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Voting While Evacuated

By Chris Finnie

For many of us right now, November seems like a long way away. And the election may not be high on our list of priorities. But ballots will be mailed out on October 5, and I had questions about whether or not I would get my ballot and voter’s guide if I’m still not able to live in my home. For anybody who was burned out, the question is even more difficult. So I called the Santa Cruz County Elections Department to find out what I should do.

First, you should know that election mail cannot be forwarded. Even if you’ve placed a forwarding order with the Post Office, it will be returned to the County and they will attempt to figure out where you are. Since many of us are scattered all over the place and moving a lot, that could be difficult. However, if your mail is being held at another Post Office than your normal one, they will continue to hold election mail for you.

If you go to the Elections Department website at www.votescount.us, you’ll see a red check near the top of the page to the left. It says “Current Activities” and the first section under that is for fire victims. It gives you a number of options to accommodate the various situations we all find ourselves in. The Elections Department provides links so you can:

Change your mailing address (https://www.votescount.us/Home/VoterRegistrationInformation/ChangeYourMailingAddress.aspx) for your election materials. You can have your election mail sent to your work, the home of a family member or friend, or to a post office box. Mark it as a “seasonal” change and it will revert to your previous address at the end of this year. You do not need to re-register to vote at this new address. You may keep your voting domicile for however long it takes you to rebuild. We suggest you change your mailing address by September 14, so your ballot and election materials will go to the correct location in the first mailing. If you miss that date, we can easily send you a replacement ballot.

Sign up to have your ballot emailed to you (https://www.votescount.us/MainMenu/VotingOptions/AccessibleVotingatHome.aspx). You can sign up to get a Remote Accessible Vote-By-Mail Ballot. We will email you an access code, to access your ballot and vote it. You will need to have a computer, printer, and envelopes to return your ballot.

Vote in person. (https://www.votescount.us/Home/UpcomingElections/November3,2020Election/Votinglocations1120.aspx) You can get a ballot in person at our Santa Cruz office or at the Watsonville City Clerk’s Office beginning October 5. We will have 15 other centers open October 31 to November 3 for in-person voting.

We are getting a mobile voting trailer! We can drive it to any location and provide opportunity for people to obtain a ballot and vote. We will schedule days to be in the fire-damaged areas and shelters to ensure everyone has access to voting. Please email us at info@votescount.us if you have a suggested location, date, and time.

Chris Finnie has lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains for 25 years. She’s worked as a marketing copywriter for more than 35 years. And has been a local, state, and national political activist for 17 years. She has contributed articles and columns to several local newspapers before happily landing at the San Lorenzo Valley Post at its inception.

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