Some vote-by-mail voters in Napa County will need to use a more expensive stamp for their ballots, but no matter what’s on the envelope, the ballot will be counted if it’s put in the mail by Oct. 31.
Ballots can also be dropped of at polling places or the elections office on Nov. 6.
Of the 58,000 ballots that went out to voters earlier this month, 14,000 voters have to pay the postage to mail their ballots back, Napa County Registrar of Voters John Tuteur said.
That’s because they vote absentee or live in a precinct with a polling station but prefer to vote by mail. Napa County pays for the postage for the other 44,000 ballots, Tuteur said.
For those that pay for postage, a 65-cent stamp is needed to fully cover the cost, but a regular stamp still gets the ballot delivered to Napa County’s elections office. As of Friday afternoon, a voice-recording reached by calling the elections division incorrectly states the cost will be 45 cents.
Tuteur said the materials weigh 1.1 ounce, and the return envelope instructs voters to use first-class postage in mailing it back.
Of those ballots with only a regular stamp, the postal service bills the county for the difference, but it usually amounts to about 4 to 5 percent of the total number of people who pay for postage, Tuteur said.
“We only get hit for the difference and it’s not a big deal,” Tuteur said. “It’s not a big number.”
The number of vote-by-mails voters has swelled this year, after 19 precincts were converted from a polling place to vote-by-mail following the June 5 primary. Tuteur said the conversion happened because fewer than 250 people used the polling place during that election. The county will pay for the postage on ballots in these precincts.
While in the past Napa County has provided notices to precincts being switched over to vote-by-mail, it opted not to do so this time, Tuteur said. The conversions have increased dramatically in recent years,
dropping the number of polling places in Napa County from 99 to 20, and the notices were warranted then, he said. About 85 percent of the county’s voters are now vote-by-mail.
Voters can also drop off their ballots at the county Elections Division, 900 Coombs St. in Napa, or at polling places and vote-by-mail assistance centers in Napa County.
The assistance centers will be operating from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 3 and Sunday Nov. 4, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday Nov. 5, and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 6. They will be located at:
• the Butler Pavilion Fairgrounds on Oak Street in Calistoga,
• the Stonebridge Apartments’ community room, 990 College Ave., in St. Helena,
• the library reading room, 6516 Washington St., in Yountville,
• the public safety building, 911 Donaldson Way, in American Canyon,
• the elections division in Napa,
• and the Exposition fairgrounds, Fourth and Burnell streets, in Napa.
This post has been modified since its original posting to reflect the proper mail-in deadline for ballots.