California’s Secretary of State Sending Election Monitors to San Francisco

Update: KQED’s Katrina Schwartz called the Secretary of State’s office for comment.

Nicole Winger, a spokesperson for the California Secretary of State, said that after receiving concerns from “a range of San Franciscans” about potential improprieties in today’s mayoral election, the state decided to send an undisclosed number of observers to “be extra eyes and ears on the ground.”

“Enough concerns were raised about potential misunderstandings of election law or potential improprieties that we thought it would be helpful to send some Secretary of State staff over to San Francisco to help out and make sure things go smoothly today,” explained Winger.

She wouldn’t say how many observers were sent or where they are, but she did say that they would be dropping into various polling places around the city to make sure election laws are being followed. There are 40 counties holding elections — some bigger than others — throughout California today, but observers were only sent to San Francisco.

(Bay City News) California’s Secretary of State office will be sending monitors to San Francisco to oversee today’s election, a spokeswoman said Monday.

State oversight of the election was requested by several mayoral candidates following allegations last month that an independent group supporting interim Mayor Ed Lee engaged in voter ballot fraud in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Secretary of state spokeswoman Nicole Winger said the secretary “sends election observers from time to time.”

Winger declined to say how many monitors would be sent, but said they would work in coordination with the local elections office and will visit various polling places around the city.

San Francisco is the only jurisdiction where the state monitors will be sent this year, Winger said.

She said San Francisco was also among 12 counties where observers were sent in last November’s statewide election.

The letter requesting oversight for this year’s race came after members of the campaign of state Sen. and mayoral candidate Leland Yee took videos that appeared to show a group helping elderly voters fill out ballots at a makeshift polling station and alleged that the group was using stencils to guide voters to mark Lee for mayor.

Yee said in a statement that he welcomed the monitors.

Matt Dorsey, spokesman for the mayoral campaign of City Attorney

Dennis Herrera, said they too were pleased to have additional oversight.

Lee’s campaign spokesman Tony Winnicker said they were also “very glad that the secretary of state is sending observers,” who he said “will help ensure the integrity of the election process and that every vote counts.”

Polling places will be open around the city from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. Along with the mayor’s race, voters will decide on a district attorney and sheriff, as well as several propositions.

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Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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