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Voters flood election offices with last-minute questions

Santa Cruz Votemobile. Photo courtesy of Santa Cruz County Clerk.

OCTOBER 30, 2020

“Can I still register to vote?”

“What if I never received my ballot?”

“When will we know the results?”

Those are among the most common questions fielded by the Ventura County registrar’s office, where the phone has been ringing nonstop. Between 600 and 800 calls come in daily, said Registrar Miranda Nobriga.

Nobriga tells voters that they can register as late as Election Day, and that they can vote at any of the 48 voting locations in Ventura County. As for learning the results, well, they’ll just have to wait. “The first results will be released shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night and will be the vote-by-mail ballots processed to date,” she said.

So far, just over 237,000 ballots have been processed—47 percent of all registered voters in the county. In the past, election officials had to wait until 10 days before Election Day to start processing the vote, but now, because of Covid, they can start 29 days prior to the election.

In Santa Cruz County, election officials have also been bombarded with calls from voters, who seem to be worried that their signatures won’t match up. “We try to reassure them that we are looking for comparisons,” Registrar Gail Pellerin. said. “It does not have to be an exact match. The best advice is to just relax and sign the way you normally do.”

The registrar’s office has already processed more than 86,400 ballots, just over half the total number of registered voters, which itself is at an all-time high.

Santa Cruz voters also worry about what to do if they didn’t get their ballot, Pellerin said. She advises them to visit one of the 19 in-person voting locations or the county’s Vote Mobile, a cheery trailer painted like the American flag that has proved especially useful serving in areas devastated by wildfire.

“Basically all of the services we provide here in our office are duplicated in our Vote Mobile,” she said.

Freddy Brewster is a reporter at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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Freddy Brewster

Freddy Brewster ( 2022 )


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