"Akit is the man. He knows Clipper." (spenta)
"It’s a fantastic blog for any San Franciscan."
"Your blog is always on point, and well researched!" (Nina Decker)
"Everyone's favorite volunteer public policy consultant..." (Eve Batey, SF Appeal)
"You are doing a great job keeping on top of Translink stuff. Keep up the good work!"
(Greg Dewar, N Judah Chronicles)
"...I don't even bother subscribing anywhere else for my local public transportation info. You have it all..."
(Empowered Follower)
"If anyone at City Hall wants to make public transit better for all San Franciscans, it would be wise to follow Akit religiously...
or, better yet, give him a job."
(Brock Keeling, SFist)

Monday, May 6, 2013

500 Page SF Elections Paper Ballot Book - How to Get it E-Mailed & Get Spammed Too

Election Day comes back on November 5th to San Francisco, and while it usually means we vote for candidates and proposals for propositions, you'll be getting something huge in the mail: Your ballot book.

If you are familiar with ballot books, it's basically what every person registered to vote gets in the mail prior to every election.  The books contain the procedures and policies about voting, candidate statements, proposition statements, and plenty more.  In most cases, the booklets are no more than a quarter inch thick using very thin paper to cut down on weight and postage costs.

But for the November 5th elections, your booklet will be roughly 400-500 pages, with a huge chunk going towards a local proposition for a luxury condo property at 8 Washington.  By law, the city has to publish the text of the referendum and that contains hundreds of pages that likely a majority of citizens will simply throw into their recycling bin.

What does that mean to me?  If I receive that, I just look at the sample ballot and maybe the briefing of each ballot measure, than simply dump it in the recycling bin.

But... there is a choice for us voters, we can ask the city to skip on the paper ballot books and review it online.  When you opt-in for electronic ballot boks, you get an e-mail from the city that gives you the link to the ballot book online.

It's a great idea, help the city go green by cutting back on the paper printing, especially when your ballot book will be the size of a telephone book.

However, there's a dark side to giving the city your e-mail address:
"The email address provided on this form will be kept confidential pursuant to Section 6254.4 of the California Government Code and Section 2194 of the California Elections Code, and legally may be provided to a candidate for office, a ballot measure committee, or other person for election, scholarly, journalistic, political, or governmental purposes, as determined by the Secretary of State." (Source: SF Elections opt-out paper ballot book online sign-up)
What this basically tells me is that if I give the city government my e-mail address to cut down on paper waste, there is the possibility that political candidates and proposition pro/opponents will be harassing me via e-mail telling me to "vote for this" and "my opponent is a scumbag?"

Like I need more junk mail in my inbox.  I'm already sick of the phone calls at 8:45PM.  Thanks politicians for passing an elections law that allows you to spam the crap out of my e-mail box; you voted for it because you liked it so you can tell us who or what to vote for, but for us citizens, we hate it.

Here's an alternative the city could do, but it will cost some money: People can opt-out of a paper ballot, but they would instead get a post card telling citizens to visit the elections website to obtain the electronic ballot book; by doing it this way, we don't have to give out our e-mail address.

No comments: