County registrars across the Bay Area say they’ve received hundreds of calls from concerned voters who fear they won’t be able to participate in the March 3 presidential primary election after a potential flaw in the state’s new registration system changed their political affiliation to "no party preference."
But election officials in San Mateo County assure the registration error will not hinder any of their voters thanks in part to a new state law that let’s residents in select counties register to vote at any voting center all the way up until the polls close on election day.
"We provide a higher level of opportunity to vote and register to vote than most counties," said Jim Irizarry, assistant chief elections officer for San Mateo County. "Voter confusion does not help anyone. However, I believe we have enough time in the process right now that voters will be informed and be able to adjust to those questions."
San Mateo is one of 15 counties throughout the state that conducts elections under the Voter’s Choice Act.
The 2016 law designed to increase voter turnout eliminates the traditional polling place election model in favor of an All-Mailed Ballot system. This also allows voters to register all the way through election day, instead of the usual deadline 15 days before an election.
"There’s a variety of avenues that voters can pursue," Irizarry said. "Primarily, it’s just calling your registrar of voters or going to the Secretary of State website and correcting that problem."
San Mateo is the only county in the Bay Area that holds elections under the Voter’s Choice Act. Residents in the other eight Bay Area counties who want to vote but miss the deadline to register can fill out a conditional voter registration form at a designated county office.