Californians are returning mail-in ballots at a record pace, with more than 5 million already returned as of Thursday. To make sure each ballot counts, officials are urging voters to take some key steps.
CapRadio’s PolitiFact California reporter Chris Nichols joins us for this week’s ‘Can You Handle The Truth’ segment to sort through the facts.
On what officials are reminding voters to do
Even though there’s almost two weeks left until Election Day, they’re reminding voters not to wait until the last minute. They’re encouraging them to mail their ballot at least a week early, which would be next Tuesday.
Sacramento County elections spokesperson Janna Haynes gave some advice.
“Go ahead and fill that ballot out, get it in a dropbox or put it in the mail as soon as you possibly can so that we have on our end more time to process the volume of ballots that are coming in,” Haynes said.
On what happens if voters wait until Election Day to mail in their ballots
Voters in California can mail their ballots right up to and including on Election Day, and a lot of people do that. But if you’re going to wait until that last day, Nov. 3, make sure you read the pickup time on the mailbox.
If the mail has already been picked up from that box, your ballot won’t be postmarked on Nov. 3, which is required for it to count.
On what else voters should do to ensure their ballot is counted
The message I’m getting is kind of the same as that Stevie Wonder song, “Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours.”
Officials are really emphasizing the importance of signing the outside of your mail-in ballot envelope. Forgetting to do this or getting that signature wrong has been a big problem in the past.
Back in the March primary, officials rejected more than 100,000 ballots statewide. Around 70% of those showed up late, and the rest were either missing a signature or had a mismatched signature.
On how election staff verifies signatures
Counties use a combination of software and the human eye to check these out. In Sacramento County, if a signature is flagged by a machine, a team of two election staffers look at it and use a collection of that person’s past signatures on government documents to see if it lines up.
Now, you don’t need an identical match, but the signature needs to be fundamentally the same as the one the county has on file. One way to remind yourself of a signature they have on file is just to look at your driver's license.
On what happens if the signature isn’t a correct match
When a county rejects a signature, they are required to contact that voter to give them a chance to correct it, with the idea being that signatures change over time It’s a process that was set in law two years ago by the Every Vote Counts Act.
On what potential voters can do if they missed the online registration deadline
Monday was the last day to register online and still get your mail-in ballot in time for the election, but there still are a lot of in-person options for registering to vote.
You can sign up at your county elections office any day leading up to and including on Election Day.
And starting this weekend, you can go and register at the first vote centers to open in 15 counties around the state. Those include Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles and several other counties.
Finally, you can do what’s called “Same day voter registration” on Election Day at any polling location.
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