Returned ballots in Santa Barbara County expected to break 2016 record
It’s Election Day, and ballots cast today in conjunction with those returned since voting started are expected to break records, according to Santa Barbara County Clerk, Recorder, Assessor and Registrar of Voters Joe Holland.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, 146,579 vote by mail ballots had been returned and there had been 6,100 live ballots cast at the polls. According to Mr. Holland, this means that 65 percent of Santa Barbara County’s registered voters have turned out to vote, and he’s expecting far more than the 182,000 ballots cast in 2016 to be turned in by the end of this election.
“I’m expecting over 200,000 ballots to be cast in total, which will far and away be a record,” he stated.
Voting in the 2020 election has been far different than in past years, as all California voters received an absentee ballot whether they asked for one or not in order to lessen in-person voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, options like dropping mail-in ballots into ballot drop boxes or at polling places has given voters new ways of delivering their ballots.
Mr. Holland told the News-Press that he believes that this voting setup will likely be here to stay for post-pandemic elections, though it is more expensive to set up. He said setting up all of the electronic equipment at polling places that ensures voters don’t vote twice cost around $1.5 million, which was paid for by state and federal grants.
While major metropolitan areas across the United States are preparing for possible unrest following the election with businesses boarding up their windows and law enforcement agencies on alert, local law enforcement agencies told the News-Press that they have increased staffing in case extra personnel is needed, though they’re not aware of any planned assemblies that could become unruly.
Santa Barbara Police Department watch commander Lt. Aaron Baker said, “We’re staffed better than normal. We’ve made some arrangements for some extra visible police personnel. We’re hoping that they’re not needed but we’re also making plans just in case.”
This increase in staffing will last as long as it is needed, and he added that as of now the police department hasn’t heard about any gatherings that could cause problems with which law enforcement would have to deal.
Similar statements were said by Santa Barbara Police Department public information officer Anthony Wagner, who told the News-Press that the police are in “fluid communication” with “state and federal resources,” though they have not heard of any credible threats of unrest.
Mr. Wagner expects Santa Barbara will be safe following the election and that its residents will do as they’re supposed to do and behave in an orderly manner.
“I think that everyone will do their civic duty to maintain safety and do it the Santa Barbara way,” he said.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Raquel Zick said that the department currently has detectives “actively monitoring and researching any possible threats” and “planning behind any sort of response that may be needed.”
Congressman Salud Carbajal will be speaking and taking questions at two virtual campaign events, one for Santa Barbara County and another for San Luis Obispo County. The former will have him speaking between 9:19 p.m. and 9:22 p.m. and the latter will have him speaking between 8:10 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
To participate in the Santa Barbara County digital event, send an RSVP message to firstname.lastname@example.org. To participate in the San Luis Obispo County digital event, send an RSVP message to email@example.com
California State Assembly District 37 Republican candidate Charles Cole will be holding an in-person event at 8 p.m. at Paxi’s Pizza, located at 515 State St.