Travel

How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts in San Diego This November

What you need to know, including key deadlines, registration details, and how to vote by mail.

Flickr/Kelley Minars
Flickr/Kelley Minars
Flickr/Kelley Minars

Has it really been two years since the 2020 presidential election? The November 8 midterm elections are just a few weeks away, and despite midterms historically having a significantly lower voter turnout than a presidential election, it’s more important than ever to exercise your constitutional right to vote.

There are several important ballot issues at stake, and key positions at the federal, state, and city level to be decided. If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you still have time before November’s election. And it’s never too early to plan where and how you want to vote, learn about what’s on the ballot so that you can make informed choices, or even apply to be a poll worker. Here’s everything you need to know about voting in the 2022 midterm elections in San Diego County:

What are the key races and propositions on the ballot?

The highest profile offices up for grabs are for Governor of California, between incumbent Gavin Newsom (D) and Brian Dahle (R), and U.S. Senator, where you’ll vote for either Alex Padilla (D) or Mark Meuser (R) on two counts; the first being who should finish out the term vacated when then-senator Kamala Harris was elected Vice President, and the second for an additional six-year term as U.S. Senator.

On a local level, the hotly contested office of San Diego County Sheriff comes down to Kelly Anne Martinez (D) and John Hemmerling (R), and in San Diego City Council District 6, two Democrats, Tommy Hough and Kent Lee are vying for a council seat that’s currently held by a Republican.

Critical ballot measures include Proposition 1, which will codify the right to abortion and birth control into law in California. Proposition 26 allows additional gaming like roulette, craps, and sports betting on tribal lands, while Proposition 27 allows online and mobile sports betting outside of tribal lands. Proposition 28 provides additional funding for public school arts and music programs. Proposition 29 will require kidney dialysis clinics to have an on-site medical professional during patient treatment, Proposition 30 is an income tax on those making over $2 million annually to fund programs for reducing air pollution and wildfire prevention, and Proposition 31 will ban the sale of certain flavored tobacco products.

When is the deadline to register to vote in the November 8 election?

The deadline to register is October 24, but if you miss it, you can still vote! Visit any Vote Center in the county or go to the Registrar of Voters office at 5600 Overland Avenue during the 14 days up to and including same-day voting on Election Day.

How do I register to vote?

Register online: California offers online voter registration. You’ll need a California-issued driver license or California identification card number, the last four digits of your Social Security Number, and consent to the use of your Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV)-stored digital signature to use the online voter registration option.

Register by mail: Submit your voter registration application online at RegisterToVote.ca.gov. If you don’t have a California driver license or identification card number, or prefer not to consent to the use of your digital signature, enter your other information and the website will create a pre-filled voter registration application for you to print, sign, and mail. You can also pick up a paper application at your county elections office, any Department of Motor Vehicles field office, and many post offices, public libraries, and government offices, or have an application mailed to you by calling your county elections office or the Secretary of State’s toll-free Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683).

Register in person: Contact your local election office for information on when and where to register to vote in person.

If you’re currently unhoused, unsheltered, or otherwise unable to provide a fixed address, you still have the right to register and vote. Find out more here.

Can I vote by mail?

All registered voters in California will receive a ballot in the mail beginning October 8. You can mail it back any time, as long as it’s postmarked by November 8. It’s postage paid, so you don’t need a stamp to mail it back.

Check on the status of your ballot from the time it’s mailed to you until your vote is counted via Where’s My Ballot? You can also opt to receive automatic email, SMS (text), or voice call notifications.

Can I vote early?

Some Vote Center Locations will accept ballots as early as October 29. Check your center for specific days and times. You can also use a Ballot Drop Box, located throughout the county, where you can drop off your ballot beginning October 10. Days and hours vary by location.

What about military and overseas voters? Can I get an absentee ballot?

You can still vote in the upcoming election if you are a civilian living overseas or in another state temporarily, in the military, or other uniformed service member. Get the FAQs and more info here.

Where is my polling place?

Find your polling place through the Secretary of State website.

What are my accessibility options?

Voting by mail is an excellent choice, but it’s not the only one. See a full range of accessibility services including curbside ballot dropoff, Remote Accessible Vote by Mail (RAVBM), and accessible ballot marking devices for in-person voting online.

How do I volunteer as a poll worker?

Poll workers are the unsung heroes of our elections-they ensure that a diverse voting population is served and handle difficult people and situations with equanimity. You can volunteer to be a poll worker through the San Diego Registrar of Voters website. Requirements include being a registered voter or lawfully admitted permanent resident, completing two consecutive, in-person training days, and up to eleven days of availability during the two weeks before and including election day. You’ll receive an hourly wage depending on your position, typically in the $15-17 range. Bilingual workers are especially needed.

Where can I learn more?

The California Secretary of State website has detailed information and the San Diego Registrar of Voters website provides excellent, San Diego-specific information. CalMatters has a user-friendly, non-partisan guide to what candidates are running on city, state and federal levels and what propositions are on the ballot.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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