RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Nearly 450,000 mail-in ballots have been returned to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters office as of Thursday, just over one-third of the total sent out countywide for Tuesday’s general election.
A total 1,243,154 mail-in ballots have been distributed, intended for every one of the county’s registered voters. Compared to four years ago, the registration roll has increased 22%, according to the registrar’s office. In October 2016, there were 1,022,375 registered voters in the county.
Registrar Rebecca Spencer told City News Service last week that ballot returns in the current election cycle were nearly twice what the office processed during the same period in the 2016 presidential election cycle.
Residents who have recently registered are eligible to receive an absentee ballot, straight up to election day. 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 were distributed for this general election whether or not someone requested to receive 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 Tuesday, despite what may be a record-setting volume of ballots to tabulate.
She said the initial results are slated to be posted on the website at 8:30 p.m., 30 minutes after polls close. 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.
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. next Wednesday, 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 Wednesday 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 Tuesday. 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.