The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a rethinking of voting procedures across the country. Santa Cruz County is also adapting to the catastrophic fire season as November approaches. Despite the setbacks, County Clerk Gail Pellerin remains optimistic about the upcoming election.
“There’s a lot more enthusiasm about this election than I’ve ever seen,” Pellerin said. “Everyone’s talking about this election. I’ve been doing this work since 1993 and there are some elections that I’m begging people to talk about, and this election, everyone is talking about it. So, that’s exciting.”
County clerks are responsible for preparing all ballots and procuring and maintaining voting machines. Additionally, county clerks recruit and train poll workers while overseeing election conduct.
To accommodate California’s universal mail-in ballot policy this cycle, in which every registered voter will be mailed an official ballot, Pellerin’s office is providing more ballot drop-off locations throughout the county, with 21 in total.
With more ballot drop boxes there have been some concerns regarding their security, particularly as unofficial collection boxes have recently been reported in southern California. The only official ballot boxes in Santa Cruz County are listed on the county clerk’s website.
“We need to have a piece of tape that says ‘push here’ because people can’t find the opening,” Pellerin said. “It’s so secure you can’t find how to put [the ballot] in.”
In addition to ballot boxes and the 19 in-person voting locations, this election cycle has also seen the advent of the Santa Cruz County VoteMobile. The VoteMobile is a county clerk satellite office inside a trailer, with star-spangled decals to match.
“It’s like the Batmobile!” Pellerin said. “[People] can register, they can turn in ballots. They can vote there, they can vote on a tablet. It’s our office duplicated and put out on the field.”
With its schedule posted on votescount.us, the VoteMobile can be found across Santa Cruz County, and will make a UC Santa Cruz campus appearance on Nov. 2 and 3.