Ballots have been mailed out to all registered voters in Santa Clara County as part of a new system designed to make elections more accessible than ever before.
For the first time in county history, every person who’s registered to vote—that’s 940,000 in the March primary election—will get a mail-in ballot to either drop off in person or return in an accompanying postage-paid envelope.
“This truly is the future of elections,” Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey said. “We have seen vote-by-mail rates skyrocket to the point where nearly 80 percent of voters—four out of five—chose this option in 2018. That figure was expected to continue to rise even if we did not adopt the Voter’s Choice model. It really just makes sense to send everyone a vote-by-mail ballot.”
The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters (ROV) urges recipients to check their ballots when they arrive. Nearly 300,000 county residents are registered as “no party preference,” which means their ballots will not include candidates for president.
No-party-preference voters can still participate in the presidential primary if they fill out a crossover ballot for the American Independent, Democratic or Libertarian parties. If voters opt to vote the Green, Peace & Freedom or Republican, they must re-register with their preferred party. Requests for new ballots must be received by the ROV by Feb. 25.
The county Board of Supervisors adopted the new Voter’s Choice Act system last year to make elections more convenient the public.
Under the new system, not only does every county voter have the option of casting a vote by mail, they’re also no longer tied to a specific polling place. Starting on Feb. 22, they can vote in person at one of 110 locations throughout the county. Alternately, they can drop off their ballots any time before then at the ROV headquarters at 1555 Berger Drive in San Jose or at any one of 100 drop boxes available throughout the county.
Anyone can request a replacement ballot at any of the voting centers and take advantage of additional services, including language and accessibility help.
More than 7,000 vote-by-mail packets with paid-postage envelopes were also mailed to military and overseas voters to ensure that they have plenty of time to return their votes. In order to be counted in the March 3 primary, the ballots must be postmarked on or before election day and arrive no later than March 6.
The final day to register to vote in next month’s election is Feb. 25. To register online or to check your status, click here.