LOS ANGELES — Questions and concerns are being raised over mail-in voting and polling places that are accessible and safe as the November 3 election approaches. 

What You Need To Know

  • California and other states are expanding the vote-by-mail options for voters

  • The state is working with the postal service to ensure the timely delivery of ballots to voters and ballots back from voters

  • The law in California allows ballots that are postmarked on or before the election an additional three days to arrive at the county's election office

  • For purpose of the November election, the deadline will be extended to 17 days

California's Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, discussed how the state is preparing for the most unprecedented election in our history.

“Thankfully many other states are quickly expanding the vote-by-mail options for voters, and in California, that figure is going to be 100 percent. We will not force voters into having to choose between exercising their right to vote and protecting their health and that of their loved ones,” he said.

Even though President Trump has been casting doubt on the validity of the mail-in voting process, voting by mail is actually very secure and has been proven to be successful for decades in California and other states across the country. 

While the post office is seeing reduced funding, there are ways to expand access to mail-in ballots and ensure that all those ballots will be returned in time. The postal service has been a long-standing partner with election officials at the state and local levels in California to ensure timely delivery of ballots to voters and return of ballots to their respective counties.

“We’re advocating on the federal level to ensure the postal service has the resources that they need to continue uninterrupted and un-impacted,” Padilla added.

However, the state is still going to prepare for potential delays.

The law in California allows ballots that are postmarked on, or before election day, an additional three days to arrive at the county’s election office to still be processed and added to the tallies.

For purpose of the November election, the deadline will be extended to 17 days, but they must still be postmarked on or before election day.

“Step number one is sending every registered voter a ballot in the mail in advance of the election with options on how to return it. No stamps will be necessary. There will also be ballot drop boxes and in some counties having drive-thru drop-off locations. Of course, every voter has the option of walking it into any voting location in their county if that’s their choice,” said Padilla.

California moved its primary election to March 3 —right before the COVID-19 pandemic began to have its impact—and since then, the state had been thinking of ways to prepare for the November election.

The state has a large and diverse electorate and there are many people who need the in-person option. Therefore, the state is working with different counties to make sure they have as many in-person opportunities to vote that are safe both before and on election day.

People are encouraged to vote early in order to avoid large crowds, long lines, and to ensure a safer experience for voters and poll workers.

“California is no stranger to having election results come in a few days if not a few weeks after the election. But, it’s for good reason. We’re meticulous in the processing of vote-by-mail ballots, which are only going to go up. We have to do signature checks; we have to conduct post-election audits. And so, I think for California you won’t see much of a difference. We’ll have a good sense on election night in most contests. But for close races and final results, it’s going to be a few weeks. I think that’s a new dynamic that states in other parts of the country are quickly adapting to,” Padilla added.