Election Day is Nov. 3, and all ballots must be postmarked by then, or returned directly to the Santa Barbara County Elections Office, to be counted.
As the election nears, it is important for voters to keep track of pre-election deadlines to make sure they receive, fill out and return their ballots on time.
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that requires county election officials to mail every active registered voter a ballot for the 2020 election, and Santa Barbara County expects to receive 227,000 vote-by-mail ballots next week, Registrar of Voters Joe Holland said.
He added that voters can expect to receive their ballots seven to 10 days after they arrive at local post offices, in early October.
Voter Registration Deadline
The voter registration deadline is Oct. 19, and applications are available by clicking here or by mail. Free paper applications are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 1.800.345.8683.
Conditional voter registration is available through Nov. 3, and can be completed in person at one of the three county elections offices, at 4440-A Calle Real in Santa Barbara; 511 E. Lakeside Parkway in Santa Maria; and 401 E. Cypress Avenue, Room 102, in Lompoc. All three offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, starting Oct. 5.
Returning Your Ballot
For each ballot to be counted, voters must remember to seal and sign their ballot envelope, Holland said.
Click here for Noozhawk’s Elections Guide, which includes instructions on how to properly fill out and return your ballot.
Ballots can be mailed in, and do not require postage. The U.S. Postal Service recommends mailing ballots by Oct. 27 to make sure they are returned on time, but any ballot postmarked by Nov. 3 will be counted.
Voters can also drop off their ballots at county drop boxes, which are being installed at 32 locations. They are available 24/7, and county elections office staff members will collect ballots from them daily.
Holland said voters can also drop their ballots off directly at the three elections office locations in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Lompoc.
All three offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, starting Oct. 5. They will be open the same hours on the weekend before Election Day.
On Monday, Nov. 2, the elections office hours change to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Tuesday, Nov. 3, the offices will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The California vote-by-mail expansion for this year’s election requires counties to adopt a ballot tracking system. Voters can register online and track their ballots from the time it is mailed to the time it is received.
Voting in Person
In-person voting begins four days prior to Election Day, on Saturday, Oct. 31.
Polling places will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov 2. Polling place hours are expanded to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. Polls close at 8 p.m.
The county had 86 polling stations for the March primary election and is planning to have 36 for the November general election, Holland said. Click here to look up your polling location, 30 days prior to Election Day.
Community members can apply to be a poll worker online. The county needs 520 poll workers and has received 1,500 applications so far, according to Holland. About 300 applicants have already been signed up to work at the polls, he added.
“I don’t believe there is an actual deadline to apply to be a poll worker, but anyone who wants to help is definitely encouraged to sign up,” Holland said.
The county elections office is allowed to start counting ballots 29 days before the election.
Officials will post election results after 8 p.m. Nov. 3, after polls close, from ballots received prior to Election Day.
“The more ballots we get in early, the more results we will have posted on election night,” Holland said.
Ballots received at polling locations will be processed as they come in, with updated results posted throughout the night.
Any vote-by-mail ballots received on Election Day will not be counted until the following days, Holland said.
Ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can arrive before Nov. 20 and be counted, and final results certification typically happens several weeks after an election.
For example, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors certified the March 3 election results on April 21.
Holland told the Board of Supervisors that this year’s election motto is “vote safe and vote early,” and he encouraged voters to turn in their ballots as early as possible.
— Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.