Fewer polling places in Santa Clara County

October 17, 2008 5:31:33 PM PDT
Election Day is about choice. However, thousands of Bay Area voters are finding out that when it comes to how they will cast their ballots, they do not get a choice.

"I thought it was crazy," said 20-year-old Kelsie Eller. Eller and her mother got a letter recently telling them they now could only vote by mail.

"Not by choice either. They just sent a paper to me," said Eller who would rather vote in a box.

About 30,000 registered voters in selected areas of Santa Clara County have been told they are now in a mail-only voting precinct.

"I think we have 357 mail ballot-only precincts. They don't have voting precincts where they can actually show up on Election Day," said Elaine Larson, assistant registrar of voters.

"People were very uptight because they were told erroneously that their polling place would be closed down," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado.

Alvarado says the message voters received was incomplete. Polling places would not be closed, but have to be combined.

"By law, if we have less than 250 voters in a particular precinct or polling place, we need to combine it with others," said Alvarado.

The county says the reason that hundreds of polling places have to be combined is that the number of absentee voters in the county has increased to 68 percent of all registered voters.

"It is anticipated that 85 percent of all eligible voters are going to vote this year. So the hope that many will use absentee ballots is practical," said Alvarado.

"This is nothing new, but it's new to certain individuals," said Larson.

Larson says the people in vote by mail-only districts can actually take their mail ballots to any polling place in the county if they actually want to vote in a booth.

The deadline to register to vote in California is Monday, October 20th.


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