San Jose Councilman Don Rocha wants to explore the idea of imposing a standard for automatic recounts in event of a very close election in San Jose.
The District 9 councilman suggested as much to the City Council last August, asking if it ever thought of adopting automatic recounts to double-check the accuracy of close-call elections. Rocha’s proposal goes before the Rules and Open Government Committee at Wednesday’s meeting, when he plans to refer the concept to the Elections Commission for a closer look.
Rocha’s hope is to get something approved before the 2014 election cycle, when his term happens to expire. Although, that might not mean anything if he decides to call it quits.
Nationally, election laws vary when it comes to automatic recounts. Some laws call for a decision within a given percentage of the vote, from 1 to 0.1 percent, Rocha’s memo says. Some get finalized based on an actual number of votes. Others only call for recounts if there’s a tie.
Locally, someone usually has to petition for a recount, says Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters spokeswoman Elma Rosas. The cost of a recount varies too much for her to even guess, she adds.
“It really depends on how many voters there are, if they want a full or partial recount, so many other variables; it’s hard to say,” Rosas says.
Rocha says he just wants to bring up the topic to get a discussion going.
“I don’t have an opinion yet as to whether we should establish such a standard, and if so what it should be, but I would appreciate hearing the Election Commission’s thoughts on the matter,” reads the report he’ll present this week.
Other items on the Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for January 30, 2013 include:
• San Jose businesses and independent contractors behind on their taxes may get an extended grace period to pay up. The city mailed a letter to every local business registered through the Franchise Tax Board but delinquent for any year since 2009. The notice informs businesses that they could save hundreds of dollars under an amnesty program that expires in March.
Councilmember Rocha wants to extend the amnesty through 2014. Some of the independent contractors who could benefit from the grace period include sports referees and umpires and off-duty police officers working security, the report says.
• Committee members each listed a set of topics to bring up at public study sessions in the coming year, including the BART extension, high-speed rail, police staffing retention, parks and library programs and public health.
• Councilman Kansen Chu is asking his colleagues to approve his donation of an extra $9,262.23 in campaign funds to the Educational Park Branch Library, the future Northside Library and a gun buy-back program.
• The Project Diversity Screening Committee, tasked to interview all commission applicants, will see five new appointments and one re-appointment Wednesday. The 13-member screening committee interviews anyone applying for a public commission and makes recommendations to each board with authority to appoint them.