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Voting In 2020: An inewsource Guide To All The Changes

Speaker 1: 00:00 It normally takes years to make significant changes to voting procedures in San Diego County, but like so much else these days, the COVID-19 pandemic acts as an accelerant. A lot of changes to voting rules have quickly been made for the November 3rd general election here. And I knew source investigative reporter, Mary Plummer is here to explain what's new and what's behind it all. Hi Mary. Hi Mark. Well, I knew source published a voter's guide today. And in that guide, you described quote, massive changes. Voters will see as they vote by mail or head to polling places throughout San Diego County and start with those mail in ballots. Everybody's getting one, right? And the vast majority are going to vote by mail here. Speaker 2: 00:39 That's correct. Um, really a lot of changes coming up for voters. This election, um, traditionally in San Diego County, roughly three quarters of all voters cast their ballots, uh, via the mail. But this year, uh, due to the pandemic a lot is changing. And one of the changes is that all registered voters will now automatically receive a vote by mail ballots without having to specifically request them. Um, if you're already, what's called a, um, permanent vote by mail voter, this will feel pretty similar to business as usual. You'll still get your ballot, but for those who aren't, um, don't be surprised when a ballot shows up in your mailbox. Um, all of those ballots start going out next week. Speaker 1: 01:20 Now give us the nuts and bolts of voting by mail. What key rules does everyone need to be aware of? Speaker 2: 01:26 Uh, so you should fill out your ballot using a dark pen, ideally, a pen with blue or black ink, uh, avoid pencils. Um, if you need help voting, there are a lot of resources for those who need assistance or may have a disability. We have a link to where you can find that at our website, uh, that is I news source.org. Keep in mind that you can get this help at home. It's not just for those who vote in person. Postage is paid. That's another tip. The returned envelopes don't need stamps. Um, if you would rather not mail in your ballot, you can give it to a trusted friend or family member to return it for you. There is a spot on the envelope where you can designate that you give permission. You can also visit I'm one of more than a hundred drop off locations around the County. The County has expanded this program. Um, we have a link to those drop off locations in our voters guide. And really the big key here is the deadline. Um, all ballots need to be postmarked by election day. That is November 3rd for this election ballots can arrive up to 17 days after the election. Typically it's just three. That's a change that state lawmakers made due to the pandemics. So there is more time for your ballots to arrive, but they've gotta be postmarked by November 3rd. Speaker 1: 02:45 And I want to get into that in a second, but the I new source voting guide has a couple of really handy things. A map of polling places in the County, and a quick link to check your registration status, which I went on and did this morning and turns out I'm registered as I was fully confident about, but it's good to see it there in black and white. Tell us the rules regarding registering for those who still need to register. Speaker 2: 03:07 The deadline to register to vote is October 19th. That is really a key deadline. If you want to automatically receive a ballot in the mail, as we've been talking about for most people, this will be the easiest method. So remember that deadline is October 19th. Um, it is a good idea to check your registration as you did today. Um, keep in mind that if you've moved recently, you need to update your voter registration. Um, and lastly, I should note that California now has same day voter registration, so you can register at any time, but if you do miss that October 19th deadline, you will need to cast a provisional ballot. Uh, that means that election officials will verify that you're eligible to vote before counting your ballot. Um, so now is a good time, you know, check your registration, uh, before the October 19th deadline. Speaker 1: 03:57 Now, getting back to that extended counting period, I saw on a recent news story, California takes the longest account votes and report results among the States. Talk a bit about why that is and why we all need to be patient as November 3rd comes and goes Speaker 2: 04:11 In recent years, California has been among the slowest States to count ballots. And this year we're really facing unprecedented changes to the election system, uh, experts and folks who monitor voting trends say, it's likely this will slow things down even further. Um, your listeners may remember that during the midterm elections, we had several congressional races in Southern California that were too close to call and took weeks of vote counting before the winter was clear. Um, this election is likely that we'll have even larger numbers of people voting by mail. And the time that ballots will be accepted, as I mentioned, has been extended to 17 days after the election. All of these factors are likely to slow down the count. Um, so voters should be prepared that not just nationally, but especially here in California, the results may not be immediately clear. It takes time to count votes here in California. Speaker 1: 05:04 And let's talk about those who want to vote in person, relatively few people. I, I see, but what's different about this election, about where people can vote and what to expect there. Speaker 2: 05:15 Uh, one of the, the big changes for this election is that the number of physical polling locations is dropping drastically, uh, because of the pandemic. Just to give you an idea, uh, in San Diego County, during the merge primary, there were nearly 1600 polling locations for this election. We'll have just 235 locations. So just 235 down from 1600, it's a huge change. Um, they are calling the polling locations this year, super polls, the County registrar, Michael VU told me that they'll have paid staff and more poll workers than normal to help voters. Um, for the most part, they will also be in larger physical spaces compared to prior years. They'll also be open longer. The super polls will be open Friday through Tuesday instead of just election day. So that's October 31st through November 3rd. You know, other changes masks. Certainly there are precautions in place for the pandemic. Mast are absolutely encouraged. Um, but accommodations can be made if they're requested. If for some reason you can't or don't want to wear one. I also want to mention that if you can't get to your assigned polling location, you can vote at any super poll location around the County. Speaker 1: 06:28 Well, let's hear from Michael BU the registrar voters on the thought behind the in person changes. We don't want a crowding to occur. Uh, we want to be able to serve Speaker 2: 06:39 In a very efficient manner as well. That's why we have so many check-in stations, Speaker 1: 06:43 So many more voting booze. Now, based on your interview with voodoo, you expect a long lines at certain polling places on November 3rd. Speaker 2: 06:51 I think voters should approach voting in person knowing that a lot is really unknown for the selection. We have never conducted an election quite like this before there are new safety precautions in place due to COVID. Um, it's, it's certainly possible that lines could be quite long. Uh, you want to check, you know, where you're headed to vote before you head out. And if you can vote by mail, um, election officials are encouraging folks to do so, because so much is unknown about how, you know, voting in person will play out this year. Speaker 1: 07:24 Donald Trump has made false claims that they're sure to be massive fraud with so many Americans voting by mail during this pandemic. What is the message for voters here who might be worried about whether there's potential for voting for us? Speaker 2: 07:37 I talked with County registrar, Michael VU about this, and he is reassuring voters that the process is safe. Uh, San Diego County has never experienced widespread or systematic voter fraud. Uh, in our voter guide, we have links to a lot of resources if you want to do additional research on this, on your own, but I can tell you that, you know, nationally as well, the claims of widespread voter fraud have been debunked. Speaker 1: 08:02 And you'll also find a link to the I new source voting guide on our website, kpbs.org, and look for the KPBS voting guide to go live. Next Monday, October 5th, I've been speaking with a new source reporter, Mary Plummer. Thanks Mary. Thank you.

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Major changes are ahead for the election. Here’s your 2020 guide for how to cast your ballot.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments