As voters head to the polls for the general election, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla shared what registered voters can expect Tuesday and beyond amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a vote-by-mail season.
More than 6.5 million ballots already had been returned as of Thursday, according to the state, as voters start to form lines at several polling places across California, including at 20 locations in the Santa Clarita Valley.
This year, however, is different as the state has urged voters to vote by mail, if possible, to help prevent long lines at polling places and decrease the risk of spreading the virus. Still, officials have reiterated that additional safety measures have been implemented, such as setting up at larger buildings, doubling down on sanitizing and physical distancing, for those who want to cast their ballots in person.
“To prepare our election for the COVID-19 pandemic we have taken several steps to protect voters,” he said in a statement. “Every active, registered voter was mailed a ballot. We also extended the time for vote-by-mail ballots to arrive to county elections office. Ballots postmarked on or before Election Day can arrive up until Nov. 20 and still be processed and counted.”
Time off to vote
Workers are allowed up to two hours off, without loss of pay, to vote if they do not have enough time to do so during non-work hours, according to California Elections Code section 14000. Employers must also visibly post a notice informing employees of their voting rights at least 10 days before an election.
No results expected on Election Night
In California, county election officials have 30 days to count every valid ballot and those postmarked on or before Election Day can arrive up until Nov. 20 and continue to be processed.
“On Election Night, we will have a good picture of most contests, but the outcomes of close contests may take days or weeks to settle,” said Padilla.
Vote-by-mail ballots counted
Vote-by-mail ballots received by county election officials before Election Day are counted on Nov. 3 and can take up to 30 days for officials to verify voter records and determine voter eligibility.
“The frequency of updated results will vary based on the size of each county and the process each local elections office uses to tally and report votes,” said Padilla.
All provisional ballots are typically counted after election day ballots and vote-by-mail ballots, he added.
Where to vote in SCV
A total of 20 locations are now open across the SCV, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. For a complete list of hours and addresses, visit locator.lavote.net.
For any questions regarding the election, California has an election hotline at 1-800-345-VOTE.