Every one of San Diego County's 1.8 million-plus registered voters will receive a ballot for the 2020 Presidential Election in the mail this year following an executive order signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and local voting officials want residents to know what to expect.
The San Diego County Registrar of Voters will be sending postcards to every local registered voter this week with information on what to expect this November 3 -- when the country will likely still be dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which requires social distancing and prohibits gatherings.
Due to safety concerns, according to Newsom, he signed orders to ensure every active voter is able to vote from their own home, though there are options to vote in person. Here's what the Registrar's Office wants you to know:
Do I need to do anything to receive my mail-in ballot?
Nope! All registered voters will be getting a vote-by-mail ballot this year, so there is nothing else you need to do.
The county does encourage, as they do every year, all voters to check their registration information ahead of the election to ensure all your information is up to date; that way, you can ensure you'll receive your ballot.
If you've recently moved or changed your name, you will need to re-register to vote. Be sure to do that early to avoid any ballot errors.
And, of course, if you've never voted before, you'll need to register. You can do that here. (Psst, it takes less than two minutes.)
When do I have to submit my ballot by?
Ballots will start being delivered the week of Oct. 5, giving voters nearly a month to fill out their ballot and return it to the Registrar's Office.
Do I have to vote by mail in San Diego County?
You don't have to, but it's encouraged amid the pandemic. There will be four days for those who need to vote in-person to do so -- from Oct. 31 through Election Day on Nov. 3 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Be sure to bring your ballot if you choose this option.
In-person voters will find fewer polling places this year, and your usual polling location will most likely not be there. Be sure to be prepared if this is your choice, the county says.
In-person voters can even vote as early as Oct. 5 at the Registrar's Office located at 5600 Overland Ave., San Diego. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"The Registrar especially encourages older adults and people with underlying medical conditions to avoid long lines and crowded polling places by voting early," the agency said.
On Election Day, all polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Can the county handle 1.8M mail-in voters?
The Registrar's Office said nearly 75% of their registered voters are already signed up to receive vote-by-mail ballots. So the office feels equipped to handle the increase.
What Else to Know:
In signing the executive order, Newsom made California the first state in the U.S. to provide mail-in ballots to all voters. Since, Nevada, Vermont and several other states have moved to adopt similar policies.
But Republicans have pushed back against the order and several groups, including one backed by former congressman and current political contender Darrell Issa, have sued.
The suit filed by Issa and the conservative group Judicial Watch is inefficient. They argue that the order forces politicians to “reevaluate his electoral strategy in order to campaign” because they are "no longer running under an electoral system established under California law."
Secretary of State Steve Padilla responded to the complaint by calling it a "despicable" attempt to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to justify voter suppression.
The Republican National Committee also sued arguing that the move was illegal.
President Donald Trump has criticized the practice for months and even suggested this week that he could use an executive order to regulate mail-in voting, which would not be possible since elections are administered by the states with oversight from Congress, according to an NBC News Fact Check.
Despite the legal battles, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters has long been preparing for the 2020 Presidential Election and said they are committed to ensuring their voters can vote in a safe, yet accessible, manner, in whatever form that may be.