Election day is just two weeks away and the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters says early voting numbers are up compared to the weeks leading into the 2016 election.
San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Bob Page said at a Monday press conference that on their last count, nearly 12 percent of the more than 1.1 million ballots mailed to voters have been returned so far. At this point in 2016, there was just over a one percent turnout.
“So we are seeing an increased interest in early voting for this election," said Page. "I cannot say that, that will necessarily translate to an overall higher turnout when all is said and done, but it does indicate people are voting earlier than they have in past elections.”
Page said ballots are not being counted yet, but they have started verifying signature, and so far, 95 percent of the ballots have been processed and are eligible to be counted. If a signature looks off, it goes through three rounds of checks with experienced election workers.
“If either the envelope does not have a signature or we do not believe the signature matches, then we have another process where we have to send a notification letter to the voter giving them the opportunity to correct that signature issue,” said Page.
Voters who signed up for the secretary of state’s “Where’s My Ballot” program will also receive an electronic alert. They will have until November 29 to make corrections.
Page shared that there have been two reports of unofficial ballot drop-off boxes. He said they have not been able to reach representatives at a Calvary Chapel in Apple Valley to confirm if they have a box for an advertised ballot drop-off service, but they did speak to a Calvary Chapel in Chino Valley and the church acknowledged they have a box on their property.
“We have provided them some basic information about the rules regarding returning ballots returned to them by voters, and we have referred that matter to the secretary of state’s office," said Page. "Since we don’t actually police or enforce the law, we just provide access to voting. We forwarded that information about those two locations to the secretary of state for following up.”
Page said a majority of ballots are arriving through the postal service, but with over 22,000 ballots received through drop-off boxes so far, the county is increasing how often they pick up ballots from every four days to every two days.
Voters can also drop off their ballots at any in-person voting site. Early in-person voting is already underway at the registrar’s office. An additional five early voting locations will open on October 25, and 210 assigned polling locations will be open October 31 through November 3. Voters are asked to wear masks and socially distance at all in-person polling places, which is part of the county’s 2020 election slogan: “Your ballot. Vote Safe. Vote Early”.
“Part of this campaign [is] providing a significant amount of information about the safety measures that we put in place at our in-person voting locations and our other voting options, so that they understand all the different safety measures and they can make the choice about which method of returning their ballot they feel is the most safe and secure,” said Page.
For more information on how to find a drop off ballot box or about in-person voting locations and hours, visit sbcountyelections.com.