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March 20, 2023

Mail ballots head to voters next week

While ballots for the June 5 primary will be dropped at the post office Monday, the local elections office is looking ahead to Election Day and needs to hire elections officers to help with polling places.

Assistant Clerk Angela Curro told San Benito Live the office will drop off ballots in San Jose on Monday, and the Hollister Post Office should get them Tuesday for delivery. That’s a big deal in San Benito County, where about three-quarters of voters make their choices by mail.

Otherwise, the office is looking for polling place workers to help on June 5. Those workers get a stipend of either $55 or $75 depending on their position along with $15 to attend training. To learn about the roles, call the elections office at (831) 636-4016 or drop by the office in the old courthouse on Fifth Street.

As for those ballots, voters will see a lot of changes this year.

A change affecting most voters will be a reduction from two mailings to one mailing sent to vote-by-mail residents. In San Benito County, that’s a vast majority of voters since about 22,000 people vote by mail compared with just 8,000 to 9,000 using the polls.

In past election cycles, the county office would send the mail-in recipients a sample ballot with a voter information guide separate from the ballot itself, which came in a different mailing. On the back of the sample ballot was an application for an actual ballot, but most residents receiving those were already considered permanent vote-by-mail voters. So it was confusing for some people and redundant as a mailing.

Now, every voter will receive just one mailing from the local office, what’s called a voting kit—a blue and white envelope with a ballot, information guide, descriptions of measures and how to mark the ballots. The state, meanwhile, will continue to send its own voter materials separately as in the past.

Yet another significant change this year is the use of conditional voter registration. In the past, eligible voters had until 15 days before the election to register or they would be cut off from taking part. Now, that’s not the case with a new statewide system in place. If someone just moved here or forgot to register in time, he or she could go to the elections office, complete a registration card, validate they didn’t vote anywhere else and be eligible.

To see more on the 2018 election in San Benito County, go to this special section on San Benito Live. Below are interviews with candidates in local races. Look back for interviews in other races.

-Story by Kollin Kosmicki