The deadline to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot for the November 6, 2012 Presidential General Election is Tuesday, October 30.
As of today, more than 75,000 of Santa Cruz County’s 155,823 registered voters have requested to vote by mail. The deadline to register to vote was October 22, and the county elections officials continue to process cards and voter registration numbers have not yet been finalized.
To request a vote-by-mail ballot, voters must complete an application that can be found on the back cover of the county’s Sample Ballot and Voter’s Information Pamphlet that has been mailed to voters and is available online. Voters may also complete and submit an application online at www.votescount.com or download a form and FAX it to 831-454-2445, mail it to the County Clerk/Elections Department or drop it off in person. Vote-by-mail ballot applications are also available at the City Clerk’s Offices in Capitola, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and Watsonville. Voters may also write a note including the voter’s residence address in Santa Cruz County, mailing address, and signature requesting the vote-by-mail ballot for the November 6, 2012 Presidential General Election.
Many voters use the vote-by-mail applications supplied by various political campaigns. Santa Cruz County elections officials, however, stress that voters have the legal right to mail or deliver the applications directly to the local elections official rather than the political campaign. Returning vote-by-mail applications to anyone other than the elections official may cause a delay that could interfere with the voter’s right to vote, officials warned.
Early voting at the County Clerk/Elections Department in Santa Cruz and the Watsonville City Clerk’s Office at 275 Main Street, 4th Floor, continues to be available during regular weekday hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Watsonville City Clerk’s Office is closed on Fridays. In addition to the regular business hours, the offices will offer weekend voting on November 3 and 4, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To return the ballot my mail, voters must affix a first class postage stamp. Voters who have a green ballot return envelope are not required to pay postage as they were assigned to a mail ballot precinct and did not have the option of going to vote at a polling place.
Instead of mailing the ballot, voters may drop their vote-by-mail ballot in one of two convenient drop boxes: one in Santa Cruz and the other in Watsonville. The drop boxes are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and no postage is required. The vote-by-mail ballot drop box in Santa Cruz is a white mailbox-style receptacle that is located in front of the County Government Center. The vote-by-mail drop box in Watsonville is located in the parking lot behind City Hall and in front of the Police Department on Union Street. It is a green box, typically reserved for dropping off payments to the City, but has been made available now for voters to deposit their voted ballots.
Santa Cruz County voters may also drop their voted ballot off at any polling place in Santa Cruz County on Election Day. In addition, county voters may return their voted ballot during regular business hours to the County Clerk/Elections Department in Santa Cruz, or the City Clerks' offices in Capitola, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley or Watsonville during regular business hours. Ballots must be received by an elections official in the county of the voter’s residence no later than 8 p.m. on November 6, 2012, postmark is not acceptable.
Many people live in Santa Cruz County but maintain their voting residence in another county. The law requires the ballot be returned to the county that issued the ballot. If ballots need to be mailed, elections officials recommend mailing them by Wednesday, October 31.
A vote-by-mail voter who because of illness or other physical disability, is unable to return the ballot, may designate his or her spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister or person residing in the same household to return the ballot to the county Elections Department, City Clerk's office, or to any polling place on Election Day. The authorization for another person to return the vote-by-mail ballot is located on the back of the ballot return envelope.
It is extremely important for voters to sign their vote-by-mail ballot return envelope, in addition to completing all of the other information requested, including the address where the voter lives in Santa Cruz County.
Unfortunately, if there is no signature on the vote-by-mail ballot return envelope or if the signature on the envelope does not compare to the voter’s signature on his or her voter’s registration card, election officials cannot count the ballot.
After October 30, voters may still obtain an early ballot at the Santa Cruz County Clerk/Elections Department and Watsonville City Clerk’s Office. Voters who want to get a ballot during the final week prior to Election Day, need to be unable to go to the polls due to illness, disability or absence from their precinct on Election Day. A separate application available at the Santa Cruz and Watsonville voting centers and online after October 30 must be completed.
If voters are unable to come in and obtain a ballot personally during the six days before and including Election Day, they may provide a written statement allowing an authorized representative of the voter to obtain the ballot on the voter’s behalf.
If any voter requires assistance with voting or needs a ballot delivered to them, please contact the Santa Cruz County Clerk/Elections Department and arrangements can be made.
For more information, please call the Santa Cruz County Clerk/Elections Department at 831-454-2060, 1-866-282-5900 (toll-free), or visit our website at www.votescount.com