San Benito County voters should expect their ballots in the mail over the next few days for the Nov. 6 election, and that’s especially significant because the vast majority of local voters make their choices away from the polls.
In the June primary election, as a matter of fact, almost 85 percent of local turnout was through the mail, said Deputy Clerk Angela Curro in an interview Monday.
The U.S. Postal Service now has the local ballots for delivery, but Curro noted how Monday’s federal holiday might delay their arrival by a day. In total, there are about 18,000 permanent vote-by-mail voters in the county. Another 8,000 are designated as polling place voters, but around half of the poll voters ended up using a convertible mailed ballot in June that was allowed for the first time locally.
“We were pleasantly surprised in June,” Curro said the convertible ballot use. “We got more people engaged in voting even if they didn’t make it to the polls.”
See video interviews with all candidates running for Hollister City Council and Hollister mayor below this story.
Then there are around 3,000 local voters who don’t have a polling place other than the elections office, Curro noted. She mentioned how the county actually already received its first ballot back, from a military voter who received an early ballot. Early voting has now officially started as well at the elections office, and the ballot drop box is now available next to the clerk’s office building on Fifth Street as well.
The astounding use of mail ballots locally doesn’t mean the county will be going to an all-mail system anytime soon. Curro pointed out that state law would require San Benito County to have three satellite offices in that case, and that it would be a lot more expensive than running polling places.
Voters should expect to receive four mailings this week: one with statewide candidates along with proposition arguments, a second one with the full text of propositions, the full text of the Measure G roads tax as requested by the Council of San Benito County Governments, and the ballots.
Curro expects to inform the public on additional details at upcoming forums, such as the Portuguese Hall not being available as a polling place. It’s a popular location and will switch to the educational center behind R.O. Hardin School because the Portuguese Hall could not guarantee availability, she said.