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March 30, 2023

Election officials tout increased participation

Chief elections officials gave a rundown of the 2018 General Election in San Benito County at Tuesday’s board meeting.
Supervisors met at 9 a.m. and heard a report from elections officials on the November results.
Deputy County Clerk Angela Curro told supervisors it was a “very challenging” election and she expects that trend to continue.
Curro, though said a new voting system in place this year was a “wonderful success” and it streamlined the ballot process. She was particularly excited about popularity of mail voting this past election season.
Voters this year had the choice to mail back their ballots whether they’re registered for mail-in votes or registered for polling places.
“It increased participation of voters,” Curro said.
Turnout for the county ended up at about 68 percent, which is a healthy number compared with previous mid-term elections.
She noted that more than 40 percent of those new mailing voters decided to become permanent mail voters this election season as well.
That bump also helped to reduce the number of provisional ballots, Curro said. The number of those ballots dropped almost 50 percent from 376 in 2014 to about 200 this election, she said. That, in turn, has another effect.
“We count elections faster when we lower the provisionals,” Clerk Joe Paul Gonzalez said at the meeting.
Additional participation and access brought a downside for elections staff, too. With same-day registration now available, meaning voters can register all the way up to Election Day, it has meant more and more people taking advantage of it. There were 179 voters who registered after the 15-day deadline this year, Curro said. She noted how it takes 30-45 minutes to process each of those voters in the office.
On the registration end, Curro attributed some of the bump to changes like people being automatically registered to vote through activity with the Department of Motor Vehicles. A lot of voters tend to vote late, meanwhile, which resulted in 9,000 or so ballots coming in the final two days before election night.
Looking ahead, Curro touched on several matters, including laws regarding special-needs access.
She said the county must come up with a way to go to homes of voters with special needs and assist them with the voting process.
Curro also hinted at a request for $348,500 for matching funds toward a new voting system.