Reclamation District No. 1000
General District Election Procedures
Effective in 2020, District Elections in Reclamation District No. 1000 are held on the second Tuesday of November, in even-numbered years. Seats on the District’s Board of Trustees are designated and elected as Parcel Seats (one vote per parcel); Assessment Seats (votes allocated according to assessment roll) or Resident Seats (one vote per resident). Water Code § 50780.2 et seq. The distribution of Parcel, Assessment, and Resident seats on the 7 member board is dictated by the proportionate land uses in the District, pursuant to Water Code § 50780.18. Votes are assigned to each parcel and voter according to the provisions of the Water Code, as follows:
· For a Parcel Seat: One vote per parcel owned, multiplied by the number of open Parcel Seats.
· For an Assessment Seat: One vote per dollar of assessment valuation, according to the District’s most recent Operations and Maintenance roll, multiplied by the number of open Assessment Seats.
· For a Resident Seat: One vote per District resident, multiplied by the number of open Resident Seats.
At present, the District’s Board of Trustees is composed of 4 Assessment Seats and 3 Parcel Seats. The provisions of Water Code 50780 et seq dictate the allocation of votes when each of these seats is open for election.
Pre-election procedures involve the preparation and mailing of ballots and the set-up of materials for canvassing the returned ballots. They are taken from the general election laws found at Election Code sections 4000 and following, wherever not inconsistent with the Reclamation Act election procedures.
1. Notice of General Election and Nominating Petitions. The District will publish a Notice of General Election and Notice of Nominating Petitions no later than 7 days before nominations are due to be submitted. Water Code § 50731.5. If the election includes the balance of an unexpired term, the notice shall state that the petition must indicate whether the nomination is for that unexpired term. This notice shall be published in a newspaper in each county in which any of the district lands are located, and posted in the District office.
2. Nomination for Office. In order to appear on the ballot, anyone desiring to run for trustee must file a nomination petition with the Secretary of the Reclamation District no earlier than 75 days before the election and no later than 5:00 p.m. 54 days before the election. Water Code § 50731.5. The petition must be signed by at least 5 qualified voters.
3. The Election Board. An election board consists of three landowners of the District, or their legal representatives, and shall include one inspector and two judges of election. The election board shall be appointed by the county board of supervisors at the request of the District. Water Code § 50700. District personnel will identify and recommend election board members, who may not be candidates or the family members of candidates. The Election Board members shall be responsible for overseeing the count of the ballots; ruling on disputes or challenges to a ballot; and ruling on disputes or challenges to the qualifications of a voter.
4. Oaths of Office. Each member of the Election Board shall take an oath of office before entering on his or her duties. The oath of office may be administered by any officer authorized to administer oaths. Water Code § 50750.
5. Publication of Notice of Election. If the number of nominees exceeds the number of available seats and an election is necessary, the District’s secretary shall give notice of the election by publishing a notice of election once a week for four weeks beginning not less than one month prior to the date of election in the same newspaper or newspapers used for publication of the notice calling for nomination petitions. Water Code § 50732.
6. Candidate Statement. Candidates may prepare a candidate’s statement that will be distributed to voters. The statement may include the name, age and occupation of the candidate and a brief description, of no more than 200 words, of the candidate’s education and qualifications. Election Code § 13307. If the candidate currently holds the office for which s/he is running, the word “incumbent” may be used instead of the candidate’s occupation. The statement may not state the party affiliation of the candidate and may not describe membership or activity in partisan political organizations. Election Code § 13307. The statement shall be filed at the same time as a candidate files nominating papers.
7. Ballots. The ballots shall give the names of the trustee candidates. Ballots shall be numbered consecutively and there should be sufficient extra ballots to permit the Election Board to replace spoiled ballots. Sufficient ballots should be prepared for the election at least 20 days prior to Election Day. Election Code § 10527.
8. Providing Ballots to Voters. The District shall deliver to each voter in the District a unique ballot; a return/identification envelope, with postage pre-paid; and a voter pamphlet containing candidate statements or any additional information necessary to cast votes. The identification envelope will include a declaration under penalty of perjury that the voter is eligible to cast votes in the RD 1000 election. The District shall be entitled to rely upon this declaration in determining the qualifications of voters. The District shall provide these materials to voters no earlier than 29 days before the date of the election and shall complete any mailing of ballots no later than 10 days before the date of the election. Election Code § 4101.
9. Consolidation of Ballots. When a Parcel Seat or Assessment Seat is up for election, the District may choose to consolidate the votes of a single landowner onto one ballot. For example, where one landowner owns 10 parcels, each entitled to one vote, the District in its discretion may choose to issue a single ballot with all 10 parcels and votes consolidated. The District may also, at the request of a landowner, cancel previously issued ballots before the close of polls in order to issue a single consolidated ballot for that landowner. In either circumstances, the particular parcels combined and/or ballots re-issued will be carefully recorded on the Voter List.
