Preliminary election results are in, but mail-in ballots will continue to trickle in for some days, an provisional ballots need to be cross-referenced, officials may not have a final tally for a couple weeks. However, given that about 32,000 ballots had been received as of Monday evening, that is about 59% of all registered voters*, it is highly likely that the combined count of early votes and Election Day ballots will definitively decide most races in Mendocino County. (Read our note on how many registered voters there are below)
- For more about how to vote today see this link.
- For more about COVID precautions at the polls see here.
- For more on law enforcement actions today see here.
- For interviews and candidate debates see here.
- For opinion, endorsements and letters to the editor see here.
- For the official Mendocino County elections page, see here.
Election Day live blog
(Scroll down for earlier reporting from across the county)
UKIAH, 8:50 p.m. — The initial vote results are in, see our results page for details:
WILLITS, 6:30 p.m. — Shortly after sunset, the parking lot at the Willits Community Center was mostly full, and poll workers reported that the flow of visitors had remained steady throughout the day, with about two hours remaining before the polls close at 8 p.m.
“Everyone has been great,” said Pam Shilling, who was working in the role of inspector, and noted that there had been no issues with voters refusing to wear masks.
Shilling added that the only source of frustration among voters had been apparent ongoing confusion about the how provisional ballots were processed, many of whom had not realized that they would need to bring in their mailed-in ballots and surrender them. She noted she had assisted voters with about 58 or 59 provisional by that point in the evening.
While this reporter turned in her ballot, a steady stream of masked voters of all ages, accompanied by a few voters-to-be, approached the doorway, which had clearly marked arrows to encourage social distancing. Poll workers assisted a number of them with a variety of questions about their ballot, including people who had damaged ballots, and several people who had recently moved.
The poll workers in Willits were a mix of ages and experience; Mike Coughlin, a first time poll worker, said he was surprised at how many people had come into the polling station, adding he believed many wanted the assurance of placing their ballot directly into the collection box. Coughlin said he had been there since 6:15 a.m. to help set up the tables and protective dividers, and was hoping to be home by 9 p.m. after helping put away the folding chairs and other equipment. “If you’ve ever taken down a trade show, it’s nothing,” he joked.
Shilling, who worked as a poll worker for 14 years but “retired” four years ago, said she had volunteered again this election to help out with some of the new processes that had been put in place.
“People like to come in, it’s a social occasion for many people,” she added, “although this year is different.”
(Kate Maxwell reported this segment)
Meanwhile in Humboldt
WILLITS, 6:30 p.m. — A small update from Humboldt County: Lauren Schmitt, news director at KMUD, relayed to us that Humboldt is also potentially seeing a record turn out. Already 47,000 ballots had been received by mail, constituting about 57% of Humboldt’s registered voters. Schmitt conveyed a pleasant shock at how smoothly everything had gone in SoHum. Though Garberville had seen wait times of up to 30 minutes. Also, notable was a large number of provisional ballots and conditional registrations in Garberville, further boosting turn-out.
Some people refuse to wear masks in Ft. Bragg, vote outside
FORT BRAGG, 5:30 p.m. — Late this afternoon, the polling center at the Fort Bragg Veterans Services building was much quieter than city hall was this morning, likely because there was not a ballot drop box there.
Around 4:30 p.m. it started to pick up slightly. Robert,64. and Ariana Van Bueren, 25, father and daughter, respectively, both said they did not trust mail in voting and wanted to vote in person.
Ariana had never voted before, but said she felt like she should cast a ballot this year. She noted that she had been frustrated with how the police force had been treated over the past year and that, “with all the craziness,” she wanted her voice to be heard.
Ariana’s father, Robert, said he always votes. “It felt different from elections in the past, everything is more controversial,” he said. “I felt a disconnect between what I was seeing in person and hearing on the news and I didn’t trust what I was seeing on the news and wanted to make sure I practiced my right to vote.”
Sophie Viera, a pole worker, said that things at the voting center had been mostly steady. She noted that although things had mostly been going well, they had dealt with a few difficult people, including two sets of people who would not wear masks.
“With the pandemic I’ve had some volatile people,” said Viera.
Late this afternoon, two voters gave Viera a hard time about the mask rule. The couple was speaking in raised voices about how they had the right to vote in person. “I fought for this country,” said a tall man with a salt and pepper beard. Viera had them fill out their provisional ballots outside, something the County said is an option for people who did not want to put a mask on.
“I don’t want to let anyone leave my precinct who came to vote not voting,” said Viera, who has been volunteering at the polls since 1998.
(Lana Cohen reported this segment)
Elections officials inundated with ballots, record turn out likely
WILLITS, 3:50 p.m. — In a brief phone conversation Mendocino County Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Katrina Bartolomie reiterated that this election year is shaping up to see record turn-out.
“We have been slammed and I have not been off the floor all day long,” said Bartolomie, who is directly responsible for elections in the county. “It’s busy and I think over all it’s going pretty well.”
