SACRAMENTO — This Election Day, Sacramento and Nevada are two of five counties in the state testing a new method for turning in ballots through the mail or a drop boxes.
So far, preliminary numbers suggest voters are big fans of this new way of voting.
Cecelia Hamilton brought her mail-in ballot to the Oak Park Community Center, saving herself the cost of two stamps by sticking it in a pink box instead.
“I like it, I like being able to come in here and drop it off and go finish taking care of my business,” Hamilton said.
“People are really getting the hang of this vote-by-mail system,” said Sacramento County’s Interim Registrar of Voters Alice Jarboe.
Jarboe says so far the numbers suggest the majority of voters will be using the new mail-in drop box system.
“For this year we’ve had 45,000 voters return a ballot at a drop box,” Jarboe said. “So we are seeing more people take advantage of that vote-by-mail ballot than we are showing up at a vote center.”
The county now has 53 drop boxes, up from the 17 it had in November 2016. But for some voters, like Lisa Wrightsman, the new system has a small hiccup.
“I had the mail-in ballot but I don’t know where I put it,” Wrightsman said.
But Wrightsman was still able to cast her ballot the old-fashioned way at the voting center.
“I figure I just show up and they can look me up and get me set up. I might as well do it that way,” Wrightsman said.
Jarboe says this year’s voting centers are different from years past.
“No voter is assigned a particular place to vote, like with polling places,” Jarboe said.
While this is the first election using this vote center model, Jarboe says it won’t be the last in Sacramento County. “The voters pick where they want to vote.”
Meanwhile, San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Melinda Dubroff says 65 percent of residents mail in their ballots.
“They’re a high propensity voter,” Dubroff said. “You have a ballot in your hand and you’re more likely to vote on Election Day than if you’re trying to find your polling place.”
She says there are more than 334,000 registered voters in San Joaquin County — roughly the same as during 2016’s presidential election.
This year’s hot-button issues in the county, according to political consultant Lee Neves, are the sheriff’s race, along with the race for District 2 county supervisor and the District 4 city council seat in Stockton.
“It’s definitely going to be interesting, it’ll be interesting to see how the first numbers come out,” Neves said.
However, Dubroff says it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what drives people to the polls.
“It’s hard to gauge what motivates people to register to vote,” she said. “Any particular outreach effort, we’re not really privy to that.”
Although the lure of “selfie stations” at polling places could attract younger voters, Dubroff says the turnout in gubernatorial elections are generally low.
“I’m concerned that our turn out percentage won’t be as dramatic as we would like to see,” she said.