MERCED – In 2015, the Registrar of Voters undertook the process of revising and updating voting precincts in Merced County.
Voting precincts are defined by what voters at a particular address are able to vote for. For example; one voter might be able to vote for one City Council District A, while his neighbor across the street, votes for District B. This means that the two voters would receive different ballots if a City Council race was up for election. Mapping out all of the different districts; County Supervisor, School Board, City Council, Water Districts, etc., determines how many different precincts there are within the County.
Largely due to local school boards and city councils going to election by district or area instead of at-large, it was necessary to reallocate our poll workers, voting equipment, and supplies to accommodate those who live in areas of higher-density numbers of registered voters.
Many of the new precincts have fewer registered voters living in them and California law allows for precincts with fewer than 250 voters to be converted to all mail precincts. Because of this, the Registrar’s office has increased the number of precincts that will be automatically receiving a vote-by-mail ballot.
The precinct changes were necessary for numerous reasons. The number of vote-by-mail voters has increased every election cycle, making opening and maintaining a polling location less cost efficient as the number of inperson voters decreases. Equipment costs and availability, a greater number of different types of ballots (due to the increase in precincts), the difficulty in locating additional polling locations which meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, along with enlisting, training, and paying additional poll workers, all add to the complexity and increased costs of running an election with a greater number of polling locations.
The Registrar’s office can decrease the complexity of the election while, at the same time, increasing its efficiency, by increasing the number of all mail precincts.
Voters whose precinct is being converted to all mail will be receiving a notification postcard in the mail shortly. These voters will receive their ballots for the June Primary through the mail starting May 9 and can return them by mail at any time. Voters in these all mail precincts will receive a postage paid return envelope for their ballot. Prior to Election Day, voters can also return their vote-by-mail ballot by dropping it off at the Registrar’s office or at designated locations throughout the County.
Vote by mail ballots received shortly before or on Election Day are processed and counted before the close of polls on Election Day. The results of the count of these ballots are the first results released upon the close of polls at 8 p.m. on Election night. Although preliminary results are released on Election Night, the results of any contest or measure are not final until the election results are certified. Election results are certified only after all ballots received are processed. Every voter should know that their vote by mail ballot will be counted as long as it is in received in our office or at any of our polling places in its signed envelope before 8 p.m. on Election Day. New legislation allows ballots to be counted if they are signed and postmarked on Election Day and received by the Registrar up to three days after the election. Merced County will be working with the local post offices to retrieve any ballots from their facilities through Friday, June 10.
Voters who prefer to return their ballot on Election Day can also return it to any polling location throughout the County. A list of all polling locations will be included in your voter information.
For more information regarding Merced County, please visit our website at www.co.merced.ca.us