Every day at Elections headquarters on Tower Road, Vote by Mail ballots are being delivered by the bin from the U.S. Postal Service. As of today, more than 17,000 have arrived to be counted, sorted and signature-checked in preparation for the vote.
The busiest days for Vote by Mail ballot arrivals are Tuesdays, a likely result of people taking the time to vote and mail their ballot over the weekend. According to Lupe Sanchez, who oversees ballot processing, the Elections Office received nearly 4,300 ballots last Tuesday. Mondays are also busy, with about 3,400 ballots last Monday and nearly 2,500 today, but the volume typically tapers off by the end of the week. Just 1,800 ballots arrived on Friday.
According to California Elections Code, Vote by Mail ballots can not be opened or counted until seven days prior to Election Day. Until then, they’re held in a vaulted room. But there is still plenty to do, as each ballot must be counted, de-flapped (a fancy term for removing the extra envelope flap that covers your signature), sorted by precinct and the signature on the envelope checked against the voter’s registration form to ensure authenticity. (By the way, the Pitney Bowes Relia-Vote system we blogged about earlier will automate many of these processes).
So, with all these Vote by Mail ballots, where’s yours?
Maybe you’ve already returned your Vote by Mail ballot, so for that, we thank you. Or maybe you haven’t gotten around to it yet, in which case we encourage you to do so. Remember, your ballot must be received by the Elections Office no later than Election Day to be counted; postmarks are not accepted.
If you haven’t yet voted by mail, listen up, because you just might want to. Take all the hassle out of trying to get to the polls on Election Day, and vote from work on some idle Tuesday or at home over Sunday breakfast. Slap on enough postage and drop it in the mail or bring it by the Elections Office, any city hall, or any Election Day polling place and you’re good to go.
To sign up, fill out and return the Vote by Mail Ballot Application on the back page of your Sample Ballot, which was already mailed to you. And hurry, because the Elections Office must receive it by Oct. 30. You have the choice of voting by mail for this election only or to sign up to do so on a permanent basis. One we receive your form, we’ll process it and mail you your Vote By Mail ballot in 24 hours. You can also request a Vote by Mail ballot for this election only or on a permanent basis by visiting our Web site.
You can also use the Track & Confirm feature on our Web site to verify when your ballot was mailed to you and when the Elections Office received it. Piece of cake and peace of mind!
Of the 129,000 Vote by Mail ballots the Elections Office has sent out, there are, of course, some snafus in the mix to attend to. Nearly 120 people have spoiled their ballots and requested a new one. Ninety five have sent their ballot back without remembering to sign the envelope. And eight voters have sent their envelope back sans ballot altogether. Hey, it happens.
But 13 percent have been returned in good form, so consider it time to get on the voting bandwagon. There are legions of extra hands at the Elections Office eager to process yours.
“It’s a pretty low turnout so far,” Sanchez said. “We’re still waiting for them to keep coming in.”