The Sonoma County elections office on Wednesday finished the final large batch of vote-by-mail ballots that will be mailed to voters by May 7.
So far, workers at the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters have prepared more than 158,000 mail ballots. Last Saturday 60 people, including volunteer and extra paid help, were brought in to kick off the task of getting mail ballots to voters. About 45,000 ballots were readied that day.
"We've been working 12-hour days Monday, Tuesday and today to ensure voters get their ballots on time," said Gloria Colter, assistant registrar of voters.
"We urge them to vote their ballots early and return them before election day so that they're included in the first count on election night."
Mail ballots that are turned in at the polls are included in the final tallies, but they are not counted on election night, she said. The primary election is June 5.
The 158,183 mail ballots will go out to people who are either permanent vote-by-mail voters or have no assigned polling place, Colter said. An additional 5,000 to 7,000 voters are expected to request mail ballots after they receive their sample ballots in the mail within the next week or so, she said.
Anyone who chooses to receive a mail ballot can do so, and mail ballots can be requested until May 29. There are about 152,000 voters in the county who are signed up to permanently vote by mail.
Colter encouraged voters to participate in the primary, even though the candidates in the race for president have been determined.
"There are still key races: offices for Congress, U.S. Senate, State Senate and Assembly," Colter said. "Those are contests that will determine outcomes for budget and taxes that are imposed on people at the local, state and federal level."
Colter said that vote-by-mail ballots are being sent to a mailing firm that is sorting the envelopes by zip code. It's an extra step that gets the county a reduced mailing rate, she said.