Unprecedented turnout expected as early voting begins

Early voting has begun, and with it, problems at some drop sites. In Danville, two drop-boxes were locked, forcing some voters to hold onto their ballots. Contra Costa County election officials have apologized, and vowed to fix the problems.

The long line near San Francisco’s Civic Center signals this election cycle is like few others.

“This election is just so important this year. And I wanted to be assured my vote would be counted,” said registered voter Ken Lee.

Ken Lee and over a hundred others were casting their ballots on the first day of early voting at a new polling center that’s been set up outside, with overhead covering.

“It’s a challenge for us to move the voting center to be an outdoor operation,” said San Francisco Elections Director John Arntz.

He said the $200,000 center is designed to allay fears casting a ballot in person in the age of Covid, could compromise a person’s health.

“We have more air circulation. People aren’t gathering in-doors in large numbers. There’s more space for social distancing. Just more room for people to more around,” said Arntz. Added Lee, “It looks like a hospital inside. So it looks like they’ve got everything organized.”

Ballot drop-off boxes are being distributed across much of the Bay Area, including at the SAP Center in Downtown San Jose.

“They’re convenient. So somebody can come by here and drop off your ballots. They’re real secure. There’s security around here, cameras on the entire building. So they can’t run off with your ballot or take off with the boxes,” said registered voter Boyd Keahi, as he looked over the new drop boxes.

Santa Clara County officials held a virtual town hall meeting Monday, with officials explaining a tri-level confirmation process is in place to ensure all legal ballots are counted.

“Verification process is not done by machines. human eyes. We’re looking at every single ballot that comes in here to determine if it’s a match,” said Shannon Bushey, the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters. Added San Jose State University political scientist Dr. Mary Currin-Percival, “…This is really an election year where people are really getting a lot more attention not just to the election, but really the mechanics.”

She said voter turnout will likely be unprecedented due to concerns over the candidates, and the electoral process.

“There are all sorts of other groups that are echoing these efforts to encourage people to vote early, and I think it will make a difference,” said Currin-Percival.

Ballots must be postmarked by election day, November 3, and received no more than 17 days after that. A voter can track their ballot by going to KTVU's voter resources on the Election page, and you’ll be connected to a tracking link.