California expands voting options for historic election. What you need to know

By Mike Luery,
October 4, 2020


With 29 days and counting until the Nov. 3 election, many Californians are getting their ballots in the mail this week. There are some 21 million registered voters in California, and every one of them will be getting a vote-by-mail ballot. 

In this election, how you vote may be just as important as who you vote for. A new study by the non-partisan California Voter Foundation found that on average, nearly 2% of all vote-by-mail ballots in California are rejected and that amounts to tens of thousands of voters.

The CVF has even introduced a song to get people to participate in the voting process. 

California Voter Foundation President and Founder Kim Alexander told KCRA 3 her organization wants to make sure that everyone’s vote counts. 

“In the March 2020 primary, over 102,000 ballots were rejected statewide,” Alexander said. Many of those rejected ballots were from young people. 

“For younger voters, it was primarily because they got their ballot in too late or their signature didn't sufficiently match their voter registration signature,” Alexander said.

“They are new to voting. They are not familiar with using the U.S. Postal Service, and they are not used to making signatures – they are not writing checks,” she added.

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Even if there’s confusion over the signature, voters may still have a chance to cast their ballot.

“Your county is required to contact you by mail and give you an opportunity to submit a new valid signature so your ballot can be counted,” Alexander said. 

Padilla said that voter fraud is rare in California – and that protection starts with the ballots themselves.

“Every election, every county selects specific paper types with watermarks and other distinguishing features to protect against counterfeit ballots being introduced into the process. Those will set off alarms immediately,” Padilla said. 

But in this election year, with voters able to cast their votes by mail, by drop box or in person, how can we be sure that someone doesn’t vote twice?

“Each return envelope has a unique barcode, unique to that voter,” Padilla explained. "It's part of what enables our ballot tracking system and helps us keep records up-to-date in real time to protect against double voting. You cannot vote by mail and try to vote on Election Day or vice versa. One person, one vote,” Padilla said.

And on election night, don’t expect instant results. It may take days, or even weeks, for a winner to emerge in tight races. But here’s one sure-fire way to be confident your vote will be tabulated:

“We really want people to vote early,” Alexander said. “And we'd like voters to use the drop boxes if they can. The sooner you get your ballot in, the sooner it will get counted.”

And remember that vote-by-mail envelopes this year are prepaid – no stamps are needed to make sure your vote is counted. (Full Story)