Though hard numbers haven’t been tabulated yet, Bartolomie said that anecdotally she was seeing a very good turn out. As of yesterday evening 32,000 ballots had arrived at the elections office, out of a about 53,700 total registered voters. Today about another 1150 ballots had been dropped off at just the drop-box in front of the county offices on Low Gap.
Bartolomie also noted that there have been quite a few “conditional voter registrations” filled out at her office. These are same day voter registrations that can be filled out by people who are not registered as of Election Day.
Speaking about the attitude of voters, Bartolomie said, “We’ve been busy and people for the most part have been pretty patient waiting outside.”
Laytonville and Willits see quick turn around, no incidents
WILLITS, 2:50 p.m — Our freelance photographer, Alexandra Hootnick, tells us though there was no line at the Laytonville polling station, people were coming at a fairly constant and speedy clip. Likewise at the Willits Community Center poll workers said that today had been a fairly relaxed day, and that the longest line the saw was three to five people. At both polling locations there had been some grumbling by people accustomed to voting in person at the polls who are having to fill out provisional ballots when they show up without their mail-in ballots.
As a reminder, all registered California voters received a mail-in ballot. That ballot may be dropped off at a drop-box, or at a polling station. If a registered voter does not bring in their mail-in ballot they will be asked to fill out a provisional ballot. This procedure is to keep people from voting twice, provisional ballots are counted after other ballots, and cross referenced to make sure that that voters is voting only once.
Election runs smoothly at Fort Bragg polling stations
FORT BRAGG, 2:40 p.m. — At the city hall polling station in Fort Bragg, there was no line but there was a steady stream of voters both picking up provisional ballots to vote in person, and dropping their ballots off in the drop-box located at the front of the building.
Inside, poll workers were following COVID protocols. Before beginning work in the building all poll workers had temperature checks, and last week, those workers went to a training session to learn how to sufficiently sanitize voting booths in between each voter. They also had plexiglass screens in front of them. Poll worker Susan Mays said everyone that came in was wearing a mask and that everything had been going well so far.
“No problems, no ruckus, nothing,” Mays said.
Even with the options for mail in voting and and drop off ballots, Jaime Calvino, 36, wanted to vote in person. “I like to come in, see the poll workers, make sure everything goes right,” she said. “It’s also exciting.”
Calvino said she always votes, but that this year’s election felt especially important, citing polarization and the protests that occurred throughout the summer. Calvino grabbed three “I voted” stickers, one for herself and each of her two kids, as she headed out the door. Even though her two kids can’t vote yet, they wanted a piece of the action. Calvino declined to say whom she voted for in the presidential race.
During a 45 minute stretch from 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. sitting on the front steps of Fort Bragg City Hall, 16 people came to drop off ballots at the slot in the front of city hall. Of the people I spoke to, none had specific opinions about any local issues on the ballot this year.
Kristin Redfield, 45, showed up with her young daughter Violet, who was wearing heelies and skating happily down the street. Redfield walked with a purpose towards the ballot box, slid in her envelope and turned around. When I asked Redfield if she always voted, she responded “yes, voting is my right, it’s always important,” and her Violet chimed in enthusiastically, “yeah!”
Redfield felt that it wasn’t only important to vote, but crucial that she bring Violet to show her how easy voting is and instill in her it’s significance.” Redfield did not share who she voted for in the presidential election.
Douglas Weston, 67, said he came out to vote because he wants to see Donald Trump win four more years in office. “He’s done everything he’s said he would and that is rare for a president,” said Weston. Weston also felt strongly about voting against proposition 15 and proposition 19.
(Lana Cohen reported this segment)
Young voters talk about voting for the first time
LITTLE RIVER, 1:20 p.m. — I wanted to know what it was like to have the opportunity to vote for the first time during the middle of the pandemic, and while our country is so starkly divided. So on the eve of election day, I called Savannah Gipson and Jack Kroninger, who both turned 18 just in time to participate in this year’s election. Both Savannah and Jack are from Mendocino County, Savannah, from Ukiah, who is in her first year of college (remotely) and Jack from Mendocino, who is a senior in high school.
For both, to vote or not to vote wasn’t a question. On opposite sides of the county, they had been waiting for this day for years.
“This year I already voted, I got a ballot to vote by mail, but I turned it in in person to make sure it arrived on time,” said Savannah, who voted a week ago. “I was very excited to vote this year because I was 14 at the time of the last election. It was really frustrating to see everything happening and not be able to participate in it, so I was really excited that I could participate this year.”
Still, Savannah was a little nervous about her first time voting. “It was a little intimidating,” she said, noting that the propositions had confusing wording. She said that she did a lot of research to find out who was backing the different propositions and make sure she fully understood everything that was on the ballot.
“I just really wanted to make sure there was no way they could discount my vote,” said Savannah, who was concerned that if she mailed her ballot it might get lost.
For Jack, who pre-registered to vote when he was 16, as soon as it was time to vote, he was ready to go.
“I was actually excited, it was fun,” he said. “So as soon as I got my ballot in the mail weeks ago I ripped it open and started reading everything and researching,” he recounted. “It was invigorating to do that for the first time.”
