One-fifth of Yolo County’s registered voters have cast their votes already

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Nearly 20 percent of the 115,260 active registered voters in Yolo County who received vote-by-mail ballots less than two weeks ago have already filled them out and returned them.

As of Friday, an estimated 22,867 ballots had been returned to the elections office via either the postal service or ballot drop boxes, according to county elections staff.

Of those, 12,190 were returned by mail and 10,677 were deposited in one of 12 drop boxes located throughout the county.

Yolo County historically has a high percentage of residents who request vote-by-mail ballots, but most typically send them in closer to election day or drop them off at neighborhood polling places on Election Day.

At this point during the 2016 presidential election, with two weeks to go before Election Day, the elections office had received around 4,000 ballots.

This year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered polling places, so all active registered voters automatically received a vote-by-mail ballot and many are returning them early, including in those drop boxes.

“We are pleased that Yolo County voters are choosing to vote early and utilize the ballot drop boxes throughout the county to return their ballots,” Jesse Salinas, the county’s assessor/clerk-recorder/registrar of voters, said this week.

He noted that for the March primary, when drop boxes were located at county libraries, a total of 1,342 ballots were collected the entire time the drop boxes were available.

But for the November election, drop boxes were placed in 12 locations throughout the county, including four in the city of Davis, and more than 10,000 voters have taken advantage of them already.

The drop boxes have been emptied every other day by elections workers and on Monday, after the elections office conducts its regular logic and accuracy testing of voting equipment, those ballots will be processed, as will those returned via the postal service thus far.

Those who have voted and signed up for ballot tracking will begin receiving notifications after that.

Voters can sign up for ballot tracking and will receive an email, text message or voice message about the status of their vote-by-mail ballots. Sign up for ballot tracking at wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov

Voters can deposit their completed, signed ballots in any drop box through 8 p.m. on Election Day. In Winters, the ballot drop box is located inside Lorenzo’s Market (121 E. Grant Ave.) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Salinas noted that voters should only deposit their ballots in official county drop boxes. They are recognizable as they have the official Yolo County Elections or Yolo County logo.

The locations of all official county drop boxes are listed at https://www.yoloelections.org/voting/locations.

And although unofficial ballot drop boxes have been placed elsewhere in California, including by the state Republican Party, there have been no reports of unofficial boxes in Yolo County, according to Salinas.

Residents are asked to contact the county elections office at 530-666-8133 if they have any concerns.

Monday, Oct. 19 was the last day to register to vote for the Nov. 3 election.

Conditional voter registration (also known as same-day voter registration) began Tuesday. Eligible residents who missed the Monday registration deadline may register and vote using the conditional voter registration process.

In addition to using ballot drop boxes and the postal service, ballots can also be returned at voter assistance centers that will open on Saturday, Oct. 31, and remain open through Election Day.

At these locations, residents can turn in their ballots, request a replacement ballot or envelope, vote a live ballot, take advantage of same-day registration and receive language and access assistance.

The Winters voter assistance center location is at the Winters Community Center, multipurpose room (201 Railroad Ave.).

However, Yolo County voters can use any voter assistance center in the county. Find a full list of centers at https://www.yoloelections.org/voting/locations

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