Everyone who is registered to vote in Los Angeles County will be receiving a vote-by-mail ballot this election, the first time in the region’s history. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved the proposal back in April because of the coronavirus pandemic.
L.A. County registrar Dean Logan tells Inside the Issues the decision was made so that all of the 5.6 million registered voters in the area could participate in this year’s election while staying safe and secure.
The 5.6 million registered voters in L.A. County will receive a mail-in ballot after Oct. 5.
“The message we really want to send to folks is: this is a safe and secure way to cast your ballot, to get it at home, go through it, mark your choices and then there are a number of different ways for you to turn that ballot in,” Logan said.
Voters can return their ballot in the mail, drop them off at a secure ballot dropbox, or take it to an in-person voting center during the early voting period or on Election Day.
“But, the idea here is that through the use of vote-by-mail ballots, we allow voters to not have to put themselves at risk if they’re concerned about the public health crisis and even if they do go out to a voting location, they don’t have to wait in line and go through a sign-in process, they can actually proceed and put that ballot into a ballot box.”
As concerns mount over whether or not mail-in ballots will be received in time to be counted, Logan said it’s important to vote early.
“From our perspective as the elections office, the message we want to get across is that it's important to vote and that you as a voter get to make the choice of how you do that in a way that you feel is safe and a way that you have confidence that your vote is going to be counted,” he advised. “What I want voters to know in L.A. County is that we've been conducting elections with significant numbers of vote-by-mail voters for decades in Los Angeles County and California, so it is a proven system and it really has been a significant part of our secure system in L.A. County for quite some time.”
He said the County Registrar’s office is confident that the ballots will get to voters and can be returned on time if residents follow the guidelines.
“As long as it's in the mail and postmarked by election day, we can receive that ballot as late as 17 days after the election and it will still be counted and included in the election returns,” Logan said.
“What I would say in this election and in these dynamics, because we’re in uncharted territory here is: I would encourage voters to vote early and I think the vote-by-mail process allows that opportunity. You’ll get that ballot in the mail way in advance of the election,” he said. “Take your time, fill it out, choose how you want to return it but don't put that off. Don't put it off until Election Day.”
Voters will still have the option to cast their ballot in-person and L.A. County voters can go to any location in the area.
“You aren’t limited to a specific location, so you can choose a place close to work, close to where you're going for a medical appointment, or where you're dropping your kids off. That's your choice,” Logan said. “We have put a lot of effort into making sure, in this election, that we have larger spaces, so both for the capacity, because we expect a larger turnout in this election but also to ensure that we can adhere to the public health guidelines for physical distancing.
Election workers will have a health screening before each day and will be provided with personal protective equipment and voting booths will be disinfected between uses. Select voting centers will open Saturday, October 24 and all vote centers will be open on Friday, October 30 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Election day hours will run from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Let Inside the Issues know your thoughts and watch Monday through Friday at 8 and 11 p.m. on Spectrum News 1.