With Election Day just four weeks away, Sonoma County officials sent out the majority of mail-in ballots on Tuesday and planned to complete the mailing of about 200,000 ballots by Thursday.
About 75 percent of the county’s 270,934 registered voters have chosen to receive their ballots by mail, said Deena Thompson-Stalder, chief deputy registrar of voters.
State and local elections officials advocate voting by mail, a fast-growing trend over the past quarter-century, for convenience of both citizens and those counting the ballots.
“Voting by mail offers California voters a convenient, hassle-free way to participate in our elections,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a press release Tuesday.
“As ballots begin to arrive, Californians should make a plan for how they will cast their ballot,” he said. “Voting by mail allows California voters to complete their ballots in the comfort of their own homes and saves a trip to the polls on Election Day.”
Unfortunately, the trend in Sonoma County hasn’t significantly sped up the vote count because of the number of mail-in ballots brought to the polls on Election Day, each requiring signature verification that extends the official count.
“People want us to hurry, but we’d rather be right than quick,” Thompson-Stalder said.
Voters who have not received their mail-in ballot by Oct. 19 should call the elections office at 707-565-6800, she said.
In the last general election — in November 2016 — the county had 170,542 permanent mail-in voters, amounting to 62 percent of registered voters, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Statewide, there were 9.9 million permanent mail-in voters, or 51 percent of registered voters.
In the November 1992 general election, Sonoma County had 7,293 permanent mail-in voters, just 3 percent of registered voters and the state had 113,218 permanent mail-in voters, fewer than 1 percent of registered voters.
The last day to register to vote online or by mail in the Nov. 6 election is Oct. 22. Voters may register until Election Day at the registrar’s office, 435 Fiscal Drive., Santa Rosa. Online registration is at registertovote.ca.gov.
There will be 185 polling places for next month’s election.