Bay Area voters send 2 million ballots early

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SAN FRANCISCO (Bay City News Foundation) — With about a week to go until Election Day, nearly 2 million residents from the Bay Area’s nine counties have already voted.

With this year’s COVID-19 pandemic making in-person voting more problematic than in other years, California sent mail-in ballots to all its registered voters at least 29 days before the Nov. 3 election. Officials say voters are responding to calls for early voting amid speculation it could take days or even weeks beyond Election Day to finalize results for some races.

By the morning of Oct. 27, Santa Clara County officials received more than 410,000 votes, according to Evelyn Mendez, the county’s public and legislative affairs manager.

Alameda County checked in with about 408,000 votes, according to county registrar Tim Dupuis.

Contra Costa County has received approximately 340,000 votes, according to Scott Konopasek, the county’s assistant registrar of voters.

San Francisco reported receiving 221,792 ballots as of Monday evening, Oct. 27; with all but 501 of them deemed acceptable, according to the department of elections website.

San Mateo County Chief Elections Officer Jim Irizarry said his office received 209,513 ballots by Tuesday.

Sonoma County counted 143,654 ballots processed as of Tuesday afternoon, “which is 47.79 percent turnout,” said Deva Marie Proto, the Sonoma County registrar of voters.

Marin County reported receiving 100, 508 ballots by the end of Oct. 27. Solano County reported receiving 89,079 ballots.

Napa County reported 31,917 votes by Oct. 27, which is 37.6 percent of registered voters, according to John Tuteur, Napa County’s registrar of voters. He said in 2016, Napa County received about 28 percent of all eligible votes a week before the election.

“Final turnout in 2016 was 82.28 percent,” Tuteur said. “If the trend continues, we could get close to, or even above, 90 percent, which would be a record setter.”

California governor Gavin Newsom tweeted on Thursday that Californians have returned 8 million ballots.

With about a week to go, it’s unknown whether there’s still time to return ballots via mail. But ballots can still be returned in person at a polling place or the county elections office; or to a designated drop-box, the locations of which are specified by each county. Ballots must be in by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Mail-in ballots must be signed and dated and postmarked by Election Day, and they must be received by the county elections office no later than 17 days after Election Day. Once sent, early ballots can be tracked here.

Anyone who is unsure about their eligibility can check online at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/voting-california/who-can-vote-california.

Even after the registration deadline passes, voters can still register for most elections by visiting their county elections office, a vote center or their polling place during the 14 days prior to the election, including Election Day itself.

A list of early voting locations where residents can complete the same day voter registration process and cast a provisional ballot is available at https://caearlyvoting.sos.ca.gov/, where they can also see whether and where their county offers early voting.

Californians can find answers to most voting questions at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/voting-california. The voting process varies from county to county. Those needing to contact their county elections office but aren’t sure how can find the information at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/county-elections-offices.

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