As part of a plan to save money and increase voter turnout, Santa Barbara city election workers mailed out 47,487 mail-in ballots on 10/3. The ballots began showing up in the mailboxes of registered city voters on 10/6. This election marks the first time Santa Barbara has conducted an all mail-in election. In 2007, twice as many voters cast ballots absentee style, but 5,500 still went to their polling booths to vote.
City administrators estimate this year’s election-in which the mayor’s position, three council seats, and four ballot initiatives are up for grabs-will be $50,000 cheaper. In addition, they claim that Burbank, the only California city to conduct mail-in elections (though there are municipalities in Washington and Oregon where mail-in voting is mandatory), has experienced steady increases in voter participation since switching to the mail-in approach. Voters wondering where their ballots are, or who have any other questions, can call 564-5309. Ballots must be turned in by 8 p.m., November 3. City election workers say voters who have not mailed their ballots in by October 30 should hand them in at one of seven drop-in centers. For their locations, see the Web site sbcityvote.org.