As California elections officials prepare to mail ballots to the state’s registered voters this fall, there is the expectation that some portion of the electorate will still choose to participate in person during the pandemic, requiring a delicate balance between voting rights and public health.
With the multiple changes by state and voting officials from the current health emergency, following is an overview of useful resources and information to facilitate whichever voting option is selected.
To begin, it is important to confirm voter registration status. That can be done here: https://registertovote.ca.gov/
■ Election Day is Tuesday, November 3.
■ The deadline to register to vote is Monday, October 19.
■ The deadline for registering by mail to vote is (postmarked by) Monday, October 19.
■ You can also register to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3. Conditional voter registration is a safety net for voters who miss the deadline to register or update their voter registration information. Voters can use the conditional voter registration process from the day after the deadline, October 20, all the way through Election Day. Eligible citizens can go to their county election office, polling place, or vote center to register and vote conditionally. These ballots will be processed once the county elections office has completed the voter registration verification process.
■ While all registered voters will automatically be mailed a vote-by-mail ballot for the November 3, 2020, General Election, voters can always opt to vote in person. The ballot can be completed and mailed or dropped off at a conveniently located polling place. In-person voters should expect COVID-related safety protocols of social distancing and face coverings. To account for long lines and wait time, it is highly advised that if voting in-person, one should arrive during the window of time allocated for early voting. State officials have encouraged counties to offer four days of in-person voting, from Saturday, October 31, through Election Day.
■ In some counties, the early voting period can start as soon as Monday, October 5, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live. Check here to locate polling locations in your area: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/polling-place/
Vote by Mail
■ California law secures that a ballot will be counted if it’s postmarked on or before Election Day. So long as the United States Postal Service has it by November 3, California law gives the mail service 17 days to get it to your county registrar’s office. With recent challenges being experienced within the U.S. Postal Service, it is highly advised that if voting my mail, drop your ballot in the mail as early as possible. Due to the likelihood that this election will generate a massive increase in workload for the county registrar’s employees, it will be more favorable to spread out the influx on mailed ballots.
■ To help bring ease to voters that their mail-in ballot was delivered and counted. California’s election administrators have rolled out a statewide ballot tracking service. If you wish, this service will notify you by email, text, or phone in one of 10 languages when your ballot is sent out, received, and counted. To register for this notification, go to https://california.ballottrax.net/voter/
The office of the California Secretary of State has populated its website with all pertinent links and easy to find information on all voting and election resources. For greater accuracy, begin by visiting the website to your county registrar’s office at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/county-elections-offices/
Link to California State Budget 2020-2021: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2020-21/pdf/BudgetSummary/FullBudgetSummary.pdf
Gabriela Villanueva is CAP’s Government and External Affairs Specialist. Questions or comments related to this article should be directed to gvillanueva@CAPphysicians.com.