Local polling stations throughout Santa Barbara County were already stocked Monday with supplies and instructions on how to handle the onslaught of voters and mail-in ballots expected Tuesday.
Some voters carried out their civic duty early, dropping off absentee ballots Monday ahead of Election Day.
About 68,000 absentee ballots were returned to the County Elections Office as of Monday, according to Santa Barbara County elections chief Joseph Holland.
That’s about 55 percent of the total 123,000 issued, Holland added.
“We have a lot of people voting,” he said Monday. “It’s a little higher than we expected. Four years ago, we got a lot back, too.”
Holland said he expects the total number of county voters to be somewhere between the 80.47 percent turnout in 2004 and the 86.36 percent turnout in 2008.
“Turnout is pretty hard to predict,” Holland told Noozhawk. “With more people voting by mail now, people who vote by mail tend to vote at a higher rate. We’ll get up to 20,000 vote-by-mail ballots dropped at polls tomorrow. They take their time filling it out tonight. That way it makes it a lot easier for them.”
Although it’s the first election after redistricting changed the boundaries for California’s legislative and congressional districts and the county’s five supervisor districts, Holland said most voters are still voting in the same places despite some precinct consolidations and creations.
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Those who show up to the wrong polling place may still vote using a provisional ballot, which is placed in an envelope and counted the very last, Holland said.
A provisional ballot is also an option for those voters who misplaced their mail-in ballots.
“We anticipate to get up to maybe 6,000 provisional ballots cast throughout the county,” Holland said. “If you happen to wander into the wrong polling place, we’ll let you vote if your name isn’t on the roster.”
Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and all absentee ballots have to be received — not just postmarked — by 8 p.m. They can be dropped off at the County Elections Office in advance or at any poll station on Election Day.
Precinct supplies were brought to polling locations over the weekend to avoid any hiccups, Holland said, noting he’ll be joining the lines of voters casting ballots on Election Day.
“They’re all set to go,” Holland said.