U.S. House of Representatives hopeful Rudy Peters (R-Livermore) saw his campaign hit a bump in the road late in this election season, when the Contra Costa County Elections Department failed to include his candidate statement in the original voters guide sent to San Ramon residents in Congressional District 15.
Elections officials said the omission occurred amid confusion over whether Peters paid for the statement, and once the error was discovered, supplemental guides with the Republican challenger's statement have since been sent out to registered voters and should have arrived prior to vote-by-mail ballots being sent out in Contra Costa County.
Still, Peters laments the loss of early exposure.
“Not showing up in the county voters guide is critical. Most voters fail to find the time to perform adequate research for upcoming elections and rely on the county published voters guide as their main source of voter information,” Peters said. “It will cost me votes.”
The situation applied only to District 15 residents in Contra Costa County, which includes San Ramon. There were no problems reported with Peters' statement in voter guides in Alameda County -- where a vast majority of District 15 residents reside.
The issue arose when the County Clerk-Recorder-Elections Department officials were unsure if Peters had paid to have a statement published in the regions voter guide handbook, according to Paul Burgarino, community education and engagement specialist for the department.
In fact, Peters said he had already paid for the statement in July and received a confirmation email in August. After confirming the payment, county officials proceeded to mistakenly mail the guide without adding the candidate's comments.
“It was a mistake. It hasn't happened in a long period of time and we identified it, and we worked to remedy it as quickly as we could,” Burgarino said. “All Contra Costa County voters in the 15th Congressional District had those candidate statements in their hands before vote by mail ballots arrive.”
According to Burgarino, after the county realized the mistake supplemental guides with Peters' full statement was promptly sent out to all 42,000 registered Contra Costa County voters in Congressional District 15’s boundaries. Replacement guides began arriving the first week of October, so there was no time where a resident could vote without having access to both of the candidates statements, he added -- mail-in ballots were sent out Oct. 8.
While residents may have received the supplemental guides prior to the beginning of early voting, Peters said he was still displeased with the results, believing that damage has already been done to his campaign.
Peters referenced his choosing to not publish a statement in the voter guide for the June primary due to the high cost, a decision he said resulted in some voters saying they did not take him seriously.
“When a voter fails to see a candidate statement, they assume he or she is not serious,” Peters said. “My reason for not running candidate statements in the Primary was: cost. $12,000 Alameda and $3,000 Contra Costa. Not cheap for a candidate who has no party (or) PAC support.”
Incumbent Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), whom Peters is running to unseat, responded to the news of the county’s mistake by posting his opponents statement on his personal Twitter account, in a showing of good faith.
Swalwell finished well ahead of second-place Peters in the three-candidate primary, 70.5% to 26.2%.
A full list of all candidates and their official statements can be found on the Contra Costa County Elections Department website, where residents can also register to vote and sign up to recive a vote by mail ballot.