(CNS) – The number of mail-in ballots returned to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters’ Office at this point is nearly double the intake at the same juncture during the previous presidential election in 2016, the registrar said Monday.
“We currently have 105,327 ballots returned,” Rebecca Spencer told City News Service. “At this point in time during the 2016 election cycle, we had 57,682 ballots returned.”
All registered voters countywide are being sent ballots, for a total to date of 1,224,213, according to Spencer.
Monday is the deadline to register to vote in California. Residents who have recently registered are eligible to receive an absentee ballot, straight up to election day on Nov. 3. Those who don’t receive one can still cast a provisional ballot at any one of the county’s 130 precincts, which can be located via http://www.voteinfo.net.
Under state provisions stemming from the coronavirus public health emergency, mail-in ballots are being distributed for this general election whether or not someone has requested one. Residents may still cast a ballot in person, however. Voter guides distributed by the registrar’s office contain precinct information, which is also available at the website.
The county has long experienced problems with posting returns on election night, but Spencer does not anticipate difficulties on Nov. 3, despite what may be a record-setting volume of ballots to tabulate.
According to the registrar, the initial results are slated to be posted on the website at 8:30 p.m. In previous elections, results have been delayed because of technical hiccups, and because polls remained open while late-arriving voters finished completing their ballots, leading to an embargo on publication for several hours.
Polls are scheduled to close at 8 p.m.
The Board of Supervisors specifically asked Spencer last month whether similar issues might hamstring operations on election night, and she indicated that the process should be smooth.
After the 8:30 p.m. update, Spencer said the next scheduled posting of returns is 9 p.m.
“That will be the midday ballots that we pick up from select locations on Election Day,” the registrar told CNS. “Hourly updates will be provided after 9 p.m. as the 130 voter assistance center location ballots start arriving at the Registrar of Voters’ Office.”
She said beginning about 1 a.m. on Nov. 4, updates will run roughly every two hours until all ballots at all precinct stations have been collected. The reporting system is expected to switch to daily updates after Nov. 4 as provisional, damaged and last-minute mail-in ballots are processed.
Spencer said mail-in ballots will still be counted if they’re received within 17 days of Election Day, but they must be postmarked Nov. 3. The previous deadline was three days after the election. Adjustments were made at the state level because of impacts to mail deliveries.
Voters who prefer to drop their ballots for retrieval can use any one of 80 drop-off sites open now through Nov. 3. Along with the registrar’s headquarters on Gateway Drive in Riverside, there are certified secure drop spots in libraries, senior centers, community centers, municipal and county offices. A complete list is available via the registrar’s web portal.
State law requires that all county election results be certified by Dec. 3, according to the registrar’s office.