UKIAH 4/10/22 — Mendocino County Assessor, County Clerk, Recorder Katrina Bartolomie, who oversees the administration of our local elections, called in to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, April 5, to caution candidates and voters against electioneering as we head into another pandemic-era primary. After ballots go out on May 9, California election codes prohibit political advocacy at polling places — including the elections office at the Mendocino County Administrative Center building on Low Gap Road, where the supervisors’ chambers are also located.
”My office has been busy with the upcoming June election, we have a few hot races locally in Mendocino County. We have the third and fifth district supervisor races, and the Superintendent of Schools race. Ballots go out May 9,” Bartolomie said. “I would like to remind our candidates and the public that there is no electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place, and our office here at the administrative center is considered a polling place. This year, Zoom and (Microsoft) Teams meetings are also included in electioneering.”
“Thank you for the reminder,” Board Chair Ted Williams said in response.
Bartolomie clarified in an email after the meeting that her office, and the portion of the administrative center that her office occupies, are considered a polling place. The rest of the building is not. That said, meetings of the Board of Supervisors and other county-level governing bodies are broadcast live on screens throughout the building — some of which are near the elections office.
“We consider that electioneering,” Bartolomie wrote. “We do not allow anyone in the building, once the ballots have gone out, to wear any hats, clothing, campaign buttons or name tags related to a campaign, nor are they allowed to park within 100 feet of our door with bumper stickers or campaign signs.”
These state election laws predate the Covid-19 pandemic, but in this instance teleconferencing technology appears to have extended long-standing restrictions on election activities inside the supervisors’ chambers into the private rooms from which we now participate in public meetings online.
Maybe they should turn off the monitors near the Clerk’s Office?
This is another good lesson in just how much government “values” freedom of speech.