Ventura resident Ron Safftrom was stumped when his wife, Roxann, called him Election Day morning and told him she had to turn in a provisional ballot. The Safftroms, registered Democrats, have been voting in Ventura for the last 26 years via regular ballot, but this year they were told they had to cast provisional ballots.
“She just called me after trying to vote,” Ron said. “She said, ‘They gave me a hard time and handed me a provisional ballot.’ ”
The problem started when Roxann answered the door a few months ago. Ron said his wife, who had been bombarded by a number of solicitors, met a campaigner who asked her if she, her husband and her daughter wanted to do mail-in ballots. Roxann thought it would be a good idea and filled out the paperwork.
After having given it a second thought come Election Day, the Safftroms decided they wanted to vote at the polling booths. When she showed up to the polls, she was handed a provisional ballot when she didn’t have her absentee ballot.
“I figured they were just trying to encourage any possible way to vote this election. I figured I had a choice. Nobody educates you that you have to vote absentee or use a provisional ballot.”
But upon arriving at the polling place, she realized she didn’t have a choice. The concern is that people would vote twice, once with the absentee ballot and then again at the polls. The problem is that neither the person who registered the mail-in voters nor the voters themselves realized that they wouldn’t get to vote on Election Day without the absentee ballot.
After Roxann said she was pretty upset about the whole situation.
“I want my vote to count now,” she said. “I feel like there should be more education at the voting polls.”
After placing a call to the California Democratic Party, an operator said that every vote would be counted, including the provisional ballots. Provisional ballots would take longer to be counted because the voter’s address would have to be verified via mail, which could take up to a week.
“Rest assured, every vote will be counted,” she said.
Ron had heard on talk radio to avoid provisional ballots at all costs for fear they might not get counted. Heeding the warnings, Ron asked the volunteers what his options were so that he wouldn’t have to turn in a provisional ballot. One of the volunteers told him to vote at the Ventura County Government Center.
He high-tailed it out of there and headed to the center to be greeted with no lines and a normal ballot that would be counted later that evening.
While some voters might have misunderstood what it means to be a mail-in voter, meaning absentee ballot ONLY to be counted by Election Day, the California Democratic Party urged all voters who turned in a provisional ballot to call the local registrar and check to see if their vote was counted.
The Ventura County Registrar’s number is 654-2781. Give them your name and they will be able to tell you if your vote was counted. The California Democratic Party said it could take up to a week to verify anyone’s vote.
For more information, please call the California Democratic Party at (877) 321-8683. Also, call the County of Ventura Elections Division at 654-2781.