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More than a million people have already voted in the Bay Area’s nine counties, with slightly less than two weeks to go before Election Day.
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.
Alameda County leads the Bay Area with ballots returned so far, receiving 237,000 ballots by Tuesday afternoon, Oct.20, according to registrar Tim Dupuis.
Contra Costa County isn’t far behind, with 225,000 returned ballots, also by Tuesday, which officials said represent 30 percent of the county’s eligible voters.
Santa Clara County reported 218,068 returned ballots by Tuesday. “We are at 21.52 percent of our eligible voters,” said Evelyn Mendez, the county’s public and legislative affairs manager. “This time in 2016, we were at 8.37 percent.”
San Francisco reported receiving 154,889 ballots as of Tuesday evening, Oct. 20; with 154,222 of them deemed acceptable, according to the department of elections website.
Sonoma County checked in with 75,155 ballots processed as of Tuesday afternoon. “That is a 25 percent turnout,” said Deva Marie Proto, the Sonoma County registrar of voters.
Solano County reported receiving 68,000 ballots. Marin County received 59,338 by Tuesday, officials said. San Mateo County Chief Elections Officer Jim Irizarry said his office received 116,899 ballots by Tuesday.
Even smaller Napa County reported relatively large numbers. “As of Monday, October 19 at 5 p.m., we had 19,176 ballots returned and ready to count,” said John Tuteur, Napa County’s registrar of voters. “That represents 22.6 percent of our registered 84,506 voters. At the same time in the November 2016 presidential election cycle, we had 10,597 ballots returned, which represented 14 percent of our 74,567 registered voters.”
Ballots can be returned by mail (postage already paid); 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, mail-in ballots can be tracked at here.
Anyone who is unsure about their eligibility can check here. 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 here, where they can also see whether and where their county offers early voting.
Californians can find answers to most voting questions here. 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 here.