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Alameda County’s Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis told us voters still have three different voting options on Election Day: send in your ballot through the postal service, place it in a ballot drop box, or go to a polling place to vote in-person.
According to the California Secretary of State, the state’s chief elections officer, ballots that are mailed must be postmarked today or before today, and received by the county elections officer—the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, in our case—no later than 17 days after Election Day. That makes November 20 the final day the county registrar can receive and count ballots sent by mail.
“If they use the U.S. Postal Service, we need to make sure that it’s getting postmarked today,” said Dupuis. “When we receive the mail, we look for the postmark and the postmark has to be either today or earlier…We cannot count anything that’s postmarked after Election Day. Sometimes we receive ballots with a late postmark on them, but it’s a nominal amount.”
According to the website Mailbox Locate, there are 176 mailboxes in Oakland. Collection times for USPS mailboxes are posted near the mail slot. The Oaklandside visited mailboxes around Oakland to verify collection times, also called cutoff times. For the mailbox on 1322 Webster Street in downtown, for example, the last collection time is at 3 p.m. The label also states the last collection time in the area, which is 8 p.m. at 1675 7th Street—the location of the USPS post office in West Oakland.
Some mailboxes have two collection times, like the ones at 200 13th St.
“Anything dropped off will get a postmark today, provided it’s before the cutoff time at the collection box,” USPS spokesperson Augustine Ruiz Jr. told us. “However, we are clearing all boxes past their pick-up times and searching for last-minute ballot mail, which we will notify local elections to either come pick them up or we will take directly to the elections office.”
Overall, “if people are unsure of whether or not [their ballot] is going to get postmarked today,” said county registrar Dupuis, they should use a ballot drop box. Voters can use the drop boxes until 8 p.m. tonight. After that, they’ll get locked and emptied.
Alameda County voters have 66 drop boxes throughout the county to choose from. Seventeen of those drop boxes are in Oakland. See The Oaklandside’s map to find them.
“Be aware of all of your options,” said Dupuis. There’s a lot of very convenient ways for you to get your ballot in.”
The Oaklandside contributor Jose Fermoso looked more closely at voting by mail in Oakland to see how secure the system is. If you’re voting in person today, Fermoso also wrote about voters’ rights and other things to be aware of.