Merced County Times Newspaper
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Ballots Drop! Election Day is less than a month away

This week, registered voters across California — including about 125,000 in Merced County — are receiving their 2022 General Election Vote by Mail Ballots.

If that means you, well then, once you receive your ballot, you can complete it, sign it, date it and return it in person to a drop-off location — or simply mail it with the handy-dandy return envelope that’s included with pre-paid, first-class postage.

It even has a bar code so that you can track online through the “Where’s My Ballot?” system. That’s how you can make sure your ballot was counted.

Or …  You could wait a few weeks.

Don’t feel pressured. Don’t just fill in the blanks without thinking about what they mean. Maybe see for yourself how the rest of the campaigns go. Educate yourself on the issues. Remember, it’s YOUR ballot, and nobody else’s.

If you are undecided on who or what to vote for, don’t miss the Election Special in the Times on Oct. 27. There will be candidate interviews, Times endorsements, and other campaign and election information.

Here’s the deal: Personally delivered ballots must be dropped off by the close of polls, at 8 p.m., on Election Day, Nov 8. Mailed ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 8, and received by your county elections office no later than Nov. 15.

No doubt, there are important local races that will affect the lives of every single resident. We have candidates running for leadership seats at City Halls across the county. In Merced, the way the City Council will approach critical issues such as public safety, homelessness and housing, most likely will be determined by the outcome of three races. There’s also Measure B in Atwater, a special purpose, one-cent sales tax to extend already existing voter-approved funding to provide police and fire services and keep staffing levels up. And let’s not forget about all those school board races after the covid pandemic put a new spotlight on education.

The right to vote

While the government does everything in its power to make the voting process easy, a thoughtful voter can face tough choices on the ballot.

And remember: Those choices — designed to be confidential — require independent action.

Here’s some helpful information from the government.

  • You can verify your voter registration status online at: VoterStatus.sos.ca.gov.
  • You can register to vote online at RegisterToVote.ca.gov, or send in a registration form that is postmarked by
    Oct. 24, or you can “conditionally” register and vote at your county elections office after the 15-day voter registration deadline.
  • Sign up for ballot tracking onlineTh at: WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov.
  • A 24-hour access, drive-up ballot drop box is available in the parking lot of the Merced County Administration Building at 2222 M Street.

Drop-off locations

You can also drop off your Vote by Mail ballot to any drop box at the following locations prior to Election Day and during regular business hours:

  • Merced, 678 W. 18th St.
  • Merced, (Raley’s) 3550 G St.
  • UC Merced, Granite Pass Rm. 174
  • Merced (San Miguel) 1930 Yosemite Parkway
  • Atwater, 750 Bellevue Rd.
  • Gustine, 352 Fifth St.
  • Los Banos, 520 J St.
  • Delhi, 16385 Schendel Ave.
  • Dos Palos, 2174 Blossom St.
  • Livingston, 1416 C St.

Voting Centers

Voting centers around the county will offer Conditional Voting (same-day voter registration services), Ballot Replacement, special needs “accessible” voting machines and language assistance. They will serve everyone, regardless of where in the community you live, and will be open for longer. They will also serve as mail-in ballot drop off points.

There will be 13 Voting Assistance Centers in total. Three in Merced, two in Los Banos and one each in Atwater, Dos Palos, Gustine, Livingston, Delhi, Hilmar, Planada and Winton. Three of these Centers — in Atwater*, Los Banos* and Merced* — will be open for 11 days, starting on Oct. 29, and closing at the end of Election Day. The rest will be open for four days, starting on Nov. 5.

Here are the voting locations that will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on Nov. 8 when they will open at 7 a.m.

  • Merced — Merced College*, Public Safety Complex
  • Merced — Child Support Services, 3368 N. Hwy. 59, suite 1
  • UC Cooperative Extension, 2145 Wardrobe Ave., Merced
  • Atwater* — Community Center, 760 E. Bellevue Rd.
  • Dos Palos — D.E.S. Hall, 1357 Elgin Ave.
  • Gustine — Al Gorman Community Center, 745 Linden Avenue
  • Livingston — Veterans Memorial Building, 1605 7th St.
  • Delhi — Sarah Clegg Conference Room, 9716 Hinton Ave.
  • Hilmar — Grange Hall, 8188 Lander Ave.
  • Planada — Community Center, 9167 Stanford Ave.
  • Winton — Community Hall, Walnut & Center avenues.
  • Los Banos* — Community Center, 645 7th St.
  • Los Banos — Scripps Building, 1815 Scripps Drive.

If you have questions about elections or you need help, you can contact the Registrar at its office at 2222 M Street, by phone at 209-385-7541 or 1-800-561-0619 and by email at [email protected]

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