Above, Isla Vista students vote in the presidential election on November 8, 2016. This year the polls will stay open for four days instead of one, and at least 270 people are needed to staff both North and South County voting locations. | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

The traditional worker bees at Santa Barbara County’s polling places are retirees, but with COVID keeping the vulnerable elderly population at home, the County Elections Division needs young people to step up. This year, the polls will stay open for four days instead of one, and at least 540 people are needed to staff North and South County voting locations.

The support staff positions pay $16 per hour, and an online training session is required to learn the computerized side of the system, with further training at the polling booths themselves. Applicants must be registered to vote in California or have permanent residency in the United States.

The polls will be open for eight hours on October 31 to November 2; the actual hours are not yet set but will be between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. On Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, the voting booths remain open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.; for pollworkers, their shift will run the entire day from about 6:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.

Poll-worker applications and descriptions of the various positions can be found at the Election Officer (Pollworker) Information and Application page here or by calling (800) SBC-VOTE or (800) 722-8683. People who are already employed by the county can apply to be field supervisors.

In-Person Polling Places

By the time sample ballots and voter information pamphlets are mailed around September 24, the elections office will have determined the location of each voter’s polling place, which is printed on the documents, said Hector Gonzalez-Loera with County Elections. He and the county elections staff are taking comment now on confirmed polling locations — and suggestions for alternate sites — at the elections website’s In-Person Voting page here. The site also shows the roughly 130 locations that have been eliminated for one reason or another.

Vote-by-Mail Ballots

Although the county is getting ready for citizens to step up to the voting booth to cast their ballot, California is sending vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters for the November 2020 election to ensure everyone has the chance to vote safely in the time of COVID-19. Given the logistics of voting and returning the thousands of ballots, county elections officials advise that voters mail in their ballot soon after receiving them. They are set to be delivered the week of October 5.

Should a voter not receive a ballot that week, they should contact the Elections Division, said Gonzalez-Loera. The three offices are in Santa Barbara (4440-A Calle Real), Santa Maria (511 E. Lakeside Pkwy.), and Lompoc (401 E. Cypress St., Rm. 102). All three can be reached at (800) SBC-VOTE or (800) 722-8683. Replacement ballots will also be available at polling places.

Thorough explanations on marking the ballot correctly, signing the envelope, and returning them — no postage is required — can be found at the Vote by Mail page here. In addition to putting the ballot in the U.S. mail, the Elections Division will have as many as 33 secure ballot drop-off boxes will be sited around the county, but the exact locations for most of them are still being surveyed, Gonzalez-Loera said.

Once a vote is cast, California will track the journey the envelope takes through BallotTrax. Santa Barbara County is participating in the new program, and the information can be accessed here.

Have You Registered?

Uncertain if you’ve registered to vote in the November presidential election? The County Elections Division has a button for that, too. The My Voter Status button here directs to the state voter registration site where you can verify information, sign up for ballot tracking, receive voter information by email, and even see voting history.

Corrections: This story now clarifies that a total of 540 positions are available as support staff, not positions such as polling place coordinator or traffic clerk. The work times and polling place times have been updated.

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