Mail Vote for City Elections

Santa Barbara voters will soon be casting their ballots almost exclusively by mail. As the result of irreconcilable differences with county elections officials over the cost of city elections-which are held in off-years-Santa Barbara city officials opted to go their own way in 2007, hiring outside consultants to count votes. While that effort was $220,000 cheaper than what the county would have charged, city officials reckon they can save $50,000 more with mail-in elections. “Tastes good and less filling,” joked Councilmember Helene Schneider. “It costs less and increases voter turnout. What’s not to like?” Councilmembers Das Williams and Dale Francisco opposed the measure, while Iya Falcone abstained, without explaining her reasons for doing so. Under the mail-in system, voters would have a month to fill out ballots and mail them in. City Hall would maintain seven polling places. The City of Santa Barbara intentionally holds elections in off-years so that voters are more focused on city issues and not swept up by national or statewide considerations. Because Santa Barbara is now the only municipality in the county to do so, there are no other entities with which to share the costs.

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