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An official drop box at the Sonoma Valley public library.
photo credit: Courtesy of the city of Sonoma
Going to your designated polling place every election is now officially a thing of the past.
 
A state law called the Voters Choice Act has permanently changed elections in California. While the coronavirus pandemic prompted more vote by mail. All future elections will involve mail ballots or what are called vote centers.

"We'll have fewer locations, but they'll be open for longer periods of time," said Deva Maria Proto, Sonoma County's top election official. "Voters in Sonoma County can go to any of the vote centers and get their ballot printed out. In the past with polling places, you had to go to your assigned polling place to get your ballot, and so now it's going to be the place that's most convenient to you."
 
Proto, the county's Clerk-Recorder-Assessor-Registrar of Voters said the first election under the new vote center model will be the Windsor town council election in April. Going forward, each Sonoma county voter will get a ballot in the mail, but if they want, they can go to a vote center and get a ballot on the spot. The mail ballot is then canceled. 

"When we print you out one at the voting center, your mail ballot will be automatically for. So you can only have one live ballot issued to you at any one time," Proto said. 

Starting about a week and a half before each election seven vote centers will open up across Sonoma County. The weekend before the election, 31 more vote centers will open. Proto said the new way will be more flexible during fires in evacuations, and is as safe as the old polling place model.

"We still have a lot of security precautions in place, we still do all of our post-election audits, we still do our voter roll maintenance," Proto said. "We're not sending ballots out to everyone, it's only to registered voters who are active in our system, and we look forward to providing more modern election format for everybody in making it more convenient for people to vote, where they want to vote."
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