November’s election will be historic for many reasons, but thanks to the coronavirus big changes are coming to how San Diegans vote.
Among the biggest changes: every registered voter in the county will receive a mail-in ballot automatically; there will be far fewer — yet larger — polling places for in-person voting; and there will be extra days for people to vote in-person.
“[This] will be the largest mail ballot election we’ve ever conducted in the county, as well as across the state,” said San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu on NBC 7’s Politically Speaking.
In a May executive order responding to the dangers of the coronavirus, California Governor Gavin Newsom mandated local election officials provide mail-in ballots to every registered voter.
“No Californian should be forced to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote,” read the Governor’s press release.
Since then, voting by mail has received intense political scrutiny, including from President Donald Trump — though without any concrete evidence of irregularities.
Vu told NBC 7 there is not a greater chance of fraud with more mail-in voting.
“Absolutely no, [there is not a greater chance of fraud]” said Vu.
The election leader noted that during the coronavirus pandemic, workers at the Registrar of Voters have not stopped updating the voter registration roll, which is often the target of partisan attacks.
“We’ll be doing all the duplicate queries to see is there a ‘Mike Vu’ and a ‘Michael Vu’ and are they one in the same people. It’s not necessarily a perfect system, but it’s limiting the risk and exposure that is out there that we’ve learned over multiple years,” he said.
“This is not our first time conducting big elections with the majority of voters receiving mail-in ballots. In fact, in our county 75% of the electorate already receives a mail-in ballot,” Vu told NBC 7.
But for the 25% of San Diegans who normally vote in person, there will be considerably fewer places to physically vote.
“In the March election, we had 1,548 polling places and precincts. In this upcoming election we’re having to consolidate those to much larger locations that can provide social distancing, as well as physical distancing,” explained Vu.
That means there will be closer to 230 polling places total.
These so called “super polls” will be open for in-person voting the four days leading up to the election, from Saturday, October 31 to Tuesday, November 3.
Through their #VoteSaferSD campaign, Vu’s office is encouraging voters to use mail-in ballots instead of polling places, because everyone will get one this year no matter what.
“To keep everyone safe, to keep the community safe to keep poll workers safe, to keep ourselves safe, keep the voters safe…vote that mail ballot,” implored Vu.
Though if people decide to vote in person anyway, poll workers will be wearing masks, face shields, and gloves to try and keep people from getting sick.