Santa Barbara County residents will begin casting vote-by-mail ballots this week for the statewide primary election in June.

Voters can mail their votes for the governor, a U.S. Senate seat and a number of local offices anytime until June 8. The winners of the primary will then run in a general election scheduled for Nov. 2.

The county’s registrar recorded that 101,000 ballots were mailed on Monday to registered voters.

Billie Alvarez, chief deputy registrar of voters for Santa Barbara County, said vote-by-mail ballots are convenient because they give people a 29-day period to mail in their votes.
“People can take their time filling out the ballots and really think about what they are voting for,” Alvarez said.

According to Alvarez, voting by mail has become popular in recent election cycles due, in part, to the influence of technology in addition to the ease of the mailing process. Over 50 percent of Santa Barbara County voters are registered to vote by mail and over 78 percent of them choose to do so each election.

“Technology is a driving force behind voting by mail, but it is mostly the convenience that voters appreciate,” Alvarez said. “You no longer have to get dressed and go to the polls and miss class or work.”

Voters can request a one-time election form by filling out the application on the back of a sample ballot and returning it by mail, costing the sender only the price of a postage stamp.
Any person currently registered to vote may also request a vote-by-mail ballot, which will be sent to their registered address for any election. As with one-time vote-by-mail submissions, an application must be completed and approved before permission is granted.

Applications must be received by June 1, but Alvarez said those who are unable to meet the deadline can go to the County Registrar’s office and personally request a vote-by-mail ballot.

Tarah Bateman, a third-year global studies major, said she wants to vote by mail because it gives her time to educate herself on current issues and candidates.

“I requested to vote by mail because I have a very busy school and work schedule, and I’ve yet to familiarize myself with the issues, so it will be nice to sit at my own desk on my own time and fill out my ballot,” she said.