With Nov. 3 quickly approaching, officials are scrambling to face the many challenges for the upcoming 2020 election—a global pandemic, a surge of wildfires across the state and a turbulent political environment.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla addressed these issues—including voter access and safety issues—during a special virtual video news briefing hosted by Ethnic Media Services on Friday September 11. 

“We make sure elections are accessible and secure, given the COVID-19 pandemic we also need to make sure the voting experience is safe and protects the health of voters and election workers,” said Padilla, who also serves as California’s Chief Elections Officer and works in partnership with all 58 counties in California to administer safe and secure elections. “One of the things I would like us all to start thinking of is November 3rd as the last day to vote.” 

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Vote-by-mail ballots will be sent to every registered voter beginning the first week of October, with the final day to register online being Oct. 19, 2020. Registered voters can sign up to receive vote-by-mail ballot tracking notifications by text message, email, or voice call. After Oct. 19, voters can take advantage of ‘Same Day Voter Registration’ at designated polling locations on election day. Ballots postmarked by Election Day and received within 17 days of Election Day will be counted.

“California doesn’t just have the largest and most diverse population, we have the largest and the most diverse electorate with voters of all types of backgrounds, language preferences and cultural experiences,” Padilla said. “It is our job to ensure that every U.S. Citizen, 18 years or older and registered to vote, gets a chance to vote.” 

Under the law, once an immigrant formally naturalizes, they are immediately eligible to register and to vote right up to the day of the election. Voting materials are available in multiple languages, assistance for voters with special needs is guaranteed and help for seniors, immigrants and first-time voters will be available.

“California officially surpassed 21 million active registered voters for the first time in history,” says Padilla.  

Extra sanitation methods and social distancing measures will be in place at all voting locations. Partnerships with larger venues better equipped to handle social distancing include Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, the Chase Center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, and the Oakland Coliseum. 

The Golden State Warriors announced the team’s Oakland facility and the home of the Santa Cruz Warriors, Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, will serve as polling sites and ballot drop-off locations on Election Day, November 3, 2020. The outdoor area surrounding Chase Center, will serve as a ballot drop-off location for San Francisco County voters from October 31 through November 3. 

The Secretary of State’s Office distributed guidance to counties to prepare themselves with PPE and adjust to public health guidelines. Voter guidelines include wearing a face covering while at the voting location; keeping two arms’ length distance from other people; washing hands before and after entering the voting location; and using hand sanitizer after touching doors or voting equipment. It is advised that voters bring a ballpoint pen to avoid touching high-contact surfaces. 

Voters are urged to verify their registration as early as possible and check that their ballot is going to the correct address. The more voters who can vote-by-mail or use drop off locations and vote early, will help ensure safer physical distancing at voting locations.

Californians with questions or concerns about our elections should contact: VoteSure@sos.ca.gov 

To register to vote or verify registration please visit: VoterStatus.sos.ca.gov

To track your mail in ballot, please visit: WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov and sign up for “Where’s My Ballot?” 

California launched the first statewide Poll Worker portal in anticipation of a shortage because of COVID-19. To learn how you can be a poll worker, please visit: PollWorker.sos.ca.gov