The 2020 primary election is just eight months away. With several area seats up for grabs, the race is expected to begin heating up in the near future. 

Typically, the California primary occurs in June, but in 2020 the election will be March 3. That means local election officials have to start the process a bit earlier than usual, though they don’t foresee any big challenges in doing so.

“I don’t think it really makes a difference locally,” said Terry Hansen, Yuba County clerk-recorder. “It will be difficult in the sense that we are going to be doing filings during the holidays, and we typically have staff that take vacation during the holidays, but we will manage.”

Sutter County Clerk-Recorder Donna Johnston said the state held an early election back in 2008 with a February presidential primary. In a normal year, election offices would begin collecting candidate filings in December, but this go around the process will begin in September.

In addition to the presidential race that will play out throughout 2020, two local state and federal representatives – Assemblyman James Gallagher and Congressman John Garamendi – are up for reelection.

Yuba County voters will have three supervisor races to decide on – Supervisors Gary Bradford, Doug Lofton and Mike Leahy are up for reelection. Other county races include a director position on the Yuba Water Agency board and Yuba County Superior Court judges.

Hansen said there have been some talks about possible bond measures for a couple of different schools within the county, but nothing official as of yet.

Sutter County will have two superior court judge positions up for election next March, as well as three supervisor races – the seats occupied by Supervisors Ron Sullenger, Jim Whiteaker and Mat Conant are up for election.

Johnston said the county is not aware of any local measures at this time.

Both counties will begin accepting signature in-lieu petitions on Sept. 12, which will be the first opportunity for locals to throw their hats in the ring for any of the available positions. Signature in-lieu petitions allow for candidates to collect signatures to satisfy filing fees associated with running for office – the more signatures collected, the cheaper it is.

After that, locals can officially begin declaring their candidacy on Nov. 11, up until Dec. 6. 

Voter information guides will begin going out to residents toward the end of January, followed by Vote by Mail ballots.

Yuba-Sutter voters will also have a new way to mark their ballot this year, as both counties will be incorporating new voting equipment to the process. The new voting machine is like a tablet and serves as a marking device for ballots. Voters will have the option to also use regular paper ballots at the polls, but the marking device will allow the user to make their selections on the tablet before printing out a paper ballot to submit on-site.

“We will be doing outreach with the public on how to vote on the new system as well as creating training tools for voters,” Johnston said.

Both counties will hold trainings to teach residents how to use the new equipment, though dates have yet to be set. 

A number of city council positions throughout the Yuba-Sutter area are also up for reelection in 2020, though those seats will be decided during the presidential election next November.

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