LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, California voters will have more options than ever when it comes to when they vote, how they vote and where they vote this November.
"We wanted to let voters know that they have power over their vote," Marilú Guevera, the executive director of the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, said.
While voting by mail is nothing new, this election marks the first time voters in California — along with voters in eight other states — will automatically receive their ballots in the mail this year. In total, more than 51 million voters will automatically receive their ballots in the mail this year, the most in history.
Once voters get their ballot, all they have to do is fill it out, sign it and send it back through the U.S. Postal Service — no stamp necessary.
"Imagine the joy you'll feel when you receive the ultimate confirmation that your ballot was received and counted," California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said.
Ever since May when Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered that every registered voter in California automatically receive a ballot for the November election, Padilla has been highlighting the safety and convenience offered by vote-by-mail.
Each ballot is watermarked and printed on paper specific to each election, voters must sign ballot envelopes and those signatures are verified upon receipt and, this year, there is a new ballot tracking service that allows voters to get updates on where their ballot is and when it has been counted.
In fact, Padilla said, more and more Californians have been embracing vote-by-mail every year.
"We've gone from maybe 25% of the ballots cast about two decades ago to more than 70% in our March primary earlier this year," he said.
California ballots will only be sent to registered, active voters and information about the process has already gone out, Padilla said.
But Sonja Diaz, of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, said she is worried that the message might not be reaching Southern California's fastest-growing populations — Asian Americans and Latinos — many of whom are first-time voters or who mostly vote during presidential elections.
"They aren't going to be the recipients of all the mailers and information that likely voters get," she said. "And that means there needs to be additional outreach that is culturally and linguistically competent."
And to combat any post office delays, the state has extended the deadline for ballots to get to the state. As long as voters postmark their ballot by Election Day and it arrives at the registrar's office within 17 days after the election, it will be counted.
"We're very fortunate to live in California," Guevara said. "California wants you to vote."
Eligible voters can register to vote and check their voter registration on the California Secretary of State's website.
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