It’ll be a few days before the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters knows exactly how many registered voters will be eligible to vote in the Nov. 6 election.
But according to the office that handles the county’s elections, there have been more registrations in the lead-up to the midterms than there were for the 2016 Presidential election – creating the possibility that more people will vote next month than did just two years ago.
“It’s entirely possible that we’ll see a record turnout for a midterm election,” said San Joaquin County Registrar Melinda Dubross. “We’re handling this election as if it were a Presidential election in terms of staffing and volunteers just to be sure.
“It’s definitely unusual to have this kind of registration rush, but these are unusual times.”
The deadline for voter registration was midnight on Tuesday morning, meaning that it will take a number of days for people who filled out paper registration forms to be entered into the system so that they’ll be able to cast their ballot on Nov. 6.
According Dubross, a number of mail ballots have already started to come in, and drop boxes have been strategically places throughout the county to allow those who take advantage of the vote-by-mail option to turn them in to a physical location – like Manteca City Hall – rather than to send them through the United States Postal Service.
And a recent change in the law means that those absentee ballots may be turned in to be counted in a completely new way.
While it used to be that only family members were able to turn in ballots for other residents of the same household, new regulations permit anybody to hand in an absentee ballot to a polling place as long as the person turning in the ballot is clearly identified on the envelope containing the ballot.
The new development threw some local voters for a loop when volunteers that were associated with individual candidates and campaigns showed up at people’s doors asking if they could collect their ballots.
Dubross said that she had heard of this happening in San Joaquin County, but noted that it is completely legal even if it voters may choose not to take advantage of such a service – essentially a voter turnout drive for the modern, vote-by-mail era.
In addition to the Congressional races that are drawing national attention in the area as the Democratic Party launches an effort to retake the House of Representatives, a number of high-stakes ballot initiatives are also up for a vote this November, something that could play into large turnouts especially at the local level.
Initiatives that would strengthen rent control laws, force emergency service workers to remain on-call during lunch breaks, and overturn California’s gas tax for transportation projects will all be decided by voters and are receiving a tremendous amount of special-interest money to generate buzz and influence voter participation.
Even the California gubernatorial election – long thought to be safely in the hands of Democrats – is generating buzz in a deep blue state.
“This could definitely end up being one for the record books,” Dubross said. “These are truly remarkable times.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.