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The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters’ Office mailed the first ballots out to military and overseas voters on Jan. 17, for the March 3 Presidential Primary Election.

Both federal and state laws require ballots for voters who are on active duty in the military or who live abroad to be sent earlier than other mail ballots. Military and overseas ballots are mailed no later than 45 days before an election, while ballots for other voters can only be mailed starting 29 days before an election.

Military and overseas voters are mailed their ballots earlier than local voters to ensure that they have enough time to return their ballots by the deadline, said county elections officials in a statement.

In order to be counted for the March 3 Presidential Primary Election, Vote by Mail ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and must be received by Friday, March 6. Military and overseas voters must sign the ballot’s return envelope themselves so that their signature on the envelope can be compared to their signature on the voter registration form and their identity can be confirmed. Military and overseas ballots may be returned via mail postage-free or by fax.

“Santa Clara County voters who serve and live abroad have the same right to cast a ballot as those of us here at home,” said Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey. “We get their ballots out early so they can get them back to us by the deadline, ensuring their voices are heard even if they are on the other side of the world.”

Feb. 18 last day to register

The last day to register to vote in the March 3 Presidential Primary Election is Feb. 18; register online at Voters wishing to check their registration status may do so on the website as well. Individuals missing the registration deadline can still register as conditional voters within 14 days of the election including on Election Day. Conditional registrations are subject to the Registrar of Voters’ Office determination of voter eligibility. Conditional registration is available at the Registrars’ Office or at any Santa Clara County Vote Center. 

Voters should complete a new registration form if they have moved, changed their name or would like to change their political party preference. To register to vote in Santa Clara County, a voter must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old, a Santa Clara County resident and not have been imprisoned or on parole for a felony.

936,000 registered voters

Elections officials reported there are more than 936,000 registered voters in Santa Clara County. All active registered voters will be receiving a Vote by Mail packet with postage-free return, including an official ballot mailed to each of them on Feb. 3.

Early voting begins at the registrars’ office on that same date. The new Vote Centers open on Feb. 22–a full 10 days before Election Day for any voters who want a “live” ballot. Voters can also get a replacement ballot at the Vote Centers, or return their Vote by Mail ballots to any of those locations or at any of more than 100 drop boxes countywide.

Nearly 300,000 Santa Clara County voters are registered as No Party Preference (NPP), and their primary election ballots do not include candidates for President. Voters may choose to cast a crossover vote in the presidential contest for American Independent, Democratic and Libertarian parties.

The Green, Peace & Freedom and Republican parties opted to not allow crossover voting. NPP voters who wish to cast a ballot in the presidential primary for any of those parties must re-register with that party. Voting a crossover ballot does not change a voter’s registered party affiliation. Voters who cast a crossover vote will continue to be registered as No Party Preference and will have an opportunity to request a crossover ballot in each future presidential primary election. All requests for new ballots to be mailed must be received no later than Feb. 25. For details, call the Registrars’ Office at (408) 299-VOTE (8683) or toll-free at (866) 430-VOTE (8683).

The Registrar of Voters continues to recruit staff for its new Vote Centers that will be open up to 10 days prior to the March 3 Presidential Primary Election. Approximately 2,000 workers will be needed to operate the Vote Centers under the Voter’s Choice Act model,  a new way of voting that emphasizes convenience and greater flexibility for the residents of Santa Clara County. In addition, voters will be using an all-new voting system when they cast their ballots, the first such update to the county’s voting technology since 2003.

For more information, contact the Registrar of Voters’ Office at (408) 299-VOTE (8683) or toll-free at (866) 430-VOTE (8683), or visit

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