Important issues in this year’s election for Savannah and Jack included climate change, the state of our democracy, and LGBTQ+ rights. Both voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the presidential election.
(Lana Cohen reported this segment)
Federal judge orders USPS to find missing ballots
WILLITS, 11:30 a.m. — As Comptche peacefully votes, the the national scene remains fractious. Concerns that President Trump had intentionally hurt the efficiency of the United States Postal Service in an effort to suppress the vote resulted in a recent flurry lawsuits. Today a federal judge in Washington D.C. ruled that post offices in key swing states must sweep for ballots that may have been misplaced or lost so that they can be mailed immediately. Here is the story from The Los Angeles Times.
Voting kicks off in Comptche
COMPTCHE, 10/3/2020 10:35 a.m. — It’s finally Election Day. But the day won’t look quite the same as past general elections. Although polling places just opened this morning, American citizens have been casting ballots for over a month. According to CNN reporting from yesterday, November 2, more than 96 million Americans have already voted, and in Mendocino County, 32,000 people, or 59% of registered voters, have already had their ballots received by the Mendocino County Elections Division.
Though this election has fractured the nation in many ways, over at the Comptche polling location, the Chapel of the Redwoods, was as much a social affair and family gathering as it was a place to go vote. Poll watchers included husband and wife duo James Sibbet and Carole Freeman, Jeannie, who didn’t share her last name, and two of her great grandchildren who came out to volunteer. In between voters, they sat in rocking chairs on the porch of the Chapel, holding warm coffee to keep their hands warm on the brisk morning.
Between the poll opening at 9 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., around 10 people came out to vote. The poll workers knew every person except for one by name, asked questions about their family, and engaged in other small talk.
Those volunteering at the voting location were diligently following COVID protocols — wearing masks, wiping down the booths between each location, keeping the door open, and only letting one voter in at a time.
But Jeannie, who is 87 and has been volunteering as a poll worker in Comptche for 20 years, said the COVID restrictions weren’t the only thing that was different at the booths this year. “A lot of rules are different about provisional ballots and how you vote if you forget your ballot or your envelope,” she said. “There are little rules we didn’t have before.”
Still she is glad to have the opportunity to help the voting procedure go correctly this year. Jeannie said that whenever there was confusion they called the Mendocino County office of elections with their questions, and that the office was quick to pick up and provide clear answers to their queries.
Kaitlyn Reed, who was born and raised in Comptche, was one voter to stop by. Although she doesn’t always vote in the general election, she decided to this year, noting that it “just felt important,” she said while walking back to her car, holding her young daughter, Trillium’s, hand. When asked if she thought this election felt different than other years she said, “Generally there is a hopeful vibe in elections because people are excited, but this year, I guess people aren’t that excited about the candidates and seem a little more pessimistic.”
Kati Hayward also stopped at the Chapel to vote. She moved from the Bay Area up here in 2016. “This election seems more important because I think we are on the brink of disaster,” she said. “I’m not happy with any of the choices [for the president] because I believe we need to go in a completely different direction but I believe voting is important so I’m here to respond to that duty.” For the presidential race, Hayward wrote in Bernie Sanders, and mentioned that because of the electoral college, her vote for the presidential race doesn’t matter in California anyway.
Pole worker Carole Freeman also described voting as an important duty. “Voting itself, it’s crucial,” she said. “If we don’t decide for ourselves someone else will decide for us.”
(Lana Cohen reported this segment)
*Notes on voter registration rate in Mendocino County
As of October 19, 2020 there were 53,697 people registered to vote in Mendocino County. In this short section we breakdown what exactly that means.
According to the United State’s Census the population of Mendocino County is estimated at 86,749 as of June 1, 2019. Of that, an estimated 78.9% are over 18 years of age, giving a total adult population of 68,445.
A felony conviction does not prohibit a person from voting in California, however, people on parole are not allowed to vote until they have completed said parole, at which time their voting rights are restored.
The census does not currently ask questions of citizenship or keep a count of citizens — citizenship being a requirement for voting in most U.S. elections (though it historically was not in many states). According to the Census, 13% of the residents of Mendocino County are foreign born, or 12,277 people. Of those an unknown number are children (ineligible to vote anyway) and an unknown number are naturalized adults (now eligible to vote).
In its Report of Registration for October 19, 2020 the California Secretary of State’s office estimated the total number of eligible voters in Mendocino County (citizens over 18-years-of-age, not currently in state or federal prison or on parole for felony crimes) at 63,021 people, or 92% of adults. As of Oct. 19, 2020 there were 53,697 people registered to vote in the County of Mendocino, or 85.2% of eligible voters, and 78.45% of adults.
The following are registration numbers are from the California Secretary of State’s Reporter of Registration for October 19, 2020 for Mendocino County:
Eligible voters: 63,021
Registered Voters: 53,697
Registered Democrats: 26,286
Registered Republicans: 11,242
Registered American Independent Party: 1,945
Registered Green Party: 803
Registered voters not registered as Democrat, Republican, Independent, or Green: 13,421