:39pm: Phone a Friend.
The Dems’ local HQ was a bit quiet when we popped by, but Party Chair Bill James says the phone banking turnout over the past few days has been great for a primary election.
“[In the primary, volunteers] pick one candidate that they really like or a couple that they really like and walk with their campaign or phone bank with the campaign,” he says. “We’re gearing up for the November election when we have actual nominees and a lot more people will come and do their phone banking for the party.”
Ever since the campaign shakeup this weekend that saw Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar drop out to throw their weight behind Joe Biden, James said they’ve been getting calls from people who already filled out their ballots and had yet to turn them in.
About that: If you haven’t turned in your ballot yet but checked the box for Mayor Pete or Klobocop, then you can swap it out in person for a new one.
Please don’t vote twice though. That, as always, is against the law.
And don’t forget: polls close at 8pm!
4:54pm: Machine Learning.
He had a paper ballot at home, but Michael Melillo thought he’d give touchscreen voting a whirl. For the first time ever, as part of the statewide Voter’s Choice initiative, the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters (ROV) allows people to case their ballots digitally.
“I wanted to see what people would be experiencing,” said Melillo, a former San Jose Unified trustee and data scientist by trade.
At a voting center by Fair Oak Park in Sunnyvale, he stepped up to the check-in table, where a poll worker had him fill out a form on a tablet. The poll worker downloaded that info onto a debit-card-looking piece of plastic with a chip. Then, Melillo took that card and slid it into one of the county’s new Dominion Voting Systems machines.
“Because of the card, it knows who you are,” he said. “Then, it walks you through the ballot one question at a time.”
What threw him off was the first prompt. Of the 20 names in the running for the office of U.S. president (yup: 20 in all), only about four showed up “above the fold,” so to speak. Top of the list was one Bernard Sanders. The rest on the screen were such no-names that Melillo can’t even remember who they were. “The screen doesn’t scroll like on your phone,” he said. “The touch screens don’t work like that. You have to tap a button on the bottom that says, ‘Touch to See More.’”
Tap on that prompt and you get the next dozen-or-so candidates.
“But you can’t see them all at once,” he said.
The guy next to Melillo was had the same problem. He was trying to vote for Joe Biden but couldn’t see him on the list. “I don’t know how tech-savvy the guy was,” Melillo said. “He was like 60 or 70 years old and I had to tell him how to get to the next page.”
The rest of the ballot was “pretty straightforward,” Melillo said. Even the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee races, which had dozens of candidates, was easier to read because the computer separated the names into multiple columns. “I feel like somebody built this and didn’t test the user interface,” he said.
Once he finished voting, a printer spit out a copy of the ballot—tracking number and all.
We reached out to ROV spokesman Eric Kurhi to find out if anyone else reported any confusion about the new machines. He said he hasn’t heard of any issues so far.
The ROV acquired 900 Dominion ImageCast X (ICX) ballot marking devices as part of “a whole system” it’s leasing for eight years to the tune of $13 million, Kurhi told us. “By whole system, I mean the touchscreens, as well as the high-speed ballot scanners, ballot printers, tabulation machines, workstations, etc.,” he said. “There’s a lot of other stuff.
Of those ballot-marking machines, 820 are deployed at the county’s 110 voting centers while the rest stay in reserve. Each vote center has about four of them on hand. “Basically, people make their selections on the touchscreen and then a paper ballot is printed out with their selections on it,” Kurhi explained in an email. “They then take that paper and put it in the same tabulator as the folks who vote a standard paper ballot.”
The county decided to lease the Dominion system instead of buying just in case there’s a need to upgrade. And about $5.6 million of the cost could be offset by a state reimbursement for voting tech modernization, he added.
Counties throughout the state have adopted similar systems. Have you tried them yet? If so, leave us a comment about how that worked out for you.
4:45pm: Every Vote Counts.
With three-and-half hours until polls close, the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters (ROV) reports that 25,160 people have cast their ballots in person today.
ROV spokeswoman Chipo Mulenga says that 254,385 county residents in all have voted in the March 3 primary, bringing voter turnout so far up to 26 percent. “We’re expecting a jump in numbers as well as the day goes by, especially with the vote by mail,” she said.
Most residents have chosen to cast their ballots by mail—more than 215,000, to be exact.
Mulenga says that none of the county’s 110 voting centers have encountered problems so far. Voters have until 8pm to cast their ballots and can register up until then in person.
4:04pm: This is a Little Too Easy.
We don’t even have to get our of our car now? For anyone trying to avoid the coronavirus, maybe stay away from those germy touchscreens and try drive-through voting instead.
3:25pm: San Jose Sandernistas.
Ash Kalra was feeling the Bern.
The California assemblyman, who represents the South Bay’s 27th District and is running for re-election, joined students today at San Jose State to drum up some last-minute support for the Democratic front runner.
“I support Bernie Sanders because look at where we are in the Capital of Silicon Valley,” Kalra said. “The most wealth of any region in the world, and yet we have the most severe income inequality. We have homeless, we have families living three, four to a home just to be able to survive. That’s not an economic system that’s sustainable or just.”
— Grace Hase (@grace_hase) March 3, 2020
After meeting at the foot of the Tommie Smith and John Carlos statue, a dozen students marched and chanted their way to the Martin Luther King Jr. Library, where the university has its first-ever voting center. Along the way, as they paraded through downtown, they reminded fellow classmates it wasn’t too late to register to vote.
