The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters mailed ballots this week to the 42,084 registered voters in the Palo Alto Unified School District who are being asked to vote on a $758 parcel tax to support the district's schools.
The parcel tax, again dubbed Measure A, would raise the $638 per-parcel tax that voters now pay by $120, to $758 per parcel. The tax would begin on July 1 and last six years with 2 percent annual increases. Voters last approved an increase in 2010 under that year's Measure A, which brought a $589 parcel tax also with automatic annual increases of 2 percent.
The Board of Education approved the renewed tax in late January, and has continued to highlight since the critical importance of the estimated $14.7 million in revenue the tax would generate in the 2015-16 school year.
The parcel tax would support district efforts in student health and wellness efforts, academic supports for struggling students and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) instruction.
Specific investments would include family and student counseling services, physical wellness efforts, expanded nursing services at Palo Alto elementary schools, an expansion of summer school, early literacy support, "expert" tutoring, after-school and weekend programming, class size reduction in STEAM electives, support for differentiated instruction at the elementary and middle school level, advanced research in a range of disciplines and computer science curriculum beginning in middle school.
The election takes place on May 5, but as an all-mail ballot election, there will be no polling places on Election Day. Instead, all registered voters in the district will automatically be sent a ballot. No postage is required to return a ballot in an all-mail ballot election.
"It is important for voters to participate in these local special elections because one vote can determine the success or failure of a contest," county Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey said in a press release. "Since every voter automatically receives a ballot in the mail, participating is easy and convenient."
Ballots can be returned by mail using a purple postage-paid return envelope included in the ballot packet. The registrar is encouraging voters to return their ballots as soon as possible to allow enough time for them to be received by Election Day. Ballots that are returned in-person must be received by 8 p.m. on May 5. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before Election Day and must be received by Friday, May 8 (three days after the election).
Special all-mail ballot elections have become common in Santa Clara County. There have been 10 held in the last five years, according to the registrar. All-mail ballot elections typically have voter turnout rates in the 35 percent to 45 percent range. The turnout tends to be higher than most other local special elections but lower than countywide primary or general elections, the registrar said in a press release.
A voter should complete a new registration form if he or she has moved, changed a name(s), or would like to change his or her political party preference, the registrar said.
Online registrations will be accepted as long as they are completed before midnight on April 20. Paper registration forms that are postmarked on that date will also be accepted. Paper registration forms are available at post offices, public libraries, fire stations, city halls and most local government offices.
Additionally, staff from the Registrar's Office will set up drive-thru ballot drop-off sites at Palo Alto City Hall on April 25 and May 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Voters can also cast a ballot in-person at the Registrar's Office at 1555 Berger Drive in San Jose during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Early voting is also available at Building 2 at the same address the following dates and hours: April 5-May 6, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; April 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and May 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information, contact the Registrar of Voters' Office at 1-408-299-VOTE (8683); toll-free at 1-866-430-VOTE (8683) or go to sccvote.org.