With only 28 days until the General Election, some 21 million Californians are starting to receive the mail-in ballots being sent to every active registered voter this election.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla spoke with Randol White on CapRadio’s Insight about voting and how to prepare for the voting process in this highly contested year. He stressed proper mail-in voting procedures like signing the outside envelope with your matching signature on file, and in counties with early voting, to submit ballots as early as possible.
Padilla also encouraged Californians to vote by mail, if possible, to prevent long lines and crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic. For people who need or prefer to cast their ballot in person, voters can expect larger facilities, poll workers wearing personal protective equipment, physical distancing, and hand sanitizer. And if you have any questions, the state has an election hotline at 1-800-345-VOTE.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
On California's hope to speed up ballot processing this year
You know, every election, people start asking when can we expect results? But why does it take California so long to finish processing the ballots? So we have given counties the ability to start processing, especially the big influx of vote-by-mail ballots, earlier this go around. [There will be] no preliminary results until after the polls close, but hope it can help counties get ahead of the game a little bit, and voters can do their part by returning your ballot early.
Every active registered voter will receive a vote-by-mail ballot. Yesterday [Oct. 5] was the deadline for counties to send those ballots out, so if you haven’t gotten yours yet, keep an eye on that mailbox.
Voters have options for how to return their ballot, [either] by mail or to any ballot drop box in their county between now and Election Day, or dropping it off in person in the in-person voting location either on Election Day or during the early voting period.
On ballots printed with any errors and how to remedy ballot mistakes, such as Los Angeles County sent out some ballots without the option to vote for president
I serve as the Chief Election Officer, but in partnership with counties because it’s ultimately counties that administer the election. They’re the ones that print ballots, distribute ballots, collect ballots, count ballots.
L.A. County pinned down the error pretty quickly. It’s one precinct that’s been impacted, and so by phone, by email, et cetera, they’re reaching out to all the voters, the two-thousand some voters impacted. They have reissued correct ballots [and they] are going out first class mail today.
On election watching and President Donald Trump’s suggestion to watch California voters
I'll go through what state law allows and does not allow. But at the end of the day, I think it's a simple, common sense and civility that's in order. And I’ve framed that because over the last couple of weeks, there’s been from Trump, unfortunately … calls a couple of weeks ago for potential assignment of law enforcement authorities to polling [places] to ensure the integrity of the election. That is not allowed via state law.
[President Trump mentioned] law enforcement officials. He’s calling out for poll watchers with a certain tone and context. We’ve got to recognize that. So here is the law in California. Do we allow for election observation? Of course, folks are allowed to observe activity around the polling place, even in county elections offices as ballots are being processed.We like to be transparent. It’s part of accountability and [the] integrity of elections.
What’s not allowed is any harassment or intimidation of voters. That’s very clear in California law as well. Amongst voters right is the ability to be able to cast your ballot free of any harassment or intimidation.
So it may be a fine line, but it’s an important line to recognize, know [that] we’ve got to respect the sanctity of voting locations. No electioneering in proximity of the polls and certainly no harassment or intimidation of people exercising their right to vote.
On branded clothing representing political messages at polling places
Just as we recognize the right to vote, we do recognize the right to [free] speech. But the law is clear in and around voting locations. There can be no electioneering. And so that’s why you don’t see signs and campaign t-shirts and candidate buttons … during the course of people voting at the voting location.
Slogans are a little looser. So [a] red hat, a t-shirt, Black Lives Matter … those are allowed. But again, taken into context, we have those poll workers and election supervisors that will ensure if it’s just you exercising your right to vote, that’s one thing. If you are also verbalizing, chanting and creating a scene, somehow disrupting the process for others, that is not allowed. So go back to what I said at the beginning — a lot of common sense and civility for our fellow citizens.
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