Officials working to make primary election smoothFree Access


Though this time of year is certainly busy for most people, a change in the primary election is making it even busier than normal for the Mariposa County Clerk’s Office.

With a major primary election looming in March, local officials are in the process of getting everything ready. In addition, for the first time, Mariposa County will be utilizing vote-by-mail ballots throughout the county.

“I have the absolute best interest of the voters at heart,” said Courtney Progner Morrow, chief deputy county clerk.

With that in mind, it was the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors which approved the move to mail-in ballots.

The move seems to make sense, since about 70 percent of Mariposa County voters use the mail-in system anyway. That has been the case for many years.

Now, all residents of the county who are registered voters will be getting ballots in the mail. Morrow said those ballots will be mailed on Feb. 3, one month before the March 3 primary election in California.

There are many factors which went into the decision to do an all mail-in ballot, including the remoteness of the county, convenience for voters and more. Morrow emphasized “election security” is of the highest priority and she feels the new system will make that even better.

Though everyone can vote by mail, there will still be opportunities for people to vote in person, if that is their choice.

There will be a pair of 10-day offices opened leading up to the March election.

Those offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the nine days prior to the election. The offices will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day, the same as the polling hours.

Those offices will be located at the clerk’s office in Mariposa and at the Bootjack Fire Station. Personnel from the clerk’s office will be staffing those offices.

In addition, two other offices will be open in the county for people who prefer to vote in person.

One will be at the El Portal Library and the second will be at the Greeley Hill Library.

The hours for those offices will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, March 2 and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3.

But officials are hoping that most voters take advantage of the new mail-in system.

Mariposa County Clerk Keith Williams stressed that postage is paid for by the county. No postage is necessary and voters simply have to fill out their ballots and mail them via the U.S. Postal Service.

Morrow also said there will be various “drop box” locations around the county where voters can place their ballots for pickup by the clerk’s office.

“I want to spread those around the county,” said Morrow.

She is hopeful to get them inside buildings which are typically open during normal business hours. That could be at a church, fire station, store or a number of locations.

Morrow said she is still in the process of securing locations and she wants to find as many as possible.

“It really depends on who will let us put drop boxes there,” said Morrow.

She stressed the boxes will be padlocked and she is working with other county departments to possibly have those ballots brought to the clerk’s office on a regular basis once early voting begins.

There will also be a permanent drop box located in front of the Clerk’s Office, which is located on 10th Street across from the courthouse. Williams said county officials will be making a spot for the box and it will be there for all future elections.

Morrow said she expects there to be a strong turnout for the primary given the fact it has been moved up and could have a major impact nationally on the Democratic presidential primary race.

“I would be surprised if it wasn’t,” said Morrow when asked her thoughts on turnout.

She also said the November 2020 general election should have a big turnout, which is typical during presidential election years.

Turnout in Mariposa County is typically higher, on average, than most counties across the state.

Other election notes

• Morrow said voter registration has been “slow and steady” so far, and the numbers of registered voters are increasing.

She urges residents to register “sooner than later,” which helps avoids any possible issues. If there are problems, early registration can lead to getting any issues resolved.

“If all the information is correct, it will be a smoother voting experience,” said Morrow.

Williams said because the California Department of Motor Vehicles is also involved in the registration process through the “motor voter” law, that, too, is probably helping increase the number of registered voters.

There are various ways to register, including online at www.registertovote.ca.gov.

People can also go to the clerk’s office to register and there are various groups and organizations who assist youth to get registered.

Morrow said election officials have been focusing on getting as much information out as possible and part of that is on the county’s website. Visit mariposacounty.org/elections to find various information about voting in Mariposa County.

• An initial mailing reminding people of the change in the voting process has been sent to county residents.

The postcard is a simple reminder to residents about the changes and it explains the processes by which people can use to vote.

Another mailing is planned for January to once again remind voters of the changes.

• A mailing went out this week for those people who are registered as “no party preference.”

They have two choices when it comes to voting.

The first is to only get a ballot containing the names of candidates for non-partisan offices, candidates for voter-nominated offices and ballot measures.

The second is to request to vote for one party in the primary election.

The Democratic Party, American Independent Party and Libertarian Party all allow voters to cast ballots in the election if they fill out and return the form that was mailed this week.

The Republican Party does not allow any crossover voting.

• The filing deadline for local officials closed this week.

Supervisor Miles Menetrey and Mariposa County Superior Court Judge Michael Fagalde are officially unopposed.

Two new supervisor candidates, Wayne Forsythe and Tom Sweeney, had to wait a bit longer to see if they are going to have any opposition. Since both are running for seats where the incumbent is not running, the deadline is a little longer.

That deadline closed at 5 p.m. Wednesday, which was a day after our press time on Tuesday. If nobody files, Sweeney and Forsythe will also be running unopposed.

• Morrow said officials are working hard, and in many ways, trying to get the word out to the voting public.

Morrow said their website, www.mariposacounty.org/71/County-Clerk, has a lot of information.

In addition, she said the clerk’s office also has a Facebook page and she posts all information on the page.

Anyone who has questions about the election, the new system or other issues can contact Morrow at (209) 966-2007 or email cmorrow@mariposacounty.org.

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