10. List of Voters. The Elections Official shall compile a list of the voters in the District, the date(s) on which each voter was sent a ballot in the mail, the number of votes to which the voter is entitled, and the date on which the ballot is returned. Election Code § 3013. The District shall send a second ballot to any voter upon receipt of the statement under penalty of perjury identified above. Election Code § 3014. The District shall verify, prior to counting any such duplicate ballot, that the voter has not attempted to vote twice. If so, both ballots shall be void. Election Code § 3014. The District shall make copies of this list available to all observers during the canvass of votes. Election Code § 15105.
11. Return of Ballots: Ballots must be returned to the District by the close of the polls on Election Day. By default, in-person polls close at 4 pm, although the District may choose to keep them open later. Mailed ballots must be received by 8 pm on Election Day, or postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than 3 days after Election Day. Election Code § 4103, Water Code § 50705. As ballots are returned, the Elections Board and/or Elections Official may verify that the return envelope has been signed, and mark the ballot/parcel as having been returned on the District’s Voter List. No identification/return envelope may be opened before the polls close on Election Day.
COUNTING OF BALLOTS
The District shall assemble at least 4 individuals to canvass the votes. Of these, one person will read from the ballot, one will keep watch for any error or improper vote, and the other two will keep the tally. The members of the Election Board may serve in any of these rolls. In the event of a disruption or impropriety, the Election Board Inspector may excuse anyone from canvassing votes and enforce that order. Election Code § 15152.
1. Commencing the Canvass: Counting may only begin after the closing of the polls. Election Code § 15152. The count must begin no later than the first Thursday after the General District Election. Election Code § 10547. Counting shall be public and continued until complete. Election Code § 15272. The ballot being read and the tally sheet must be within clear view of any watchers, but observers may not touch or handle the ballots. Election Code § 15272.
2. Addressing Challenges to Voters: The District will make a copy of the Voter List available for inspection by any person who may wish to challenge any voters. Election Code § 15105. All challenges must be made before the return envelopes are opened. This procedure protects the privacy of voters while allowing challenges to voters as required by law. A return/identification envelope may be challenged on the grounds that (1) the voter is not the owner or legal representative of an owner of land in the District; (2) that the parcel’s votes have already been cast; (3) that the ballot was not received within the time provided by the Elections Code; or (4) that the person signing is presently on parole or imprisoned for a felony, and therefore ineligible to vote. The challenger has the burden of establishing extraordinary proof of the validity of the challenge, because of the absence of the voter. Election Code § 15106. Any doubt in the interpretation of the law should be resolved in favor of the challenged voter. Election Code § 14251.
3. Resolving the Challenge: In the event of a challenge, the Elections Board will open the identification envelope containing the ballot in order to examine any certificate(s) of authority contained in the identification envelope. The Election Board may also examine any other materials required to determine the validity of the challenge. If a challenge is overruled, the ballot shall be counted. If a challenge is allowed, the board shall endorse on the face of the identification envelope the cause of the challenge and its action thereon. Election Code § 15108. After all challenges have been resolved and noted, the remaining envelopes may be opened, and the tally may begin.
4. Examination of Ballots: The Election Board will examine each ballot for irregularities. Ballots not marked as provided by law or marked so that they can be identified should be rejected. Election Code § 15154. Soiled ballots are valid, but ballots on which the choice of the voter is impossible to determine are not. Election Code § 15154. The Election Board shall be responsible for making a final determination on the admissibility of any ballot. Rejected ballots will be placed in a separate container. The reason for rejecting each rejected ballot must be written on the ballot. The Elections Board must sign each rejected ballot. Election Code § 15154 (a).
5. Tally of Votes: As the vote is read from the ballot, two canvassers will each record the votes cast on separate tally sheets. Election Code § 15277. If the tally must be suspended at any time, the tally sheets will be marked with the date and time that the tally was suspended, and will be placed with the remaining ballot materials in a secured and tamper-proof container, until such time as the count may be resumed. Immediately on completion of the tally, the persons keeping each tally shall draw two heavy lines from the last tally mark to the end of the line and initial the lines. The total number of votes for each candidate shall be recorded on the tally sheets in words and in figures. Election Code § 15277 (c).
6. Post Count Procedure: The Election Board will seal all voted, spoiled, canceled, and unused ballots; the tally sheets; the voter roster; and any record of challenges in one or more packages. Election Code §§ 14431, 14432. The District shall retain the ballots, tally sheets, and list of challenges for six months from the date of election. The voter roster will be preserved for 5 years following the election.
7. Official Canvass: The Election Board shall submit a certified statement of the results of the election to the District’s Board of Trustees. Election Code § 10551, Water Code § 50752. The statement shall show the total number of ballots cast and the number of votes cast for each candidate. Election Code § 15374.
8. Recounts: Within five days of the certification of the election results, any voter may file a written request for a recount of the election with the District. Election Code § 15620. The recount shall be conducted in public by a special recount board consisting of four landowners, supervised by the Election Board. Election Code §§ 15625, 15629. Before each day’s recount, the voter requesting a recount shall deposit with the District a sum required to cover the cost of the recount for that day. If the election result changes on the basis of the recount, the deposit shall be returned. If the election result does not change, the deposit in excess of the amount required for the recount shall be returned to the depositor. Election Code § 15624. The Election Board shall be responsible for ruling on any challenges to ballots during the recount, and its decision on any challenge is final. Election Code § 15631.