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This year, Valley Public Radio is doing elections coverage differently. We’re asking listeners and residents, what do you want candidates to talk about? Are you concerned about healthcare, housing, or homelessness?We put out a survey from July through October to find out. More than 150 residents throughout the San Joaquin Valley took the survey.The most concerning issue for many is how the economy will recover from COVID-19. Others identified housing and homelessness in local communities as a major issue; others were most concerned for the environment. As we interview candidates and continue our election coverage, we’ll keep these responses in mind. You can keep up with our coverage on this page, or send questions about our process to Laura Tsutsui at ltsutsui@kvpr.org.

Ballots Are Hitting Mailboxes Soon: Here’s How To Ensure Your Ballot Is Counted

Monica Velez
Valley Public Radio
This year, every voter will receive their ballot in the mail, along with an "I Voted" sticker. This will give voters the option to mail back their ballots and avoid crowds on election day.

The election is less than 40 days away and we want to make sure your vote gets counted. We checked in with registrars of voters throughout the San Joaquin Valley to ask what voters should do to make sure their ballot is cast properly.

The biggest change for most registered voters is that everyone will be mailed a ballot. Those are expected to be mailed out Oct. 5, and arrive soon thereafter. The last day to register online to vote is Oct. 19, fifteen days ahead of the election. However, one can also visit their county registrar of voters to register and vote in person after that deadline. 

Madera, Mariposa and Fresno Counties all implemented a Voters Choice Act Model, which they used in March, so those voters have already experienced receiving a ballot in the mail ahead of the election. Those counties will also continue to have ballot drop boxes available in early October, and some Vote Centers open as early as ten days ahead of the election. The locations and hours of specific vote centers will be mailed to voters.

In Merced, Tulare and Kings Counties, one change to note is there will be fewer polling places, but one will have the option to visit any polling place within their county of residence to vote in person. Those locations will be open the weekend ahead of the election, starting Saturday Oct. 31, through election day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. 

In Kern County, in addition to polling places in every precinct, the county is establishing satellite offices to support voters who cannot make it to the registrar’s office in Bakersfield. 

With ballots being mailed out, voters will have the option to return it early by dropping it in a mailbox (and by the way, it does not need a stamp), or using a county drop box. Voters can now track their ballot using the state ballot tracking tool, which will send the user notifications about where their ballot is and when it is received by the elections office. 

Finally, registrars noted the most common mistake they see voters make is forgetting to sign the envelope they return their ballot in. If there’s a discrepancy in the signature, that can also slow down the process, so registrars encourage voters to update their signature if it has changed, or simply if it’s been a while since they first registered. 

Listen to the interview above to hear more about what voters can do to ensure their ballots are counted.

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.
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