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November Election Around The Corner, With Some Tweaks From Prior Years

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This year voters will have more time and more ways to cast their ballots. But, there will be fewer polling sites.

Speaker 1: 00:00 After the strangest election season in living memory voting finally begins this week in San Diego, registered voters can drop their mail in ballots in the mail or deliver them to various dropoff locations as soon as tomorrow. And there are some important changes involved in the voting process this year, especially for people who choose to cast their ballots in person at a polling place. KPBS reporter Shalena, Chet Lonnie is here to explain Angelina welcome. Hey, glad to be here. Now you spoke with San Diego County register of voters, Michael VU about the changes in this year's voting. First of all, is voter registration up in San Diego since 2016. Yeah, it's up about 13%. So the number of registered voters in San Diego County hovers around 1.9 million people, and what's the expected turnout in this election. So from his latest briefing, a registrar of voters, Michael booze is he expected.

Speaker 1: 00:59 Turnout is at about 80%. Now this year because of Corona virus, every registered voter is getting a ballot in the mail. What do voters need to know about those mail in ballots? What VU emphasize is that as soon as voters get them, they can fill them out and return it to the mailbox or whatever pooling site is close by. Um, you know, as soon as they can. And one of the ways that he emphasizes by which voters can return those ballots is through USBs, the us postal service. And he says, it's very safe. Um, it's going to get to the location it needs. Um, and they're going to be falling safety protocols as they normally do I in every election year to make sure that the ballots are opened and verified and processed appropriately, but there are also other ways to return those mail in ballots besides the post office. Yes, there are different ways of returning those ballots and Michael VU kind of explains how that's different from the years prior,

Speaker 2: 01:57 Where we've doubled the total number of drop off locations than we did in March. And the total amount of time that there will be open is four times as long compared to March.

Speaker 1: 02:06 So that's a big change from 2016, even 2018. And this year, the registrar's office was given a much longer stretch of time to actually receive mail in ballots. Tell us about that. Right? So he says that balance can be received up to 17 days after November 3rd election day, as long as it's postmarked by them. And so he says, it's the responsibility of voters to make sure that the ballot counting goes as smoothly as possible. And the way they do that, he says is by getting it back as quickly as they can,

Speaker 2: 02:40 We are only as going to be as good as voters once they receive their ballot to vote it and get it back to us for us to be able to process it all the way through that is verify it, opening it, extracting the ballot out.

Speaker 1: 02:50 So people also have to take responsibility to make sure their ballot is counted as smoothly as possible to let's let's about in-person voting because that of course is still available, but it's different this year. How is it different? So in-person voting will be different for some obvious reasons. For example, if you decide to go to the County registrar's office, of course you will be asked to wear a mask and socially distance. And if you decide that you don't want to wear a mask, you will be directed to a site called curbside voting, um, where you can cast your ballot without a mask. And there will be people who are around who will be handing out PPE personal protective equipment, like gloves and masks. If you don't show up with those items and people sort of dieting voters on what they should be doing. Now, another big difference is that because of these regulations, normally there are over a thousand polling locations, but this time those are being consolidated into large spaces where people can socially distance while they're inside casting their Val ballot. Here's what VU has to say about that.

Speaker 2: 03:59 There will be fewer polling locations than there have been in the past. Um, normally we would conduct this upcoming election with approximately 1600 neighborhood polling places, but because of the pandemic, uh, we are now consolidate those into 235 super poles location.

Speaker 1: 04:18 How do people find out where these super pole locations are? So if you go to the County registrar of voters website online, you'll see a link that, you know, gives you options for how to return your ballot. It'll tell you where you can return it by mail, but it also tell you where you can go to your polling location. So if you click on that link, you can enter your house, number, your street name, and your address and submit it. And it'll tell you where your closest polling location is. And in person voting at these polling places is not restricted to election day on November 3rd, this year, doesn't it begin earlier. It does begin earlier. So it will begin four days before election day on October 31st. And that's to give people the option to socially distance more. So there's not going to be a surge of people all at once on election day. And so that's giving people a little bit more flexibility if they don't feel like they want to return it by mail, they do want to go in person. That's going to open up the time for them to do it safely. Thank you so much for explaining that to us. I've been speaking with KP vis reporter Shalina Chatwani Shalina. Thanks. Thanks for having me for information on the candidates and issues on your ballot. Check out the KPBS voters guide at kpbs.org/election.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.