City officials have expressed concern over fair voting access in the upcoming election after receiving reports of missing ballots from apartment residents.
According to an e-mail alert sent by Mayor Marty Blum Saturday morning, there have been a number of reports indicating that ballots mailed to apartment complexes and buildings were missing. This election, which includes mayoral and city council member candidates, is the city’s first-ever vote by mail election.
Last week, every registered Santa Barbara resident should have received a ballot in the mail. However, Blum said the ballots were mixed up with junk mail and never reached residents.
“The issue is that a couple people who live in apartments called me and each of them reported a problem,” Blum said. “Their ballots were not in their mailboxes, they were put underneath, with the junk mail.”
City Clerk Services Manager Cynthia Rodriguez said the clerk’s office learned of the issue Monday morning when residents began approaching them with questions.
“We heard about it [Monday] morning when people started calling,” Rodriguez said. “We want to send the message that if people have not received a ballot, then they should contact us directly.”
In order to guarantee a fair election, the City Clerk’s office has been working with the Postal Service to ensure all residents receive a ballot.
“We did work closely with Postmaster,” Rodriguez said. “We met with them a month and a half ago, and we are in constant communication with them.”
At first, Blum said she was concerned someone was stealing ballots from mailboxes in order to vote multiple times.
“The signature on the ballot will be checked with the signature from your [voter] registration,” Blum said. “And once you have voted, you are checked off. There is only one vote per person.”
Blum said residents who have not received a ballot should contact the City Clerk’s office.
“Because [the ballot] came in with their voter pamphlet, the actual ballot is in there. If someone accidentally tore it out or didn’t receive one, they need to call the City Clerk’s office,” Blum said. “Everyone should know there’s an election going on.”