For Immediate ReleaseMay 25, 2021
Compliance with Voter’s Choice Act are in the works
San Rafael, CA – By June 2022, Marin County will have regional vote centers for multiple days at spots around the county instead of traditional Election Day polling places in each precinct. The Marin County Elections Department is working on the implementation of that change, prompted by the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) of 2016.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution May 25 confirming plans to comply with the law, also called Senate Bill 450.
Voting by mail is already wildly popular in Marin. Registrar of Voters Lynda Roberts said the number of voters choosing to register as permanent vote-by-mail participants has steadily increased since 2006 and is now more than 80% of all local registered voters.
The November 2020 Presidential Election was largely a vote-by-mail affair in California because of the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about crowds, and the need for social distancing. For the first time in state history, legislation required all registered voters to receive a mail-in ballot and postage-paid return envelope. In the end, local voter turnout was 90% – the second highest in documented Marin history – and 92% of ballots cast in Marin arrived by mail; only 8% of voters went to polling stations.
As part of the VCA, every registered voter will receive a vote-by-mail ballot packet starting 29 days before an election, and Elections Department staff will pinpoint the locations of the new vote centers based on statutory criteria. The number of vote centers around Marin and ballot drop box locations will be determined by the number of registered voters on the 88th day before an election. Using current figures, Roberts said 18 vote centers would be open for multiple days and 12 secure drop boxes would be installed around the county.
For added convenience, voters will be able to cast ballots or drop off filled-out ballots at any vote center during the 11-day voting period, not just their local precinct. Vote centers will be set up for a full array of services such as voter registration, provisional ballots, replacement ballots, and use of accessible voting equipment.
The first time the VCA will be in effect will be during the statewide primary of June 7, 2022.
“Nothing will look different for mail-in voters, the vast majority of Marin voters, except for the added convenience of several ballot drop boxes throughout the County like we had in the November 2020 election,” Roberts said. “We believe those who need in-person services will enjoy the added flexibility and convenience of these modernized vote centers. To enhance our commitment to equity and ensuring every eligible voter has increased opportunity to vote, we will include vote center sites in minority language communities with bilingual personnel and in lower-income communities to encourage election participation. Our staff is working with community representatives to ensure equity of voting opportunities among all eligible residents, and we will closely watch voting statistics to evaluate our success.”
The Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of a new voting system in 2019 with the intent of transitioning to VCA in 2022. As part of the 2019-20 County budget, the Board approved a limited-term project manager in Elections to help manage the transition to VCA. Additional one-time start-up costs are estimated at $530,000 to purchase required equipment, online training, and voter outreach, but Roberts said about 95% of that funding likely will be covered by grants.
Learn more about the local election process or check your registration status on www.marinvotes.org, and follow the Elections Department on Facebook.
Lynda RobertsRegistrar of VotersElections Department
Marin Civic Center Administration Building3501 Civic Center DriveSuite 121San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6401Email: Lynda RobertsElections website