You’re probably asking: what’s to plan? All you have to do is show up and vote, right? As you’ve come to learn, nothing is the same during a pandemic.
To begin with, all California registered voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the November 3 election. This is important for several reasons.
First, voting by mail means we don’t have to risk our health by waiting in lines, touching voting equipment that will be used by thousands, or worry whether everyone will remember their masks or not.
Second, voting by mail has different requirements you will need to know to make sure your vote is properly counted.
Third, the federal government has revised post office operations, making it unclear how quickly or slowly mail – including our ballots – will be delivered.
Fourth, even though you will get a ballot in the mail, you can still vote old school at your polling place or at City Hall. However, it helps to consider your options.
Finally, even though California is luckier than most states with regard to voter suppression tactics, we need to be prepared…We suggest a voting plan. ¡Pa’delante! offers the following information, tips, and consejos (advice) to prepare your voting plan:
Choose how you prefer to vote. Will you choose to complete your vote-by-mail ballot? Will you choose to vote early at City Hall, or will you choose to vote on Election Day at your local polling place?
¡Pa’delante’s consejo: Decide to vote-by-mail ONLY IF you make the commitment to complete it within a few days of receiving it. The benefits of submitting a vote-by-mail ballot are that you will stay safe. Plus, if you get it done and sent out within a few days of receiving it, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you've done your part with time to spare.
We encourage you to send it within a few days of receiving it because a vote-by-mail ballot requires several considerations (that we'll cover in next week's blog). It isn't something you can do quickly; if you do a rush job on a vote-by-mail ballot, you run the risk of getting it disqualified.
If, for whatever reason, vote-by-mail really early isn’t possible or isn't your preference, make early voting your second choice. From October 5-November 2, 8am-5pm, you can vote early at City Hall (1 Carlton B. Goodlett Place). Please note: this applies specifically to San Francisco voters. This gives you almost a full month to vote and ensure your vote is counted!
If you choose to vote on Election Day, we offer you one tip to protect your safety: minimize the time you spend at your polling place by completing your sample ballot first and bring it with you to your polling place to help you complete your actual ballot quickly and accurately.
Choose how to return your ballot. If you decide to vote by mail, there are several things to consider. In our next blog post, we’ll talk about how to complete your vote-by-mail ballot so that it doesn’t get disqualified. Once your ballot is completed, you can mail your ballot as soon as you complete it, or you can turn it in to your polling place (or any other San Francisco polling place) on November 3. The important issue is to return your ballot on time.
¡Pa’delante’s consejo: Mail in your ballot early so there is no question about whether it will arrive on time. Even though all ballots postmarked by November 3 will be accepted, possible delays at the post office could result in invalidating your ballot.
Track your ballot. California now uses a new tool that allows voters to track your ballot. You will be able to determine if your ballot has been received and counted.
Go to: https://california.ballottrax.net/voter/. You can register for this service by registering. Registration means adding your name, birthdate, and zip code. You will then get to choose how you want to be informed about your ballot: by email (in which case you will need to add your email address), text (in which case you will need to add your phone number), or voicemail (in which case you will add your phone number) as well as your preferred times for notification, and your preferred language. If you select to be notified via text, you will receive a welcome message asking you to confirm your ballot tracking request.
Pa’delante consejo: We know that voting by mail is less exciting and fulfilling as compared to voting in person. However, by tracking your ballot, you make sure someone has seen and documented that your ballot arrived on time. It’s a good tool that will give you peace of mind that your vote will be counted!
¡Pa’delante’s recommended plan:
Choose to vote-by-mail or vote early (before November 3)
Choose to return your ballot early
Choose to track your ballot
Stay tuned for the next blog post: How to Complete a Vote-by-Mail Ballot!