The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 19 and Nov. 3 is the deadline to vote in what may be the election of your lifetime.
With a contentious President who is already proclaiming voter fraud if he doesn’t win a second term, a full blown pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives, civic unrest, climate change with temperatures rising and devastating fires, and children separated from their families locked in for profit detention centers, this election is crucial.
“Democracy is stronger when all people participate,” said Padilla, who has urged residents to take advantage of the voting options that are available that include voting by mail, voting curbside or voting in person at a polling site.
“There are several reasons why some people may need to vote in person,” he pointed out. “They could need accessibility, need to receive language assistance, or to replace a ballot that was lost, or if you made a mistake [on your ballot].”
He said his office is working closely with all 58 counties in the state to insure a safe and secure election.
“While people think of Nov. 3rd as Election Day, think of it as the last day to vote,” said Padilla as he cited the options.
Despite concerns with the US Postal Service, Padilla still encourages using the Vote-by-Mail process, calling it the “safest method.”
“There are safeguards in place for the vote-by-mail process,” Padilla stressed.
During a news briefing with Ethnic Media Services, he encouraged the use of the tracking service “Where’s My Ballot” that enables voters to receive information on the status of their ballot. Voters who use ballot tracking can receive notices via text, email or a voice call notification. This free service can be used to insure that your vote-by-mail ballot has been properly received and has been tallied.
He cited the increased popularity of voting by mail with 70 percent of voters utilizing this process in the primary election, but acknowledged this was prior to the pandemic. Padilla would like to spur the additional 30 percent of voters to vote-by-mail, which would enable them to vote early. California currently has 21 million registered voters.
The normal deadline to register is usually 15 days before the election. This year it would be Oct. 19. But Padilla said voters who miss the Oct. 19 deadline can still register to vote on the day of election in person at a polling place.
Padilla pointed out that because of the pandemic, polling places in some communities have changed from neighborhood garages and living rooms to larger areas like Dodger Stadium where people can easily keep social distance. Those who still plan to vote in person should confirm their polling location before November 3.
“We are encouraging voters to trust the voting voices in your community for reliable information and turn to the secretary of state’s office,” he said.
“You can’t vote unless you register to begin with, and we have many options to vote safely.”
The Secretary also eased the concerns for the possibility for tampering by illuminating the lengths that have been taken to safeguard the process. Ballots are printed on paper with watermarks and printed by certified printers in the USA and use official return envelopes with barcodes that can be traced.
If you vote by mail, the voter’s signature is also required to be on the outside of the envelope, he said
“Voters have to use the same official envelope that has been sent to them… you can’t show up in person and also vote by mail, the second vote will not be counted,” Padilla said.
He said there are checks and balances in place. “The first thing that is done is that signatures will be compared.”
For those who vote-by-mail, return postage is prepaid and voters also have the option to use any ballot drop box or return their ballot to any voting location.
“We want to make sure that elections are accessible and secure and given the COVID 19 pandemic, we need to make sure that the voting experience is safe and protects the health of voters and election workers,” Padilla said.
While President Trump has made an outrageous suggestion to voters to show up to polling sites even if they have already voted to reportedly check to see if their first ballot was counted, Padilla said anyone who has already voted would be turned away at the polling site and wouldn’t be allowed to vote —
safeguards have been put in place to prevent “double voting.”
“To say this is unprecedented in the election climate we are in and the pandemic is an understatement” said Padilla.
For more information on voting and tracking your mail-in ballot you can sign up at WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov or visit the Secretary’s website at sos.ca.gov. Padilla said people can also register to vote at: registertovote.ca.gov. Anyone with questions, comments or complaints about illegal electioneering of possible harassment at the polls is urged to call the SOS hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (800-345-8683), or their local county registrar.