vote_lede_template.jpgCalifornia’s Secretary of State office will be sending monitors to San Francisco to oversee Tuesday’s election, a spokeswoman said today.

State oversight of the election was requested by several mayoral candidates following allegations last month that an independent group supporting interim Mayor Ed Lee engaged in voter ballot fraud in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Secretary of state spokeswoman Nicole Winger said the secretary “sends election observers from time to time.”

Winger declined to say how many monitors would be sent, but said they would work in coordination with the local elections office and will visit various polling places around the city.

San Francisco is the only jurisdiction where the state monitors will be sent this year, Winger said.

She said San Francisco was also among 12 counties where observers were sent in last November’s statewide election.

The letter requesting oversight for this year’s race came after members of the campaign of state Sen. and mayoral candidate Leland Yee took videos that appeared to show a group helping elderly voters fill out ballots at a makeshift polling station and alleged that the group was using stencils to guide voters to mark Lee for mayor.

Yee said in a statement that he welcomed the monitors.

“I am very pleased to hear that the Secretary of State has decided to send state election monitors,” he said. “San Franciscans deserve to have a fair and legitimate election, and these monitors will help protect the integrity of the vote.”

Matt Dorsey, spokesman for the mayoral campaign of City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said they too were pleased to have additional oversight.

“Serious questions have been raised about electioneering activities in the mayor’s race, and we’re grateful to Secretary of State Bowen for recognizing that oversight is needed,” Dorsey said. “San Franciscans deserve to have confidence in the legitimacy of their elections.”

Lee’s campaign spokesman Tony Winnicker said they were also “very glad that the secretary of state is sending observers,” who he said “will help ensure the integrity of the election process and that every vote counts.”

Winnicker said Lee’s campaign has dozens of volunteer lawyers who will also be monitoring the election, particularly in predominately Chinese voting precincts where the campaign has alleged voter suppression and intimidation efforts by Yee’s campaign.

Polling places will be open around the city from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Along with the mayor’s race, voters will decide on a district attorney and sheriff, as well as several propositions.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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