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Lots of options, protections in place for SJC’s 365,587 registered votes for primary balloting
city hall ballot box
Manteca City Clerk Cassandra Candini-Tilton with the county’s secure ballot drop-off box at the Manteca Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

Voting has started in the March 5 primary election.

And no less than three registered voters over the span of 10 minutes just before 2 p.m. on Thursday took advantage of one of a number ways they can make sure their vote counts.

They dropped their completed, signed, and sealed mail-in ballots off at the ballot box at Manteca City Hall, 1001 W. Center St.

And it is far from being your grandfather’s ballot box that in comparison was a flimsy and low level security affair.

It is more worthy of something Brinks — the armored vehicle transport security firm — would commission to have built

*It’s definitely bigger than a bread box as it’s got more cubic feet and then some than a double door refrigerator-freezer.

*It’s heavier than a double-door refrigerator freezer weighing in at over 1,200 pounds.

*There are security cameras providing live feeds guarding it.

*It is bolted by heavy duty bolts into a cement pad.

*The pathway — as well as the ballot box itself — is well lit allowing for 24/7 security for voters and the box.

*Ballots are collected daily by authorized elections department personnel.

*There are even seals changed daily on the outside and inside before personnel can actually reach the secured ballot box inside to collect the ballots as a redundancy precaution to make sure there was no tampering with the ballot box.

The  red, white, and blue box with the Registrar of Voters logo and a supersized QR scan code is located in the Manteca Civic Center breezeway across from the front entrance of the Manteca Police Station.

It is accessible from parking lots off of Center Street and Cherry Lane. It is also within several hundred feet of a Manteca Transit bus stop.

It is all part of the efforts of San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Olivia Hale to safeguard your vote and to make it is as easy — and as secure — as possible to cast a ballot.

There are similar ballot boxes at every city hall complex in San Joaquin County.

Hale spoke before the Manteca Rotary meeting at Ernie’s Rendezvous Room Thursday to provide an overview of steps the county has taken to assure the integrity and access to the ballot box.

As of Thursday at 8 a.m., there were 365,587 registered votes countywide out of an overall population of population of 762,000.

The county has more than 80,000 voters that are not registered with one of five political parties, which Hale indicated is on the high side for California counties.

At the same time, San Joaquin County opted to retain the ability to vote in-person at community polling places on Election Day as well as comply with the state mandate that all elections have ballots mailed to registered voters.

If past trends hold, 10 percent or so of those 365,687 voters will cast their ballots in person on March 5 between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. at 153 various polling locations.

And those that do will have the option of actually making sure their ballot is counted before they leave the polling place.

They can do so by running it through a scanner at the polling places.

Once scanned, the votes are stored on an electronic device that is not connected to a computer or has Internet access capabilities.

After the polls close and the device along with dropped off mail-in ballots and other ballots that were cast in person are taken to a secure locating in Stockton, the scanned votes are downloaded via a USB flash drive.

Those votes scanned in that manner — as well as all mail-in ballots received by the Friday before the election that have been processed — will be part of the first count results.

The other votes cast at the polling places are counted next given their signatures have already been verified against the official voting rolls at the polling locations.

The mail-in ballots dropped off at the polling places on election on Election Day and received in the mail after Friday and are postmarked no later than March 5 are then processed.

It takes three scans to do so.

The first is to retrieve the signature.

The second is to compare it with all signatures of that voter on file.

The third is by precinct to tally the vote.

It is the main reason why — along with various provisional ballots where information of the voters connected with ballots cast needs to be verified — it can take several weeks for the “final” unofficial tally to be announced.

The state deadline for Hale to issue certified results — after various “recount samples” are done to verify the accuracy of the count — is April 12.

The reason the “final” unofficial tally tasks so long is due to the number of voters either mailing back their ballots in the final few days or dropping them off at polling places.

In the last election, 135,000 of the 175,000 mail-in ballots cast were received on the final Monday and Tuesday.

Hale said the varied ways to cast votes are designed to accommodate lifestyles and preferences whether it is a commuter, a farm worker, or even someone who is in a hospital.

Voters can cast ballots by:

*Mailing them in.

*Dropping them off 24/7 at the secured ballot box locations.

*Dropping them off at the county elections office.

*Dropping them off on election day at polling places.

They can also vote in person from now until 8 p.m. during office hours at the elections department.

That is in addition to voting in person at your assigned polling location.

Hale said the department is in need of polling workers 16 years and older for election day. They can make up to $200 as well as receive $35 for taking a mandatory online training program.

Additional information about voting or how to become a poll worker is available by calling 209-468-8683.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email