music in the park san jose

Councilman Bob Dillon has gone out on a political limb to make a
good point. It shouldn’t cost the city of Gilroy $1,538 to include
Dillon’s 200-word ballot statement in the official Sample Ballot.
And it won’t.
Councilman Bob Dillon has gone out on a political limb to make a good point. It shouldn’t cost the city of Gilroy $1,538 to include Dillon’s 200-word ballot statement in the official Sample Ballot. And it won’t.

Dillon is protesting the absurd cost – $475 for handling, $350 fee for typesetting, $313 for printing costs

and $400 for translation into four languages other than English – by choosing to forgo a ballot statement in his re-election bid. It’s a thrifty move voters should appreciate not only for the cost savings, but for the message it sends.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters fees are way out of line.

Recovering costs is one thing, pricing people out of running for local elected office is quite another.

The issue of overcharging has become so serious that the the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury took it up with regards to school board candidates and found: “A large majority of school board candidates … found the fee to place a written statement of qualification on the Sample Ballot to be either a disincentive or a financial hardship.”

In some cases, candidates were required to spend nearly $7,000 for the ballot statement. Why? Well, the Registrar of Voters says the high costs are due to federal voting regulations which require printing the statements in various languages. And, since the Board of Supervisors laid down the law that all costs are to be recouped, the numbers, they say, are the numbers.

The problem is that those numbers are not conducive to democracy. Pricing people out of public service surely is not our societal goal.

The Registrar of Voters office is trying to get a handle on costs. The postcard registered voters received in the mail asking for a language preference on the Sample Ballot is the main thrust of that effort.

Unless that effort results in huge savings, the costs to run for office will still be too high.

The Board of Supervisors must come up with a well-crafted compromise and set a reasonable flat fee for the ballot statement: $500 is a good number to start at. That’s still a hefty $2.50 a word, but it seems like a good place to start the discussion.

Also, the Registrar’s numbers – $350 for typesetting 200 words, for example – need to be thoroughly scrutinized.

Ours should be a county of equal opportunity for those interested in public service. Encouraging candidates to run should be high on the priority list. Don’t we need more candidates to choose from?

The fee structure in place is not only discouraging, in many cases it’s prohibitive. It’s a dagger in the belly of democracy that simply doesn’t need to be there.

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