The march took place just two days after Sanders appeared in San Jose for a rally that packed the big tent at the convention center on Market Street. And it took place just a day after Sanders surrogate Shaun King appeared at the campaign’s San Jose headquarters.
Great to have @shaunking stop by the San Jose @BernieSanders campaign office today! We appreciate Shaun traveling throughout California to help energize the thousands of volunteers activated throughout our state for the final Super Tuesday push for the #NotMeUs Movement! pic.twitter.com/6twvnzNwgm
— Ash Kalra (@Ash_Kalra) March 3, 2020
One of the student organizers of the march this afternoon—Viveka Jagadeesan, who turns 26 in September—said she supports Sanders because she has a chronic illness.
“I’m really hoping for some quality medical care and that’s a really important issue for me,” she said. “And Bernie is the candidate that really represents me and my generation, people like me, people that are disenfranchised, working people. He’s our guy.”
1:55pm: Right in the Feels.
Need a little #GOTV inspo set to a swelling, symphonious soundtrack that tugs at the heartstrings? The ROV’s got you covered.
1:28pm: Party People.
If you’re a registered Democrat, your ballot for today’s election is dominated by names in a contest that most voters know little-to-nothing about.
In Santa Clara County, there’s a grand total of 56 people running for 24 seats in four districts on the local Democratic Party board.
The list of candidates reads like a who’s-who of Silicon Valley politics: county Supervisor Joe Simitian, Milpitas Councilman Anthony Phan, county Board of Education Trustee Peter Ortiz and San Jose Councilwoman Maya Esparza.
There’s also a host of aides to other local politicos. In today’s ballot, we see Assemblyman Evan Low’s District Director Patrick Ahrens, San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco’s Community Relations Director Omar Torres, San Jose Councilman Sergio Jimenez’s Policy Director Helen Chapman, and so on.
Of all the local races, it’s hardest to find info on this one. So, here’s a quick explainer.
The board, known as the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee (or DCC) tackles the mundane-but-vital drudgery of building the party ranks. It recruits new voters, raises money and organizes phone banking in swing states to whoop President Trump and his Republican allies.
“Endorsements are a big part of what we do,” said Bill James, president of the Santa Clara County Democratic Party.
On the national level, the DNC endorses. On the state level, here in California, that would be the CDP. For all races that fall entirely within county lines, those endorsements become the responsibility of the local central committees.
“The second thing are the resolutions, which can sometimes seem a little esoteric,” James said. “But those are really important because they generally address issues that we want a local office to take action on.”
Jean Cohen, a state delegate for the California Democratic Party who’s also running for a county DCC seat in the 27th Assembly District, said board members are the lifeblood of the organization. “It’s a formal elected position,” she said. “You make policy endorsements and have other roles and responsibilities.”
Cari Templeton, who’s running for the DCC, said she enjoyed being involved in the party’s endorsement process over the past few years as a club rep for the Bayshore Progressive Democrats. Becoming an elected member of the central committee would renew her commitment, she said, and give progressives a stronger voice in the party.
“For a lot of us club leaders, this is like the next step up,” she said. “I’m really excited.”
Granted, she adds, the job still takes hard work and pays nothing.
That’s why the county DCC has historically been the realm of grassroots activists. It’s a great proving ground for newbs, a place where future politicos can cut their teeth.
So why, then, do elected officials crowd out newcomers by even running for these seats?
Well, among other reasons, sitting on the board is a good way to snag endorsements. It’s also a way to raise money in excess of contribution limits for local office.
The max you can donate to a county supervisor is $1,000 in these parts. But if that county supervisor also runs for the DCC? You can pitch in $5,000 to support a bid for what’s essentially a volunteer position. There are also looser disclosure requirements for any fundraising less than $2,000, according to party officials.
Elected leaders have other motivations for running, of course. Unlike state lawmakers who get an automatic vote on the central committee, local electeds have to run for the privilege of a board position.
“It gives you a more direct voice as a party member,” James explained.
Templeton said she’s fine with that, but would hope that there’s always a place for grassroots activists like herself. “We do want our elected to be involved,” she said. “But the best thing is to make sure that we have a diverse range of experience.”
For a list of the who’s-who who’re running, click here.
Oh, and P.S.
Similar contests exist for other parties, but they only appear on the ballot if you’re registered with said political group and if the number of open seats matches or exceeds the number of candidates. Local Republicans will see 47 candidates running in five districts. The Green Party has eight in the running for a seat on its local board. Since Dems rule the day out here, those contests are generally less consequential.
12:15pm: It’s Go Time.
Super Tuesday got off to a strong start in Santa Clara County with more than 8,000 voters casting their ballots by noon.
Steven Spivak, spokesman for the county Registrar of Voters (ROV), said 233,187 ballots have come in since voting centers opened on Feb. 22.
Right now, about 24 percent of the county’s 955,524 registered voters have dropped off ballots or voted in person. Spivak said they expect the overall turnout to be anywhere from 45 to 55 percent when the polls close tonight at 8.
“We encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote,” Spivak said. “Everyone in the county under the Voter’s Choice Act implemented in this election for the first time in the county saw a vote by mail ballot sent to every single registered voter for the first time.”
If you haven’t cast your ballot, don’t fret.
You can vote in person or drop it off at 110 voting centers throughout the county. And if you’re not registered, you can register today (or re-register to change parties) in person.
To find out where your nearest polling place is, visit www.sccvote.org or call 408.299.8683 or 866.430.8683.