County registrars address concerns with voting by mail

Posted at 11:02 PM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 02:02:01-04

Many registered voters across the Central Coast are receiving their vote by mail ballots, with some drop-off locations in northern San Luis Obispo County already reporting ballots being turned in.

While a lot may be unusual about this year, voting possibly may not be.

Santa Barbara County says about 75% of its registered voters already vote by mail and in San Luis Obispo County, that number is about 80%.

Despite this however, we asked social media users if they felt their ballot was safe voting by mail this year and saw mixed reaction with some people writing:

"Absolutely, I've been doing it for years" and others saying: "No, there is too much uncertainty this year."

"Santa Barbara County has done extensive efforts to make sure this is a safe and secure election, everything from cybersecurity, to physical security, to COVID security," Joseph E. Holland, Registrar of Voters for Santa Barbara County, said.

One common misconception people have is they might be able to vote twice if they vote by mail and go to a polling location.

"If you show up at an in-person voting place without your vote by mail ballot, we know that you got that ballot. So you will have to vote provisionally and we will only count that provisional ballot once we determined that you have not voted already," Holland said.

It's recommended to drop your ballot off at a dropbox location if you don't feel comfortable using your own mailbox.

If you receive a ballot that doesn't belong to you, Holland says write return to sender on the envelope and put in back in your mailbox.

But can the postal service see your political affiliation and possibly throw your ballot out?

"That's totally untrue. You cannot do that. Your ballot is totally secret until it gets to our office and then we have electronic opening machines so we don't even see it," Holland said.

If you're still not sold on the idea of voting by mail, you can still vote in person starting Oct. 31.

"If you do go into an in-person voting location, there's going to be full PPE, masks available, and we're going to be cleaning up after everyone voter and make it as safe as we possibly can," Holland said.

Both counties say they included "I voted" stickers so you can still let everyone know you were a part of the process.

To ensure your ballot is counted by election day, it's best to send off your ballot at least seven days before the election.

Both county's clerk recorder's offices are also reminding people to "stop before they drop" and sign their ballots before sending them in.

Click here for information on voting in Santa Barbara County.

Click here for information on voting in San Luis Obispo County.