The Nov. 3 general election is nearing and all registered voters in California can expect to receive a ballot in the mail early in October.
This is due to COVID-19 according to a press release from the county’s Elections Division, unsurprising as the pandemic has led many to expect the forthcoming election will be largely conducted through mail-in voting.
Registered voters can expect to see a ballot in their mail by Oct. 12, and if they don’t receive it by that date, are encouraged to contact the Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters.
The Registrar of Voters can be contacted at 805-568-2200 and voters can check on their registration status at voterstatus.sos.ca.gov or sbcvote.com.
Residents can also go to registertovote.ca.gov if they wish to update registration details like their address, register to vote for the first time, or make sure that their current signature matches up with the one on their voter registration card. The registration card’s signature will be compared to the signature that voters will be required to sign on their ballot envelope before their ballot is counted.
Santa Barbara County will have more than 30 secured ballot drop boxes where voters can return their ballots, open 24 hours every day from Oct. 5 to Nov. 2 and until 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.
Individuals casting their votes by mail can do so free of postage and ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3. According to the release, the United States Postal Service recommends voters mail in their ballots on or before Oct. 27.
Mail-in voting has become a polarizing issue, with Democrats by and large confident in its security as a voting method, and Republicans suspecting it opens the door to unprecedented voter fraud. These diametric views were expressed to the News-Press.
Local Republican Denice Spangler Adams said the forthcoming election being mostly done through mail-in voting has “opened the floodgates to fraud.” Considering that mail-in is gearing up to be the preferred voting method, Ms. Adams added that at this late date, the question that needs answering is, “How do we minimize fraud?”
Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County chair Gail Teton-Landis on the other hand said voter fraud in Santa Barbara County is “almost non-existent.”
“Santa Barbara City voted by mail during its last election cycle in November 2019 and it seemed to go fairly smoothly,” she said.
The two were also of different minds on the possibility of non-citizens voting in the election. Ms. Adams said she was concerned that the hundreds of thousands of young adults now able to vote after pre-registering as part of the state’s High School Voter Education Weeks, a program launched in 2016, may include non-citizens because California sanctuary state laws preclude schools from identifying students who aren’t U.S. citizens.
Ms. Teton-Landis said the illegality of non-citizens voting alone is sufficient in preventing this from happening.
“It is illegal for non-citizens to vote and the consequences are quite severe,” she said. “On the voter registration form, at the very top you must specify that you are a citizen and a resident of California.”
In addition to mail-in voting and dropboxes, there will be around 35 in-person voting sites, which will be open for four days from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3. According to the Santa Barbara County website, the locations of these polling places can be found in its county voter information guide lookup, which will be made available 30 days before the election.
Voting can also be done at the county’s three election offices in Santa Barbara, Lompoc, and Santa Maria, respectively located at 4400-A Calle Real, 401 E Cypress St., Room 102, and 511 E. Lakeside Parkway, Suite 134.