Government / Politics

Ballot drop boxes installed around San Benito County

Locations offer safe, secure places for voters to turn in mail-in ballots.
Workers unload a ballot drop box. Photo by John Chadwell.
Workers unload a ballot drop box. Photo by John Chadwell.
Official ballot drop box in Ridgemark. Photo by Leslie David.
Official ballot drop box in Ridgemark. Photo by Leslie David.
Photo by Leslie David.
Photo by Leslie David.

As of Oct. 5, there are now nine ballot drop-off boxes scattered around San Benito County for the convenience and safety of voters participating in the Nov. 3 election.

“The first ballot box was installed in 2019 in Winn Alley outside the election office,” said Francisco Diaz, assistant county clerk-recorder-registrar of voters. “After an executive order by Gov. Gavin Newsom, five more were installed.”

Newsom signed the executive order March 4, proclaiming a state of emergency in California as a “result of the threat of COVID-19.”

The executive order states, in part: “To preserve public health in the face of the threat of COVID-19, and to ensure that the November election is accessible, secure, and safe, all Californians must be empowered to vote by mail, from the safety of their own homes.”

In addition to the drop box in Winn Alley, five others are at:

  • Fire Station #2, 2240 Valley View Road, Hollister
  • Community FoodBank, 1133 San Felipe Road, Hollister
  • Windmill Market, 301 The Alameda, San Juan Bautista
  • Ridgemark, 100 Ridgemark Drive, Hollister
  • Hollister Super, 1280 San Juan Road (located between True Value Hardware and Westside Liquors)

There are also temporary drop boxes at:

  • Aromas Fire Station, 492 Carpenteria Road
  • Tres Pinos Country Store, 6851 Airline Highway
  • Dunneville Café & Market, 5970 San Felipe Road

“The county funded the boxes through a grant from the secretary of state through the CARES act,” said Diaz. “The elections department is auditing the project to determine the cost of installation. Figures will be available after the election.”

Ballots will be picked up twice daily and three times on election day by two election staff members. The boxes will close at 8 p.m. that day. The five boxes that are considered permanent will not be removed after the election.

The drop box in Winn Alley has 24-hour surveillance, and the other boxes are in highly visible locations to help prevent vandalism and theft. Should anyone steal a box containing ballots, they could face felony fraud charges.

According to the California Election Code, “Any person who commits fraud or attempts to commit fraud, and any person who aids or abets fraud or attempts to aid or abet fraud, in connection with any vote cast, or attempted to be cast, to be cast, or attempted to be cast, is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years.”

 

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John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime that are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: johnchadwell@benitolink.com.