SACRAMENTO, Calif. - This week, millions of Californians began to receive their vote-by-mail ballots for the November election. For the first time, every register voter in the state, rough 21 million people, will receive a ballot.
Governor Newsom issued the statewide order in May with the intention of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. The order was initially challenged in court by state and national GOP groups.
“The best advice to voters is to make a plan now, on how you will choose to participate this November," said Secretary of State Alex Padilla, California's top election official. "You can do it by mail with multiple options on how to return your ballot, or you can vote in person, and either way do it early.
Padilla says several safeguards are in place to protect vote-by-mail ballots.The process has seen consistent attacks from the White House and claims that it is "rigged." “Creating this universal mail-in-voting, it would create a massive opportunity for voter fraud," said Vice President Mike Pence at the vice presidential debate. "If we have a free and fair election, we’ll have confidence in it.”
Padilla responded. “It’s making my job harder to be honest, to constantly correct the record, voters can count on vote by mail, not just as a convenient option, but as a safe and secure option for casting your ballots.”
Election officials and several research organizations including the Brookings Institution report instances of fraud with vote-by-mail are rare. In the March primary, a record 72% of votes were cast by mail. Still. Padilla says there are plenty of options to vote in person, safetly. “Bring your mask. Expect to see the signage, physical distancing, expect the workers to be outfitted with PPE: face shields and gloves.”
Whether in person or by mail, state election officials are expecting a massive turnout. "Snapshot from 60 days prior to the election, and we were right around 85% of eligible voters who registered and are on the roles, the highest registration rate in decades, climbing each and every day," said Padilla.
As voters watch the presidential race and important local contests on November 3, Padilla reminds people to be patient about official results. “For close races, and for final numbers counties do have within four weeks to finish ballot processing and auditing before certifying the results, that’s not new this year, we’d rather get it right than fast.”
Padilla is encouraging voters to use the new tracking website to follow their ballot's journey, "Where's My Ballot?"