A voter drops a ballot in a drop box
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Civic Life

California’s recall election is Tuesday: What you need to know about casting your vote in Santa Cruz County

Gov. Gavin Newsom faces recall on Tuesday’s ballot. Nearly half of eligible Santa Cruz County voters have already cast their votes. Here’s what you can do if you aren’t yet among them.

On Tuesday, all eyes will be on California as voters decide whether or not to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, and if so, who should replace him.

As Election Day approaches, here’s what you need to know about voting in Santa Cruz County:

Where can I turn in my ballot?

Due to the pandemic, the State of California mailed all registered voters a ballot in mid-August. Voters may mail in their ballots or return them in person.

Santa Cruz voters can drop their ballots at one of the 24/7 ballot drop boxes or any of the in-person voting locations, including the Santa Cruz County and Watsonville city clerk offices. There are nearly 20 other voting locations throughout the county, such as the Civic Auditorium and the Masonic Center in Santa Cruz, where voters can return their ballots in person.

The county can provide a replacement ballot at any in-person voting location. These locations also provide tablets to vote on a Spanish or accessible ballot and are following COVID-19 safety protocols.

What is the deadline for returning my ballot?

All in-person voting locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Election Day. All ballots must be returned to drop boxes by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked on or before 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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Can I still register to vote?

California allows same-day voter registration for eligible citizens. In Santa Cruz County, residents can register and turn in a ballot at any of the in-person voting locations.

How many people have voted in Santa Cruz?

As of Monday, 45% of the more than 170,000 registered voters in Santa Cruz County had returned their ballots, according to the data from county’s election department.

This is slightly higher than the statewide return rate: As of Monday, 37% of California’s registered voters had returned their ballots, according to an election tracker from Political Data Intelligence, a nonpartisan supplier of election data. About 4.3 million registered Democrats have mailed in their ballots, compared to 2 million Republicans and 1.9 million independent voters.

In Santa Cruz County, preliminary election results will be available on the county’s website between 8 and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, after the polls close.