How can I be sure my ballot counts?
On the eve of the general election, one local candidate is urging voters to check their polling places after he discovered an apparent problem with his own voting location through the California Secretary of State website.
Andrew Janz, the Fresno Democrat running against Tulare Republican Devin Nunes for Congress, originally said his polling place was changed from The Falls Event Center on Figarden Drive to Forkner Elementary School without any prior notice from the Fresno County Elections office.
Janz’s voter guide listed The Falls, The Bee confirmed. He sent out a tweet that almost immediately went viral, with more than 11,000 shares in a matter of hours.
However, Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth checked Janz’s voter registration information and told The Bee his polling place had not changed. In fact, Orth said, no polling place in the county has been changed since Sept. 1. All voter ballots and information guides are accurate, she added.
Orth said it is quite common for polling places to change from election to election, noting that Fresno County had a particularly large ballot this year. But she stressed that no polling places were changed without notice, as Janz’s campaign had tweeted.
Tulare County Registrar Michelle Baldwin echoed Orth’s statements: Polling places have not been changed on residents without notice.
Janz had used the My Voter Status page on the Secretary of State’s website, which he said was the first page that popped up when he searched Google. It requires a voter to input their driver’s license number and other personal information and allows them to view a variety of information, including their precinct and polling place.
That page displayed Forkner, which Orth confirmed was incorrect for Janz’s precinct. The Bee checked the website and confirmed that Janz’s polling place was incorrectly listed.
The Secretary of State has another page, Find Your Polling Location, which pegged Janz’s polling location at The Falls – meaning different sections of the state website displayed conflicting polling information.
Sam Mahood, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, said the issue was resolved after The Bee’s inquiry.
“This was a case of Fresno County not completing the process of uploading polling place data for the November 2018 Election to VoteCal, the statewide voter registration database that makes the ‘My Voter Status’ tool possible,” Mahood said. “Our office reached out, and the correct data should now be uploaded.”
The Bee rechecked Janz’s information after Mahood’s response and confirmed that the My Voter Status page now displayed his correct polling place.
Mahood said that June 2018 polling data was showing up in the My Voter Status page, meaning some voters may have seen the wrong polling place listed if their polling place moved since the primary and if they checked the page any time between June and Monday.
Orth said her office had uploaded the correct information on Oct. 11 and sent an email to the Secretary of State to confirm this, but added that the important thing was the issue was now fixed.
Janz campaign manager Heather Greven said Monday afternoon that, after several hours of staff work, she had confirmed that no polling places had changed as Janz had previously tweeted.
“It was just dumb luck that Janz happened to use the (My Voter Status) link, which we’ve been tweeting out for months,” Greven said. “I am going to do my best to erase that link from our Twitter feed.”
Greven said she advised Janz not to delete his initial tweet, noting that the information and buzz was already out there. Instead, he corrected the initial tweet with new information.
The campaign urged its followers to check their status using the Find Your Polling Location website.
The deadline to register in California has passed, but anyone not registered who wishes to vote may do so on Monday by visiting their county elections office.
Those who are without reliable transportation to their polling place can received discounted rides from rideshare companies Lyft (promo code: VOTECA1) and Uber (promo code: VOTE2018).
If you need more information to guide your decision making on election day, The Bee has spent over a year covering the Valley’s most prominent races. You may also find recommendations from The Bee’s editorial board, which is independent of the news gathering operation, here.
The Sacramento Bee has a comprehensive guide to state races here:
Here’s a look at early voting numbers in the central San Joaquin Valley’s congressional races:
22nd Congressional District
s out Janz for campaigning during work hours. Smittcamp defends Janz
21st Congressional District
16th Congressional District
Proposition 6 (state gas tax rollback)
Measure P (Fresno city parks initiative)