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Mailing In Your Vote: What You Need to Know about the 2020 Elections

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The November 3, 2020 election is only four months away and, with groundbreaking ballot measures and the U.S. presidency on the table, this election promises to be one for the history books. Organizations across California are mobilizing to secure record voter turnout, particularly among voters of color, immigrant voters, and new and first-time voters. Funders are partnering to expand Get Out the Vote, voter education, election access, and more.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has added an unprecedented complexity to the election and raised concerns about in-person voting. As a result, California has mandated that the November 3, 2020 election be conducted as an all-mail ballot election or vote-by-mail election. With so much on the line, we've rounded up what you need to know about making your voice heard this fall. 

How can funders support a fair 2020 Election?

Philanthropy has a critical role to play in supporting Get Out the Vote, voter education and outreach, and advocacy efforts to ensure an accessible election for all. Looking for a place to start? We have created this handy Fair 2020 Election Funding Guide to help you! 

Why is it significant that the November 3, 2020 election is an all-mail ballot election?

While many California voters already receive vote-by-mail ballots, this is first time that the state has declared an all-mail ballot election. This means that all voters registered to vote in California should receive a mail-in ballot from their county registrar.

What is vote-by-mail?

Vote-by-mail allows any registered voter to cast their ballot by completing their ballot at home and returning it by mail. When you vote by mail, you do not need to go to a polling place to cast your ballot. Simply drop your completed ballot into the mail or at a designated drop-off site and you’re done!

How do I vote by mail?

Simply complete your ballot, sign it, seal it, and drop it off in a mailbox or at a designated drop-off location. Don’t forget to sign your completed ballot!

Will I get a vote-by-mail ballot?

If you are registered to vote, you will get a vote-by-mail ballot. If you are not sure if you are registered or registered in your current county of residence, please visit “My Voter Status” to verify your voter status.

Can I still vote in person?

Yes, in-person voting will still be available. Same-day voter registration will still be possible at polling sites. There will be less in-person polling sites than previous elections, so be sure to check your designated polling location beforehand. Health safety protocols, such as social distancing, will be in place at all polling locations.

How do I know if I am registered to vote in my county?

You can check your voter status using the Secretary of State’s My Voter Status tool. You can also see your party preference, language preference, and more. 

I don’t have stamps! Can I still vote-by-mail?

You don’t need a stamp! Your ballot comes with a prepaid return envelope. Just sign, seal, and drop it in a mailbox!

I heard that the Governor’s Executive Order has been challenged in court. What is that about? And what does it mean for vote-by-mail?

The lawsuits claim that the Governor overstepped his authority in mandating an all-mail ballot election and that only the Legislature can authorize such a change. However, the Legislature recently passed and Governor signed into law Assembly Bill 860 (Berman), requiring that mail-in ballots be sent to all registered votes for the November 3, 2020 election – essentially codifying the Governor’s Executive Order. Another bill, Senate Bill 423 (Umberg), that would require counties to provide options for in-person voting and ballot drop-offs is currently making its way through the Legislature.  The passage of these bills essentially renders the lawsuits moot.