by Naomi Santana
As the presidential election is fast approaching and due to the ongoing pandemic, there are many questions about whether in-person voting will take place or if it will be primarily mail-in voting. Of course, there will be some states that allow in-person voting, but vital information needs to be known about mail-in voting.
First of all, what is mail-in voting? Mail-in voting is when individuals register to cast their vote by mail. According to CNET, the terms mail-in voting and absentee ballots have been used interchangeably, but all states have different terms. CNET also states that absentee voting is when ballots are requested and then mailed, while mail-in voting refers to ballots in the context of policies that allow all individuals to vote by mail.
California will begin to send out ballots to all registered voters beginning on Oct. 5, according to CNN. All mail-in ballots need to be postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and need to arrive by Nov. 20.
According to a Vox article titled “How to vote by mail in 2020” by Cameron Peters, in order to receive a mail-in ballot, individuals must first check if they are registered to vote. If an individual is registered to vote, then they do not need to apply to receive a mail-in ballot for this election, according to sos.ca.gov, the website of California’s Secretary of State, Alex Padilla. This is due to the Executive Order N-64-20, which explains that all individuals in California that are registered to vote will automatically be receiving a mail-in ballot.
Peters also states that if an individual is not sure about how they are going to vote, some counties offer the option to vote early in-person instead of sending a mail-in ballot. There is also an option to drop off an absentee ballot at a secure ballot drop box.
California is one of nine states that will automatically send mail-in ballots to its registered voters. However, not all states allow universal mail-in voting. According to CNN, there are five states — Indiana, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi — which require individuals to have an excuse for not voting in person. Thirty-six states will allow all voters to request a mail-in ballot.
Mail-ballots, according to the secretary of state’s website, can be returned by mailing it to your county elections office, returning it in-person to a polling place, dropping your ballot into one of your county’s drop boxes or by authorizing someone to return the ballot on your behalf. Once a mail-in ballot is received by the county elections official, your signature on the return envelope will be verified with your signature from the registration card.
According to the secretary of state’s website, all mail-in voting is counted regardless of race. Voters can also track the status of their mail-in ballot due to the California Secretary of State enabling “Where’s my Ballot?” This allows voters to know when their ballot has been delivered, when their ballot will arrive, when the ballot has been received by the county and whether a voter’s complete ballot has been accepted or not.
For more information on mail-in voting and to check voter status visit https://www.sos.ca.gov/.