701 OCEAN ST., ROOM 210
831-454-2060 / FAX: 831-454-2445
Toll Free 1-866-282-5900

May 12, 2009
Contact: Gail L. Pellerin, County Clerk
831-359-3628 (mobile)

Vote-by-Mail Voters Urged to Return Ballots for May Special Statewide Election

Less than 25 percent of the more than 55,000 voters who are voting by mail in the May 19 Special Statewide Election have returned their ballots, and Election Day is only a week away.

Voters must return their voted ballot to the voters’ county of residence by 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 19. First class postage increased this week, so the cost to return a voted ballot in Santa Cruz County is now 44 cents. As an alternative to mailing, voters may hand deliver their ballot to either the Santa Cruz County Clerk/Elections Department or one of the City Clerk's offices in Capitola, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley or Watsonville or drop their ballot off at any of the 95 voting precincts in Santa Cruz County on Election Day, Tuesday, May 19.

In addition, there are two drop boxes available 24 hours a day until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19. One is located at the Santa Cruz County Government Center. It is a white mailbox-style container in front of the government center where voters may drive-up and drop off their ballots without having to leave their cars. The other drop box is in Watsonville, and it is located on Union Street by the Police Department.

Voters should be aware of the strict laws governing return of their voted vote-by-mail ballot. The law prohibits any vote-by-mail ballot to be returned by any paid or volunteer worker of any campaign. Any person who receives a voted ballot in violation of the law is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.

The law does, however, allow a voter, who because of illness or other disability, to authorize certain relatives or a household member to return the ballot for them. In the six days prior to the election, the law further allows any person authorized in writing by the voter to pick up his or her ballot and return the voted ballot on behalf of the voter.

Both the Santa Cruz County Clerk/Elections Department, 701 Ocean St., Room 210 in Santa Cruz and Watsonville City Hall, 275 Main St., 4th Floor, in Watsonville, will be open this Saturday and Sunday, May 16 and 17, for weekend voting from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Monday, the day before Election Day, the Santa Cruz County Elections Department and the Watsonville City Clerk’s Early Voting Center will be open during regular office hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for voting or dropping off ballots. On Election Day, the County Elections Department and Watsonville City Clerk’s Office will be open during regular polling hours from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Santa Cruz County election officials remind voters who are returning their vote-by-mail ballots that they must sign the declaration on the outside of the envelope. Unfortunately, if there is no signature or if the signature on the vote-by-mail ballot return envelope does not compare to the voter's signature on his or her voter's registration card, election officials cannot count the ballot.