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Election 2020: Everything you need to know about how to vote in Orange County

Hayden Wyndhamsmith, 23 of Tustin, was visiting friends when he decided to drop off his ballot.
Hayden Wyndhamsmith of Tustin drops off his ballot at an official ballot box at the TeWinkle Park Athletic Complex in Costa Mesa on Wednesday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Less than two weeks remain until Election Day.

About 1.7 million active registered Orange County voters — a new milestone for the county — will be casting their ballots on Nov. 3. Data from the Orange County Registrar’s Office on Wednesday said that 1.8 million mail-in ballots have been sent out to voters in addition to those overseas or serving in the military.

About 437,793 mail-in ballots were returned to officials.

Undeterred by a recent ballot box fire in Baldwin County, which Los Angeles County authorities say may have been arson, and ongoing discussions on the safety of unofficial ballot collection boxes installed throughout the state by the California Republican Party, voters in Orange County are placing their ballots in official drop-off boxes as an option to vote in this year’s presidential election.

Edie Tonkon, a voter in Laguna Beach, said she’d be voting through an official ballot box, but said she was “horrified” that a drop-off ballot box in Baldwin
Park was burned.

“I don’t know what they’re planning on doing to get those ballots re-balloted if there’s such a word,” Tonkon said. “I’m definitely using the ballot box. I don’t want to put it in the mail. Just, I don’t want to clog up the mail and take the chance.”

“There’s not a day that I’m not shocked by the lack of people caring about democracy,” Tonkon said, adding that she was planning on using the drop-off box in Laguna Beach at the city’s library.

Cecelia Decrona of Newport Beach, drops off her ballot at an official ballot drop box at Bob Henry Park.
Cecelia Decrona of Newport Beach drops off her ballot at an official ballot drop-off box at Bob Henry Park in Newport Beach on Wednesday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

For Fountain Valley resident Rebekah Hendershot, she said she’s voted in every election she could since 2004, including local and special elections. Hendershot said she’s voting in this election too and would be using an official drop-off box at the city library.

She said she was aware of unofficial ballot boxes placed by the state Republican party and said she went to look for an official location to turn in her ballot on State Secretary Alex Padilla’s website. A Sacramento judge refused Wednesday to order state Republicans to comply with a subpoena seeking information on voters whose ballots were collected and the locations of collection boxes.

The decision is a victory for GOP officials who have insisted their ballot collection campaign is following California election law.

A one-page form signed by Judge David Brown said that there is “no immediate harm or irreparable injury” to the state.

Hendershot said she’s using the official drop box for two reasons, the first being the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the second being concerns about voter suppression.

“I’m avoiding other humans as much as possible for the duration [of the pandemic],” Hendershot said. “Big metal boxes won’t cough on me. I’m planning to vote as soon as I finish my research so my ballot gets into the system as early as possible.”

An official ballot drop box at Bob Henry Park in Newport Beach.
An official ballot drop box at Bob Henry Park in Newport Beach.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

“I assume that efforts to interfere with the vote, lose or destroy ballots, intimidate voters, etc. will get worse as we get closer to Election Day,” she added. “The earlier I vote, the better my chances of flying under the radar."

Huntington Beach resident Jon Madamba said he cast his vote by dropping it off at the ballot box in 5 Points Plaza in Huntington Beach out of concerns of possible delays in the mail and for the convenience of going to an official drop box.

Ken Perlman, also a Huntington Beach voter, said he dropped off his ballot at an official drop-off box on Main Street.

“Voting at the polls is always fun and it’s a tradition, but seeing the lines that people were standing in. With COVID? Let’s try to avoid that,” Perlman said. “And then, with what’s going on with the post office and the strain that they’re put under, ... with all that they’ve got going on, I’ve got a viable third option.”

A sign points to an official ballot box located near the front door of the Mesa Water District.
A sign points to an official ballot box located a little out of view and near the front door of the Mesa Water District in Costa Mesa.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Perlman said he felt the ballot boxes provided the safest and most reassuring option to participate in the election this year.

“Getting the email and text saying that, ‘Hey, we got your ballot. It will be counted.’ We’re two weeks out and I already know that I’ve done the least I can do and that I’m happy to do,” Perlman said.

