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What is the Voters Choice Act?

The Voters Choice Act is a new law passed by the California State Legislature in 2016. The VCA was implemented successfully in the Counties of Butte, Nevada, El Dorado, Amador, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Napa, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and Orange.  

What’s changing?​

Starting with the June 7, 2022, Statewide Direct Primary Election 

  1. Every registered voter will be mailed a Vote-by-Mail ballot starting 29 days before Election Day
  2. The ballot you receive in the mail can be returned by mail, in-person at a voting location or at an official ballot drop box
  3. In-person voting is still available. Voters can vote at any of the Vote Centers in Santa Cruz County
    1. 2 Voting Locations will be open for 29 days, including Election Day
    2. 5 Vote Centers will be open 11 days, including Election Day
    3. 13 Additional Vote Centers will be open for 4 days, including Election Day
  4. 17 Drop Boxes will be available for 29 days, including Election Day

Compared to the traditional polling place model, there are more locations to get a replacement ballot (on-demand), more accessible voting machines, and more language assistance at Vote Centers.

What is a Vote Center?

Vote Centers replace traditional polling places. Any Santa Cruz County voter may vote at any Vote Center within Santa Cruz County. Some Vote Centers will be open for 11 days and all Vote Center locations will be open 4 days, including Election Day.

Vote Centers offer a full-service voting experience:

  • Vote using an accessible ballot marking device.
  • Receive voting assistance.
  • Register to vote or update your registration and vote on the same day.
  • Request a replacement ballot.

Election Administration Plan:

The Election Administration Plan (EAP) is the roadmap that Santa Cruz County Clerk/Elections will use to conduct elections under the Voters Choice Act.   The EAP details how you:

  • will receive a ballot in the mail
  • can return the ballot that was mailed to you
  • can vote in-person
  • can vote using an accessible ballot marking device
  • can obtain language services
  • and more!

Consultation Meetings were held on Monday, April 18, 2022 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm and Tuesday, April 19, 2022 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Input from these meetings were used to develop the Draft EAP.

A Draft Election Administration Plan (Draft EAP) was been posted on April 22, 2022, for public comment. Please click here to view it.   The Draft EAP lists the proposed in-person voting locations, the dates and times each of them are open, and the ballot drop off locations.

Public comment was accepted through May 5, 2022, and using those comments an Amended Draft EAP was posted on May 10, 2022. Please click here to view it.

We continue to seek public input on the Amended Draft EAP from:

  • interested residents
  • representatives from the disability community
  • representatives from the language community
  • community organizations providing services to individuals with disabilities and language needs

Election Administration Plan Public Input:

You can comment on the Amended Draft EAP between now and 7:30pm on Tuesday, May 24, 2022:

Attend in person at the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 701 Ocean Street, 5th Floor, Santa Cruz, or online via Zoom by clicking the dates listed above.

On May 24, 2022, the EAP will be sent to the California Secretary of State for final approval for implementation.

Election Administration Plan Public Continued Input:

Following certification of the June 7, 2022 election, the County Clerk/Elections office will review the approved EAP and create a supplemental EAP with lessons learned from the election. The supplemental EAP will help to shape the administration of the November 8, 2022 election. The methods of public comment will be kept active during the June election to gather input from the public, which in addition to staff recommendations, will craft the information in the supplemental EAP. Public display of the supplemental EAP will be the last two weeks of July and public hearings will be held in August. The hearing dates, times and Zoom links will be posted at the same time.

This supplemental will allow for more public discussion and input into the administration of elections under the VCA in Santa Cruz County.

 

Public Workshops to see how a Vote Center operates

Two public workshops are scheduled on May 26 and 27, where members of the public can experience a Vote Center in a practice environment.  Staff from the County Clerk/Elections office will be there to take you through the process from curbside voting with the exterior drop box, through check-in, using a paper ballot or accessible marking device that creates a paper ballot, exploring Spanish language options, voter assistance, and finally casting your ballot.  

The workshops are at:

  • Thursday, May 26, 4pm-6pm at Felton Library, 6121 Gushee St
  • Friday, May 27, 9am-11am at Watsonville Civic Plaza Community Room, 275 Main St., 4th Flr