Mark Church new

Mark Church 

More than a million people have already voted in the Bay Area’s nine counties, with slightly less than two weeks to go before Election Day.

In San Mateo County, Chief Elections Officer Mark Church reported 183,193 vote-by-mail ballots and 5,195 in-person ballots were received at the county’s three vote centers for a total of 188,388 ballots cast as of Monday at noon. That’s about 42.53% of the county’s 442,988 registered voters.

There are 504,473 eligible voters in San Mateo County, according to Church, with 87.81% of all eligible voters registered — the highest number of registered voters ever in the history of the county. San Mateo County Assistant Elections Officer Jim Irizarry said the office received 116,899 ballots as of the previous Tuesday.

“The number of registered voters and ballots cast are increasing daily,” Church said.

With this year’s COVID-19 pandemic making in-person voting more problematic than in other years, California sent mail-in ballots to all its registered voters at least 29 days before the Nov. 3 election.

Officials say voters are responding to calls for early voting amid speculation it could take days or even weeks beyond Election Day to finalize results for some races.

Alameda County leads the Bay Area with ballots returned so far, receiving 237,000 ballots by Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 20, according to registrar Tim Dupuis.

Contra Costa County isn’t far behind, with 225,000 returned ballots, also by Tuesday, which officials said represent 30% of the county’s eligible voters.

Santa Clara County reported 218,068 returned ballots by Tuesday. “We are at 21.52% of our eligible voters,” said Evelyn Mendez, the county’s public and legislative affairs manager. “This time in 2016, we were at 8.37%.”

San Francisco reported receiving 154,889 ballots as of Tuesday evening, Oct. 20; with 154,222 of them deemed acceptable, according to the Department of Elections website.

Sonoma County checked in with 75,155 ballots processed as of Tuesday afternoon. “That is a 25% turnout,” said Deva Marie Proto, the Sonoma County registrar of voters.

Solano County reported receiving 68,000 ballots. Marin County received 59,338 by Tuesday, officials said. Even smaller Napa County reported relatively large numbers. “As of Monday, Oct. 19, at 5 p.m., we had 19,176 ballots returned and ready to count,” said John Tuteur, Napa County’s registrar of voters. “That represents 22.6% of our registered 84,506 voters. At the same time in the November 2016 presidential election cycle, we had 10,597 ballots returned, which represented 14% of our 74,567 registered voters.”

Ballots can be returned by mail (postage already paid), in person at a polling place or the county elections office, or to a designated drop-box, the locations of which are specified by each county. Ballots must be in by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Mail-in ballots must be signed, dated and postmarked by Election Day, and they must be received by the county elections office no later than 17 days after Election Day. Once sent, mail-in ballots can be tracked via https://california.ballottrax.net/voter/.

Anyone who is unsure about their eligibility can check at https://bit.ly/35AKEtP. Even after the registration deadline passes, voters can still register for most elections by visiting their county elections office, a vote center or their polling place during the 14 days prior to the election, including Election Day itself.

A list of early voting locations where residents can complete the same day voter registration process and cast a provisional ballot is available at https://caearlyvoting.sos.ca.gov/, where they can also see whether and where their county offers early voting.

Californians can find answers to most voting questions by visiting https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/voting-california. The voting process varies from county to county. Those needing to contact their county elections office but aren’t sure how can find the information online at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/county-elections-offices.

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