Election officials said Wednesday that approximately 305,000 ballots have been processed and that 116 ballot boxes have been deployed. All drop-off boxes are constructed with military-grade steel, weigh about 1,000 pounds and are bolted to the concrete, according to officials at the OC Registrar’s Office.

All drop-off boxes also contain fire suppression units to protect ballots and most are monitored by security cameras. Staff are also monitoring ballot boxes daily for suspicious or unusual activity.

Voters without masks who choose to vote in-person will be offered a disposable mask, but are not required to wear one. Vote centers have additional protocols in the event that an individual casting their ballot refuses to wear one, election officials said.

Here’s a list of most of the ballot boxes and vote centers in Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach:

Costa Mesa

Ballot boxes:

  • Coastal Heights Senior Living: 2283 Fairview Road
  • TeWinkle Park Athletic Complex: 980 Arlington Drive
  • Mesa Verde Branch Library: 2969 Mesa Verde Drive E
  • Mesa Water District: 1965 Placentia Ave.
  • OCDE at The Esplanade: 3001 Red Hill Ave.

Vote centers:

  • Costa Mesa City Hall: 77 Fair Drive
  • Coast Community College District: 1370 Adams Ave.
  • Costa Mesa Downtown Recreation Center: 1860 Anaheim Ave.
  • Costa Mesa Senior Center: 695 W 19th St.
  • John Wayne Airport, Administration Office: 3160 Airway Ave.
  • Balearic Community Center: 1975 Balearic Drive
  • Sofia University: 3333 Harbor Blvd.

Fountain Valley

Ballot boxes:

  • Fountain Valley Branch Library: 17635 Los Alamos St.
  • The Center at Founders Village: 17967 Bushard St.

Vote centers:

  • The Center at Founders Village: 17967 Bushard St.
  • Orange County Water District: 18700 Ward St.
  • Freedom Hall at Mile Square Park: 16801 Euclid St.

Huntington Beach

Ballot boxes:

  • Huntington Beach Civic Center: 2000 Main St.
  • HB Professional Plaza: 714 Adams Ave.
  • 5 Points Plaza: 18591 Main St.
  • Main Street Branch Library: 525 Main St.
  • Vista Centre: 17483 Beach Blvd.
  • Bob’s Discount Furniture: 16242 Beach Blvd.

Vote centers:

  • Huntington Beach Civic Center: 2000 Main St.
  • Surf City Church: 2721 Delaware St.
  • City Gym and Pool: 1600 Palm Ave.
  • Michael E. Rodgers Senior Center: 1706 Orange Ave.
  • Main Street Branch Library: 525 Main St.
  • Huntington Beach Central Library: 7111 Talbert Ave.
  • Huntington Beach City School District: 8750 Dorsett Drive
  • Edison Community Center: 21377 Magnolia St.
  • Ocean View District Office: 17200 Pinehurst Ln., Bldg. E
  • Murdy Community Center: 7000 Norma Drive
  • Resurrection Lutheran Church: 9812 Hamilton Ave.

Laguna Beach

Ballot boxes:

  • Laguna Beach Branch Library: 363 Glenneyre St.

Vote centers:

  • Laguna Beach Community Center & Susi Q Center: 380 3rd St.
  • Lang Park: 21540 Wesley Drive

Newport Beach

Ballot boxes:

  • Corner of Avon St & Riverside Ave.
  • Bob Henry Park: 900 Dover Drive
  • OASIS Senior Center Auxiliary Parking Lot: Corner of Fifth Ave. & Marguerite Ave.
  • Newport Beach Public Library: 1000 Avocado Ave.

Vote centers:

  • Marina Park Community Center: 1600 W Balboa Blvd.
  • Coastline College: 1515 Monrovia Ave.
  • Newport Harbor Lutheran Church: 798 Dover Drive
  • OASIS Senior Center: 801 Narcissus Ave.
  • Newport Beach Civic Center: 100 Civic Center Drive
  • Newport Coast Community Center: 6401 San Joaquin Hills Road

Check on ocvote.com/voting/voting-and-dropoff-locations-by-election for the nearest ballot box or vote center and details on operating hours. Most voting centers will open Oct. 30.

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