Photography by Katharine Wilson
Photography by Katharine Wilson

The voting process for 2020

October 30, 2020

With the long-lasting pandemic the upcoming Nov. 3 presidential election will undoubtedly be effected. Record numbers of individuals have already voted by mail or are planning to use other methods of staying safe while voting. 

Every Californian registered to vote received an automatic vote-by-mail ballot by Oct. 14. In most states, voters are required to specifically request a mail-in ballot. California had the same requirement until this year but sent ballots to each registered voter because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ballot needs to be mailed by election day and received by the county elections office by Nov. 20. To track the mailed-in ballot go to this site, a tracker provided by the California secretary of state. Another way for voters to turn in vote-by-mail ballots is to drop them off at an official drop box, in person at a polling location, or directly to the local registrar of voters. The location of the registrar of voters for individuals is located on their ballot and is where ballots are sent from polling places.  

This year has seen a multitude of possible disturbances to the mail-in voting system which is why many Californians have decided to drop their ballot off at their registrar of voters. Recently the California Republican Party has admitted to planting fake ballot drop off boxes and earlier this year there was uproar about a proposed partial defunding of the postal service during an election year.

The standard way of in-person voting is still implemented this year. Each voter is assigned a polling location to go to and will go through the normal procedures of a paper or electronic ballot. To find the polling location go to this site. Polling stations can be in a variety of locations such as community centers, houses, retirement homes. This year there will be fewer polling stations due to COVID-19 restrictions and fewer poll workers. Polls in California open at seven o’clock in the morning and close at eight o’clock at night. Past eight o’clock voters can still vote if they were already in line at a polling station when the polls closed.

There are some rules everyone must follow inside of a polling location. These include no campaigning inside (which includes merchandising on shirts, buttons, and more). Face masks this year are not required inside polling locations but they are strongly encouraged. Counties must provide disposable masks at the door but a voter cannot be turned away for not having one. 

Currently even if voters did not register by the official deadline there still is a method to vote. California is offering same-day voter registration for the first time this year. In order to do so, you need to go to the county election’s office, local polling place, or vote center and ask for a ballot and a voter registration form. After voters do this and their registrations are approved their ballot will be counted. 

Riverside voters have a lot of important decisions to make this election including state and nation wide decisions such as the president and propositions. But they also have key local elections including the next mayor, school board members (wards two, four, and six), and local measures.

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