There is a time to be born, a time to die, a time for all things, including a time to vote.
While we acknowledge the first two points as facts of life, the latter time is upon us once again, too, with fewer than 50 days until Election Day, Nov. 8.
The last day to register to vote for anyone 18 or older is Oct. 29, which is noted on the Official Voter Information Guide, copies of which have been mailed to registered voters in California.
Same-day voting is allowed at the Solano County Registrar of Voters after the deadline, up to and including Election Day, in the County Government Center, 675 Texas St., on the second floor (room 2600), in Fairfield. For more information, call 784-6675 or, toll-free, 888- 933-8683.
Requirements are simple: Besides being at least 18 on Election Day, you must be a U.S. citizen; be a resident of California; not currently serving a state or federal prison term for a felony conviction; and not deemed mentally incompetent by a court.
In Solano County, preparations at the registrar are well underway, and Assistant Registrar of Voters John Gardner, during an interview Tuesday on the registrar’s fourth-floor office space, pointed to several stacks of voter packets and ballots to be mailed to U.S. military service members across the globe and also to American civilian workers overseas.
Nearby, four registrar employees gathered at a computer terminal, with many more terminals scattered throughout the well-light office space waiting for several dozen and full-time and seasonal workers to process ballots. In the coming days, the registrar will hire some 1,000 paid volunteers, most of them poll workers, to make the election go smoothly, said Gardner.
Nonprofit clubs may “adopt” a polling station, using the stipends as a fundraiser for their organizations, he said.
He expects a 60% voter turnout for the midterm election, calling the number “pretty reasonable,” based on previous turnout numbers for other midterm elections. As of Sept. 19, Solano had 259,703 registered voters. Of those, 127,161 were Democrat, 57,033 Republican, and 75,509 listed as “other.”
As they have for recent past elections, every registered voter in California will receive a vote-by-mail ballot, noted Gardner, adding that they will be mailed on or before Oct. 10. The mail-in ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 8.
For those who like to get it over with, Solano voters can return their ballots as soon as they are received, which will occur during the week of Oct. 11, he said, adding that drop boxes will be available throughout the county — 25 of them in all — through Election Day. The County Government Center has a 24-hour drop box.
Solano County does not have “vote centers,” as some counties do, he pointed out — just polling stations, 68 of them, that will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Nov. 8.
Voters have the choice of in-person voting on Election Day, of course, but they also may drop off their completed ballots at the polls. However, as noted on the registrar’s website, solanocounty.com/depts/rov, the number of polling stations this year has been reduced as a cost-savings, in part because data shows that 90% of Solano voters are mailing their ballots. In-person voters should check the website for the address of their polling place, said Gardner.
To tally ballots, the registrar uses machines purchased from Hart Intercivic, a Texas-based firm, and 13 other California counties use the same system, he said.
While ballots are processed by electronic counting machines, the paper ballots are used as a backup should questions arise about the accuracy of the count and for audits.
“We do a larger audit that what is required,” said Gardner.
For anyone who questions the tabulating process or wants a tour of the registrar offices, they are welcomed and “encouraged to come down and get a tour,” he said, adding that “observers” are invited to oversee the ballot tabulation.
On Election Day, it is likely the first tally will be released shortly after 8 p.m., then updated throughout the night. The count will take “several days” and will be certified “probably after Thanksgiving,” said Gardner.
It is unclear what will draw voters to complete their ballots or get them to the polls, but several state initiatives and local tax measures are on the midterm ballot.
Among them are Proposition 1, the constitutional right to reproductive freedom; the gambling initiatives, Propositions 26 and 27; Proposition 28, extra funding for arts and music in public schools; Proposition 29, requiring a licensed medical professional at kidney dialysis clinics; Proposition 30, funding for programs to reduce air pollution and prevent wildfires by boosting taxes on personal income over $2 million; and Proposition 31, a referendum on the 2020 law that prohibits the retail sale of certain flavored tobacco products.
All the expected federal, state and local candidates are on the ballot, including House races locally in Districts 4, 7 and 8; local Assembly District 11; District 3 of the Board of Supervisors; the Solano County Board of Education; Solano Community College governing board; local school districts; water and irrigation districts; and city council members.
Among the races to watch is one for the U.S. Senate, with the seat voted on twice: once to fill the remainder of former Sen. Kamala Harris’ term, which ends in January 2023, and once to fill the full term starting in January 2023. The two facing off are sitting Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat, and Mark P. Meuser, a Republican and an attorney.
For more information, visit sos.ca.gov/elections.