Los Angeles County voters will be sent vote-by-mail ballots for all elections, starting with the Nov. 3 general election, according to a unanimous vote by the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The decision comes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has upended many aspects of life, including voting.
“Voting is a right that should not come at the cost of being exposed to the virus,” read the approved motion by supervisors Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl.
Despite success in flattening the curve among residents by practicing physical distancing and with an already extended safer-at-home directive set to expire on May 15, county Department of Public Health officials have warned the general public of the consequences of reopening or easing safety measures too soon.
With that in mind, officials have expressed that there is still much uncertainty in the months ahead as the general election approaches.
“It is hard to imagine that, amid the coronavirus crisis, we have a major election coming up this November,” Hahn in a prepared statement. “No one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote. We don’t know what challenges we will be facing in this pandemic this fall, but by sending every voter a mail-in-ballot we can ensure that everyone can cast their ballot safely, no matter what the future holds.”
The motion also instructs that board members send a letter to the county congressional and state legislative delegations urging support for emergency funds for the accelerated implementation of the expanded mail-in model and the recruitment of election workers for in-person voting sites.
The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk will also have to align in-person voting options with safety guidelines for the general election.
The vote comes as local elections scheduled for April, May and June, including the May 12 special election for the 25th Congressional District, will also be conducted by mailing ballots to voters, along with vote centers set up for attendees to practice physical distancing and other safety measures in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.