Wildfires had displaced nearly 60,000 Californians as of late August, making it more difficult but not impossible to vote in the Sept. 14 recall election.
State figures show the vast majority of evacuees, 53,000 people, were displaced from El Dorado County, where the Caldor Fire marched into the Tahoe basin this week.
The Secretary of State’s Office maintains a fact sheet on how voters displaced from any county can still participate in the recall.
Here Are Options For Displaced El Dorado County Voters
El Dorado County Registrar of Voters Bill O’Neill said his office is making arrangements to deliver ballots to the thousands of voters who have already reached out asking for help.
“We’re getting calls from all over California and Nevada. It doesn’t matter where they are, we can mail them a ballot,” O’Neill said.
Complicating matters, the initial Caldor Fire evacuations took place about the same time the county sent out mail ballots for the election, meaning some residents may not have access to their original ballot.
O’Neill offered these options:
- Pick up a new ballot at the El Dorado County elections office in Placerville, at 2850 Fairlane Court, anytime from 8 a.m. to 5 pm. Your original ballot will be voided.
- Request a new ballot by sending an email with your name, the address of your residence in the county, date of birth, cite the recall election and the address where you are temporarily staying to [email protected]
- Call the county elections office at 530-621-7480. Officials may be able to make arrangements to bring a ballot to you.
- Retrieve your original ballot at the Diamond Springs Post Office at 4946 Pleasant Valley Rd. in Diamond Springs, south of Placerville. If able, you can retrieve your mail and ballot there. You will need an ID to pick up your mail.
- Request a new ballot at the county’s portable, ‘pop up voting centers,’ held at evacuation sites (see a list of evacuation centers here).
O’Neill said county elections officials “came up with a portable vote center that we put in the back of a van. We go to the evacuation sites, both official and unofficial,” from churches to campgrounds to parking lots and fields.
“We void their first ballot and we reissue them a ballot and then they can vote right there and hand it back to us,” he said. “Or they can drop it in the mail.”
O’Neill said he also hopes to establish a pop up voting center in Gardnerville, Nevada next week where thousands of South Lake Tahoe area residents fled this week following evacuation orders.
The registrar added that law enforcement officials continue to monitor several ballot drop boxes in South Lake Tahoe. O’Neill said elections officials were not able to travel to the city to retrieve those before evacuations started, but said the stainless steel boxes should be protected from fire.
Voters Displaced From Other Counties
The Secretary of State’s Office has a fact sheet on how displaced voters statewide, not just those displaced from El Dorado County, can still participate in the recall election.
Displaced voters from other counties are encouraged to contact their county elections office to learn their specific options. The Secretary of State’s Office fact sheet says displaced voters can complete a one-time application to change their mailing address so that a ballot can be sent to the home of a family member or friend or your workplace.
There are also in-person options. Displaced residents can register to vote at their temporary address on election day Sept. 14, a process known as same day registration, or register at early in-person voting locations.
“Even if you have been displaced outside of your home county you may use Same Day Registration to register at your new or temporary address,” the Secretary of State Office advises.
To find the voting site nearest you, visit Vote.ca.gov. All voting locations will be open on election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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