With the June 7 statewide main election a month away, The Daily Democrat will probably be asking Yolo County candidates 5 questions, permitting them to articulate what challenges or points they really feel they should deal with when or if they’re elected.
Jesse Salinas, Yolo County’s chief election official, shared the teachings and experiences he’s gained throughout his time operating elections for the county.
Salinas was appointed as the county assessor, clerk-recorder and chief election official by the Yolo County Board of Supervisors in 2016 after serving 10 years as the county’s principal administration analyst in each the administrator’s workplace and division of monetary providers. He is operating to proceed to fill these positions and is unopposed.
Q: How has your experience as an election official by means of a number of elections — together with final 12 months’s recall election on Gov. Gavin Newsom — elevated your understanding of California’s electoral course of and what could possibly be performed to make the method simpler for Yolo County’s voters?
A: Since coming into this place, I acquire perspective from each election. Experiencing election administration by means of a pandemic and a recall election solely expanded my crew’s capability to pivot and adapt to how ever-changing elections and the election course of could be. We have used every experience to additional problem our course of and enhance it for Yolo County voters, together with launching a Vote Center “like” mannequin and now totally transitioning to the Voter’s Choice Act mannequin for the upcoming 2022 main.
Q: Considering the quantity of scrutiny given to the election course of after the 2020 Presidential election, what efforts have you ever made to make sure Yolo County voters perceive that the way in which votes are counted are performed so pretty with as little error doable?
A: I’ve all the time ensured that our course of is totally clear. I consider that once we invite the general public to come back and look at our course of and see firsthand how issues are dealt with it helps them perceive the method and eliminates any doable fears. I all the time attempt to conduct a good, equitable and clear election and that may by no means change. Some of the next are examples of particular issues now we have performed together with buying new voter gear and an election administration system, repeatedly updating our voter information, signature coaching for all workers and transparency by means of communication/invites to watch.
Q: What have been a number of the bigger challenges you’ve confronted throughout your time in your place and the way did you overcome them?
A: Some of the bigger challenges have been navigating profitable election administration throughout a pandemic. The uncertainty and fixed change was troublesome, nonetheless, my small however mighty crew overcame all of the challenges! I needed to strategize with the crew on how we may proceed to make voting accessible and secure for Yolo County. Obtaining volunteers post-pandemic was additionally difficult. We labored laborious to make sure continued security, developed completely different advertising methods and partnerships — together with working with native jurisdictions — and ran a number of the most profitable elections in the course of the pandemic on the subject of voter turnout.
Q: You talked about earlier than that the Elections Office bought iPhones and developed an app to make sure staff are in a position to talk any issues or request further gear if wanted. How did this app — and every other growth you helped implement — assist your workplace obtain the National EAC Clearinghouse Award for “Best Practices in Election Administration.”
A: The app was an revolutionary development now we have made and it has assisted with election day logistics. The app retains everybody knowledgeable on what points are arising, what provides are wanted and updates present wait instances at voting places. Wait instances help the general public to know what voting places could also be experiencing longer wait instances. Yolo County was one among six jurisdictions nationally to be acknowledged by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission for Outstanding Innovation in Election Administration. Yolo County was acknowledged for harnessing expertise to enhance polling place assets and response time, strengthening voter communications and rising future turnout.
Q: How nicely has the Elections Office been in a position to transition to a voting system that depends extra closely on voting by mail than earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: We have transitioned very nicely. We launched a Vote Center “like” mannequin in prior elections and now are totally transitioning to the Voter’s Choice Act on this upcoming election. Total votes solid in Yolo County within the 2020 General Election reached a document excessive – roughly 83% voter turnout. The 2021 Recall election noticed record-high voter turnout for that sort of election as nicely. Our evaluation has proven that the pattern to vote by mail inside Yolo County has steadily been rising even earlier than the pandemic. The techniques now we have in place are greater than in a position to accommodate the upper variety of Yolo County voters who select to vote by mail and have additional elevated voters’ accessibility to solid their poll and how you can return it — together with returning ballots through poll dropbox.