SJ County Registrar of Voters passes away

Just days before the primary election, San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Heather Ditty has suddenly passed away.

Just days before the primary election, San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Heather Ditty has suddenly passed away.

Ditty died on the morning of June 4. The cause of death was not publicly disclosed. Assistant Registrar Olivia Hale will supervise Tuesday’s primary election, and former registrar Austin Erdman has been enlisted to return and help with the process. County officials expressed confidence that all elections will run smoothly and professionally.

Heather Ditty

“With the upcoming election on June 7, our Assistant Registrar of Voters, Olivia Hale, has stepped in seamlessly to finalize the excellent work Heather already had put in place,” said Chuck Winn, Chairman of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, in a released statement. “Due to Heather’s leadership, experience, attention to detail, ability to address issues expeditiously, and total commitment to the residents of our county, we are confident this Election Day will run smoothly and efficiently.”

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the appointment of Ditty as registrar on Dec. 14, 2021, and she took over the position six days later.

“Even though Heather had been with our county family for only six months, she had a profound impact on her staff and our Elections Office,” Winn said. “She truly cared about elections and dedicated her life to being a public servant.”

Clear line of succession

The California Government Code provides for a clear line of succession when a registrar vacates the position under such circumstances. Government Code 24105 says: “in the absence of an appointed officer, the chief deputy, assistant deputy or deputy next in authority can fulfill the duties of the officer until the vacancy in the office is filled.”

“We’ve been receiving ballots for a week. The preparation has been done,” County Supervisor Kathy Miller said. “I believe our team in the registrar’s office is ready. We’ve brought in additional resources and oversite to be safe and cautious. I believe the counting will go smoothly.”

Erdman served as interim registrar in San Joaquin County in 2007 and held the job full-time between 2008-2017. Last year, he briefly returned as interim registrar. County Supervisor Tom Patti, who is competing as a Republican in the Congressional 9th District primary, praised the decision to bring in Erdman for assistance and is confident the registrar’s office will perform its duties while dealing with the sad loss.

“This is absolutely devastating news. (Ditty) was a wonderful woman and she was extremely capable, and she was confident we’re going to have fair elections,” Patti said. “We will have continuity and highly capable oversight.”

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

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