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21 Percent of Voters Already Cast Ballots in Santa Barbara City Council District Election

All ballots must be postmarked or dropped off at designated locations by end of Nov. 3

About 4,000 people have cast ballots so far in the vote-by-mail Santa Barbara City Council election.

That's about 21 percent of the total ballots that the city sent out. At the same time in 2013, the city had only received about 19 percent of the ballots back. 

City Clerk Services Manager Gwen Peirce said typically Santa Barbara has a 40-percent voter turnout for council elections, but this year she doesn't know what final voter turnout will be since this is the first district elections contest in nearly 40 years.

Rather than at-large elections, voters in three districts — the Westside, Eastside and Mesa areas — will vote for a council member. Election Day is Nov. 3. 

Attorney Barry Cappello filed a lawsuit on behalf of Latino activists and registered voters, calling for District Elections. The plaintiffs cited a lack of Latino representation on the City Council despite that fact that 38 percent of the city’s population is Latino or Hispanic.

Rather than fight the lawsuit, looking at the trend toward district elections throughout California, the city settled with the plaintiffs and moved to District Elections starting with this year's race. 

District 2 which includes the Mesa neighborhood, which has the most registered voters, has received the most ballots back so far. The Mesa District has 9,044 registered voters and 1,996 people have returned ballots. 

Incumbent Randy Rowse is the heavy favorite to hold on to his seat. He is running against Luis Esparza and Missy McSweeney-Zeitsoff. 

Santa Barbara's District 1 covering the Eastside has 5,324 registered voters. So far, 1,107 people have cast ballots.

The candidates are Cruzito Herrera Cruz, Jacqueline Inda, Andria Martinez Cohen, Michael Merenda and Jason Dominguez. 

Only 850 have voted so far on Santa Barbara's Westside, District 3. There are 4,179 registered voters in the district.

Incumbent Cathy Murillo is running against Sharon Byrne and Cristina Cardoso.

There are 18,547 registered voters in all three districts combined. The rest of the city's ballots won't vote until the next council election. The mayor's seat is still at-large, so the entire city will vote in those elections. 

There are no polling places for this vote-by-mail election, but voters are allowed to mail their ballot all the way up until Election Day.

This means that if the contest is close, residents may not know the final results of the election until the following Monday, Nov. 9.

Ballots that are dropped off before 8 p.m. on Election Night will be counted that day.

The hours and locations of the City’s four designated Drop-Off Centers are:

Saturday, October 31, 2015, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m:

City Hall Lobby at 735 Anacapa St.

Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m:

All voters: City Hall Lobby at 735 Anacapa St.

District 1: Franklin Neighborhood Center, Multipurpose Room at 1136 E. Montecito St.

District 2: Holy Cross Catholic Church, Fellowship Hall at 1740 Cliff Dr.

District 3: Calvary Baptist Church, Sizer Hall at 736 W. Islay St.

Voters may also return their ballots before Election Day at the City Clerk’s Office in City Hall, Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

City Clerk’s Office personnel are available to assist voters with disabilities to mark their ballots during regular business hours.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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