Santa Rosa, CA – August 14, 2020 – The Sonoma County Registrar of Voters Office is requesting public feedback on proposed in-person voting locations, as well as secure ballot drop boxes, for the Nov. 3 General Election. Feedback will be accepted through Monday, August 24, 2020. A map of these proposed locations, as well as other data, can be found on the Registrar of Voters’ website.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the November election will be conducted unlike previous elections in Sonoma County. All active, registered voters will receive a ballot in the mail in October. Voters will then have the choice of mailing their ballots back postage-paid, dropping their ballots off in one of numerous secure ballot drop boxes throughout the County, returning their ballots to any in-person voting location, or voting in person.
There will be a minimum of 30 in-person voting locations spread throughout the County. They will be open for voting from Saturday, October 31, 2020 through Election Day on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. In-person voting will be available for a minimum of eight hours per day on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. There will also be a minimum of 20 secure ballot drop boxes available for the public to use to return ballots starting in early October.
Recently passed legislation, Senate Bill 423, provides counties with two options for in-person voting locations. The first option is to provide the same in-person voting locations as were available for the March Primary Election. This was not feasible in Sonoma County as the previous election relied heavily on schools and senior facilities for polling places. The Sonoma County Office of Education informed the Registrar of Voters Office that schools would likely be unavailable to use for voting in November due to safety concerns and a desire to contain school campuses to students and faculty only. Additionally, a number of senior facilities and other polling places were unavailable for voting in November due to health concerns.
Instead, Sonoma County is pursuing the second option, which is to provide a minimum of one voting location for every 10,000 voters and one secure ballot drop box per 15,000 voters. To select the location sites, the Registrar of Voters considered demographic and voting data, including population centers, historically low vote-by-mail usage, households with low rates of vehicle ownership, and language minority communities. These data are provided in the proposed voting locations map, along with a modeled map that combines all the considered criteria.
The Registrar of Voters Office also focused on creating larger voting locations in areas that indicate a higher need. These larger facilities will provide voters and election staff space for social distancing and safety precautions. Smaller locations were secured in areas that could minimize driving distances and times. Many areas of need will not contain a proposed voting location due to a lack of suitable or available facilities.
The proposed locations for secure ballot drop boxes and in-person voting centers are not final. The Registrar of Voters welcomes feedback, comments and suggestions regarding these proposed locations. The Registrar of Voters sincerely thanks the facilities and organizations that are willing to be available as voting locations and contribute to democracy.
The public is encouraged to sign up to vote or update their information at RegisterToVote.ca.gov, to check their voter status at VoterStatus.ca.gov, and to sign up to track their ballot at WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov.