Ballots for Santa Barbara’s city election will be mailed out next week, so candidates are busier than ever with campaigning and attending forums.
It will be a vote-by-mail-only election with the mayoral and City Council races on the ballot. There is one ballot measure to adjust the lot line between MacKenzie Park and the Fremont Hall Army Reserve Center building, which city officials have said is a technicality that’s decades overdue.
There were 45,860 registered voters in the city as of Monday, according to the Santa Barbara County Elections Office. The number isn’t expected to change much, since most new registrants are from the Isla Vista area and won’t impact the city’s election.
Of the current registered voters, 23,267 are Democrats, 9,285 are Republicans and the rest are split between decline-to-state and the American Independent, Green, Libertarian, and Peace and Freedom parties.
The City Council voted to have a mail-only election because more and more voters were using mail-in ballots instead of voting in person. In 2011, 84 percent of voters mailed or dropped off their ballots. Santa Barbara’s highest turnout was in 2009 — with the controversial building-heights measure in addition to the mayoral and council races — at 49.59 percent, and the City Clerk’s Office isn’t sure what to expect this year.
Ballots are being mailed out next week by the city’s election consultant and will be processed at City Hall as they get mailed in or dropped off, according to Gwen Peirce, the City Clerk’s services manager.
City residents have until Oct. 21 to register to vote for the Nov. 5 election.
Prepaid envelopes come with every ballot, but voters can also drop them off at City Hall anytime during business hours and additionally from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2. City Hall and the designated drop-off locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Drop-off spots for Election Day will be the City Hall lobby at 735 Anacapa St.; Calvary Baptist Church's Sizer Hall at 736 W. Islay St.; the Franklin Neighborhood Center at 1136 E. Montecito St.; and Grace Lutheran Church at 3869 State St.
Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5; postmarks don’t count.
City leaders were motivated to pursue vote-by-mail to boost turnout and save some money. A traditional election was estimated to cost $37,000 more for November, according to the City Clerk’s Office.
The city pays an election consultant to provide the vote-by-mail tracking software system, sample ballot and voter information pamphlets, official ballots, ballot counting equipment and translation services, and additionally hires on a former city clerk as a consultant for additional election services for a total cost of $164,000 this year — excluding expenses. Santa Barbara used the same firm, Martin & Chapman Co., for the 2007, 2009 and 2011 elections.
The Nov. 5 ballot has two candidates for mayor and 10 vying for the three City Council seats.
Councilmen Frank Hotchkiss and Bendy White are running for re-election, and eight others are fighting for one of the three seats: Megan Diaz Alley, Gregg Hart, Cruzito Herrera Cruz, Michael Jordan, Matthew Kramer, David Landecker, Jason Nelson and Lesley Wiscomb.