With the November 3rd election just weeks away, now seems like the right time to talk about some basic voting information you may need in the next few weeks to make sure your vote gets counted in 2020.
First and foremost – Confirm that you’re registered to vote on the Secretary of State’s website (https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/). If you aren’t, or if you have moved, you can register up until October 19th, so there’s still a few days.
Then, take just a little time to do a little research on the candidates and measures (state and local) that are on your ballot before you vote. Democracy doesn’t work if the voters guess – we have the responsibility to be informed and make careful choices. Just 15 minutes to pull up a voter guide or two can really clarify the issues on the table. (On that note, a brief plug: CalChamber’ s voter guide for California’s statewide initiatives is available here: (https://advocacy.calchamber.com/elections/ballot-measures/). Also, talk to your friends and family – they may understand one or two issues that were tough for you. Though the media tends to focus on national issues, your vote on state and local issues is often where you can make the most difference in your daily life. This year, California has 13 statewide ballot propositions that touch on huge issues affecting Californians, including voting rights, consumer privacy, and the gig economy – not to mention multiple significant changes to your taxes – so it is certainly worth doing a little research.
If you don’t understand an issue, or don’t feel qualified to choose after researching, remember that you don’t need to vote on every issue. Vote on the ones you feel you understand and have an opinion on.
After you’ve done your research, the question is: how should I submit my ballot? Many of us (myself included) are looking to mail-in voting as a safer alternative to avoid potentially picking up COVID-19 and bringing it home. Thankfully, mail-in ballots are widely used in California and carry precautions to protect their integrity, including a unique, track-able barcode (much like Amazon package tracking, which you may already be familiar with). Ideally, you want to mail your ballot in at least a week before election day (so by Oct 27th) according to the Post Office. After you’ve submitted your ballot, you can check if it was counted at the Secretary of State’s website (https://california.ballottrax.net/voter/).
For those of you still intending to vote in person – which most counties will allow even if you have received a vote-by-mail ballot – you can go to any polling station in the county. When you arrive on November 3rd, you will be checked in electronically to confirm that you haven’t already voted by mail, then you’ll be given a live ballot. Keep in mind that some polling places may move more slowly than in prior years, due to social distancing requirements – so allocate enough time to get there and wait a bit, just in case.
CalChamber urges you to do some research and make your voice heard. Be a part of democracy and help shape California’s future. And if you’re one of those social-media-inclined Californians, photos of your ballot (“ballot selfies”) are legal in California thanks to a bill (AB 1494, 2016) from Marc Levine, so show off your participation to your friends!