The official March 3 Primary Election Day is more than a week away, but mail ballots are already piling up at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters office (ROV). Some voting centers will be open for business on the weekend, as well.
This year, for the first time in California, every registered voter got a mail-in ballot, which more than 80 percent of county voters are expected to use.
As of today, more than 60,000 ballots had been received by the elections office.
In addition to the staffed Vote Centers, nearly 100 drop boxes are available—many open 24-7. In Santa Clara County, 22 new Vote Centers have been open since this past weekend; 88 will be open for four days including Election Day.
The Vote Centers replace nearly 850 election precincts, offering more space, additional services and new enhanced voting equipment.
Lists of all Vote Center and ballot drop box locations, including dates and hours of operation, are available online at www.sccvote.org under the Vote in Person, Vote Center and Official Ballot Drop Box Sites Information tab.
The new primary date, three months earlier than California’s previous primaries, puts Democratic Party voters’ choices for president in the national spotlight. The presidential primary, combined with hotly contested local ballot measures and contests have elections officials expecting a large turnout.
Another change this year is the new marking method on ballots: they are “fill-in-the-bubble” selections, replacing the previous “connect-the-arrow” selections.
At the county’s 110 vote centers, the county has all new voting equipment—the first complete system upgrade since 2003.
At the centers, voters will check in with the new E-Pollbooks—no more signing in on the paper rosters. Also, ballots will be submitted through machines that instantly identify if there’s an error that needs correction: for example, someone overvotes for three candidates in a two-candidate contest.
The county also boasts new high-speed ballot counting machines. Vote-by-mail ballots are arriving every day, and warehouse operations are getting ready for the opening of vote centers this weekend.
One of the biggest changes of the Voter’s Choice Act is that there are no longer assigned polling places. Instead, you can vote in person at any vote center.
The vote centers are the new, convenient option for in-person voting that replace polling places. Vote centers are larger than a traditional polling place with more staff to assist voters and more voting equipment.
The county promises that each vote center will be supported by more staff members than a traditional polling place, offering better voting assistance and language assistance to ensure everyone has a chance to make their vote count. Conditional voter registration allows individuals to register to vote and cast a ballot at the same time.