SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. — Things are a little different for this year's election as more people will be voting by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In San Joaquin County, they have more official ballot drop boxes around the county than ever before.
Right off of a busy Highway 12, you’ll find a winery welcoming the entire community inside to make sure every vote is counted.
“It’s a great place to have to drop off your ballot haha!" joked Dan Estrada, a voter dropping off his ballot.
Estrada is celebrating casting his vote early this year with a glass of wine at Van Ruiten Family Winery.
“That’s the bonus of dropping it off here versus just throwing it in the mail," he said.
The winery is one of 27 official drop-off sites across the county.
“It affects our daily lives, so I think it’s really important to vote no matter what side you’re going to be on," said winery manager, Tonya Steiger.
Steiger says they’re happy to help and they hope it might even give them a boost in sales after having to shut down temporarily because of the pandemic.
“We’re telling people, hey drop off your ballot, you can do a tasting flight out on the patio, grab a glass of wine," she said.
But how secure are these boxes?
“The official drop boxes, they are sealed. They have a tamper-evidence seal. There is a specific chain of custody protocol that we use," said Melinda Dubroff, with the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters. "We pick up those ballots at least every other day."
Dubroff says when we get closer to the election, the ballots will be picked up daily, if not multiple times a day.
“When they go into our secured rooms, they’re in there, they’re sealed, they’re safe, and always there will be two people when entering that room," she said.
Dubroff says adding the drop boxes to mom and pop businesses are unique to San Joaquin County and she hopes it will encourage more people to vote early.
“Turn in those ballots early because the more voters who submit their ballots now, the more votes we’ll be able to report on election night," she said.
Keep in mind, the hours of each drop box location are the same hours as the business responsible for it.
You can also vote by mail, as long as it is postmarked by November 3rd, the postage is already paid for.
For a full list of drop of sites in San Joaquin County, click here.
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