LocationAlhambra , CA
The November election is just around the corner.
Even with the weight of a presidential contest amid a pandemic and a recession, this particular November will be consequential to Alhambra’s local politics with challengers to every incumbent on the City Council and School Board up for reelection and possible changes from at-large to by-district voting.
Voting has become even more complicated since March when L.A. County switched to a digital voting system.
Now, every registered voter is being mailed a vote-by-mail ballot – also known as an absentee ballot – due to the pandemic and the desire to keep as many people as possible in their homes on Election Day, Nov. 3.
If you choose to use the ballot mailed to you, you have three options to return it: mail through the postal service, turn-in in-person at a voting center or drop at ballot drop box – a secure, county-operated ballot collection station, similar in look to a mailbox or donation container.
If you choose not to use the vote-by-mail ballot, you can cast your vote in person over a range of dates with one of two methods: pre-selecting your votes online in a sample ballot you take with you to scan at the booth or vote in the traditional manner of going through each selection one at a time.
Here are the three ways Los Angeles County is accepting ballots in the fall election:
Vote-by-mail ballots are mailed to registered voters from the end of September through the first week of October. The first day for returning ballots by mail is Oct. 5 – 29 days prior to Election Day.
Postage is paid through the U.S. Postal Service. With the widespread delays and publicity surrounding USPS delivery and processing issues, the county will continue to accept ballots for 17 days past Election Day, until Nov. 20, as long as they are mailed prior to or on Nov. 3.
You must sign the back of the ballot envelope. It will not be processed unless you sign and rewrite the mailing address as directed on the envelope.
If you are uncomfortable mailing your ballot, you have the option to turn it in to a vote center in-person or drop it in a ballot drop box location. These drop-off locations will be posted closer to Nov. 3. The envelope must be signed, just as if you were mailing it.
In-person vote centers
Voting centers – which will replace the old neighborhood polling places – will also be posted closer to Nov. 3. Voting centers will be open for either five or 10 consecutive days prior to Election Day; some open Oct. 24 and all voting locations open Oct. 30.
Again, vote-by-mail ballots may be dropped off in their signed envelopes at these centers leading up to and on Election Day.
Facial coverings and gloves are required – they will be provided if needed – to use the digital devices to mark ballots. Everyone will be required to observe physical distancing of six feet. Election workers will wipe and sanitize surfaces after each voter.
To expedite the processing at the in-person voting centers, surrender your vote-by-mail ballot when you enter, otherwise your ballot is provisional until confirmed you did not vote by mail.
In March, the county switched to an all-digital interface and real-time voter roll system – which crashed many times throughout the day causing extremely long waits at some locations.
If you choose to go through each selection, voting will be the same item-by-item voting.
Voters may also use the county’s interactive sample ballot to mark voting selections prior to leaving home. The sample ballot, found on the county’s website, will then generate a personalized code that you can print or download to bring with you. Scan the code at your voting booth, review your selections and submit your ballot. Filling out the interactive sample ballot online is not casting a vote. It is a tool to expedite your selection process at the voting booth.
See Alhambra Source’s March article on the Ballot Marking Devices for in-person voting.
If you need to register to vote or will be 18 years of age on or before Nov. 3, go to L.A. County’s Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s site and fill out an online voter registration form. If you need to change your registered voter address, political party affiliation or name, fill out the online voter registration for new voters and follow the prompts.
If you changed your address through the California Department of Motor Vehicles, check your registration status. After selecting the option to update your voter registration you must fill out additional forms – it is not an automatic update.
For multilingual services, including ways to request non-English voting materials, visit LAVote.net’s Multilingual Services Program and scroll down to the language needed. You can call 800-815-2666 (select option 3) or 800-481-8683 to request assistance.
For most, identification is not needed at vote centers.
However, if you are a first-time voter and did not provide your driver license or California ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number on your registration form, you may be asked to show some form of identification with mailing address. See the full list of qualifying documents.