LWV: “How voters can help make our election work smoothly”

People may think administering elections is easy.

It’s not.  It’s very complicated.  In Tulare County alone, there are 161 different ballot types for the upcoming election, due to variously overlapping congressional districts, state assembly and senatorial districts, city council districts, school board areas, hospital zones, and water districts.  And, yes, the pandemic has added more complexity.

We are lucky that, in California, much is done at the state and county levels to enfranchise all eligibles, and to make voting very secure and convenient.  We voters are given lots of options.

We can reciprocate.  We at the League of Women Voters of Tulare County want you to know that there are things voters can do to help our dedicated fellow citizens at the Election Office get their job—our election—accomplished as efficiently as possible.

Vote early.

Ballots were mailed to all registered voters on September 29, and voting has already started.  Here are your options:

  • Mail it back (do not forget to sign and date the envelope).
  • Drop it at an official drop box (again, sign and date the envelope).
  • Walk it in to the Election Office (across from Mooney Grove; open M-Th 7:30–5:30, F 8–12).
  • Walk-in vote in person at the Election Office (from Oct. 5).
  • Or have a friend or relative return the ballot (envelope sealed by the voter, and signed by both the voter and the person delivering it).

To accommodate this unprecedented election, Tulare County has installed six times as many drop boxes as before.  There are three in Visalia, two each in Porterville and Tulare, and one each in Dinuba, Exeter, Farmersville, Lindsay and Woodlake.  Find these locations listed on page 54-V10 of your sample ballot guide.  This is a great option for people who want to avoid using the Postal System.

Send your ballot in early, and you will be able to see when they actually receive and count it, by signing up for this free service at WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov.

By voting early, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your vote will be among those reported in the news at 8:01 on election night—even before the first precinct reports!

Don’t try to vote twice.

For one thing, this is illegal.  In fact, it’s a federal felony.  All 24 such local cases in 2018 were investigated by state authorities.

Secondly, this gives the Election Office twice the work to do; gums up the workload; and delays certification.  This benefits none of us.

Help reduce the number of provisional ballots.

The counting of provisional ballots is done after all other votes have been counted.  This is to make sure no one is voting twice.  It is the most hands-on, time-consuming phase of the process.  By voting early with the ballot sent to you in the mail, you will eliminate any cause for a provisional ballot.

If you choose to vote in person—and you will be able to do this for four days starting on Halloween (except at the Tule River Tribal Office, Springville Memorial, and Three Rivers Memorial sites)—take your ballot with you to the polls.  This is not required, but it will ensure that you will not need to vote provisionally.

For in-person voting, going to the right polling place cuts down on provisionals, too.   To partially off-set the costs of four days of in-person voting, there will be fewer locations.  So be sure to check the back of your sample ballot guide for yours.

Don’t expect election-night results.

To allay concerns about the Postal System (which the League feels are unfounded), California is allowing 17 days for a ballot post-marked by November 3 to reach the Election Office and be counted.  This is unprecedented.  (As usual, however, ballots postmarked after Election day, regardless of when they arrive, are not valid.)  A consequence of this is that no county will be able to certify elections until November 21 at the earliest.

There may be other delays that are beyond the control of either our county Election Office or the Secretary of State’s office.  But, by voting responsibly and in good faith, each of us can help strengthen our most fundamentally democratic institution.

For more election information, go to VotersEdge.org.

The League is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization, dedicated to encouraging active participation in government, and fostering understanding of public policy.

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