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Voting Guide 2020: What to Know About the Presidential Election in San Diego County

The 2020 Presidental Election is occurring in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, so it will be different this year

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What to Know

  • Voting for the 2020 Presidential Election in California takes place from Oct. 5, 2020 to Election Day on Nov. 3, 2020
  • Every California voter will receive a vote-by-mail ballot this year but there are still ways to vote in person
  • There are 12 propositions that every California voter will see on the ballot

A pandemic is changing the way California votes in 2020 but it won't change the fact that your vote matters. Here's a guide answering some of the questions you may have about voting in a less than-typical General Election year.

When is the 2020 Presidential Election?

Election Day for the 2020 Presidential Election is on Nov. 3, though voting opens early in counties across California. Think of it more like a voting window. For San Diego County voters, early voting takes place from Oct. 5 to Nov. 2, 2020, with hundreds of polling places open from Oct. 31 to Nov 3.

Am I registered to vote?

If you think you may have registered to vote before, or want to make changes to your voting preferences, check your registration status here.

Oct. 19 is the last day to register online to vote in the state of California. You may also request a registration form by calling the San Diego County Registrar's office at (858) 565-5800 or email but it must be postmarked by Oct. 19.

If you've recently moved or changed your name, you must re-register to vote by completing a new voter registration form.

Luckily, for those that miss out on registering to vote during the window, the state of California allows voters to register using what's called conditional voter registration up until and on Election Day. Just go to the Registrar's office or any polling place to register and vote using a provisional ballot. Rest assured, your vote will still be counted.

Secretary of State - Voting In California

Can I still vote in person this year?

The short answer: yes. But the county does encourage people to vote by mail because there will be fewer polling places this year in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

If you choose to vote in person, you must do so at your assigned polling place. Use this guide to find your assigned polling place or check the back of your sample pamphlet.

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; Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and on Election Day, Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Be sure to bring your vote-by-mail ballot with you to the polls if you choose this option. If you forget, ask for a provisional ballot, but your vote will take longer to process as a result.

NBC 7's Alexis Rivas explains the new way to track your voting mail-in ballot.

Can I take a selfie with my ballot?

Yes. Voters can take photos of their ballot and share it on social media after the state Legislature overturned a law in 2017 that prohibited it. Keep in mind that it is still illegal to take photos or videos of other people voting.

Where does the Presidential race stand?

The Democratic Party has selected former Vice President Joe Biden to represent the party in the 2020 Presidential Election. Former California Sen. Kamala Harris is his running mate. The pair will run against current Republican candidates President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. California voters will also notice candidates for the Green Party, Howie Hawkins with running mate Angela Nicole Walker, and the Libertarian Party, Jo Jorgensen with running mate Spike Cohen. Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente Guerra and Kanye Omari West are running as Independents and Gloria La Riva and Sunil Freeman are running for the Peace and Freedom Party.

By voting for a particular candidate, voters are actually selecting electors, who cast a vote following the general election. There are a total of 538 electoral votes and the candidate that secures more than half wins.

Trump Biden
CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 29: U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

What's on my ballot?

San Diego County registered voters will have a number of propositions and candidates to select depending on where they live. Use this tool from the San Diego County Registrar's office to get a sample ballot specific to your voting address.

Every California voter will vote on 12 statewide propositions, Propositions 14 through 25, including one that would repeal a ban on considering race and gender in hiring and admissions decisions and another addresses the long-simmering battle over California’s commercial property tax rules. Click here for brief summaries of all 12 props on the November ballot in California.  Click here for official language from the California Secretary of State office.

Meanwhile, San Diego County voters will have their own slate of measures to vote on. For example, San Diegans will decide if the city charter should be amended to dissolve the current Community Review Board on Police Practices and replace it with a commission that will have its own staff and subpoena power. Encinitas voters will decide on a citizen initiative to allow commercial marijuana sales, cultivation, manufacturing and distribution. In Oceanside, voters will consider adding term limits for mayors and city council members and if a marijuana tax should be approved. See all local measures for the County of San Diego here.

Races to Watch

On top of ballot measures, San Diego County voters will be making major decisions on who will fill seats in Congress, the State Assembly, Mayoral vacancies in several cities and many more.

Here are a few of the top races to watch:

San Diego Mayoral Race
Voters in the city of San Diego will be asked to choose between two Democrats, City Council Member Barbara Bry and California Assembly Member Todd Gloria to become their next mayor. Mayor Kevin Falconer has reached his two-term limit and cannot be re-elected.
To help voters decide between the two candidates, NBC 7 hosted a mayoral debate where the candidates addressed a host of issues they will need to address if elected, including homelessness, racial equity in policing, and the budget deficit -- the largest in the city's history.
Learn more about Bry here and Gloria here.

Congressional Races
Seats in San Diego County's five congressional districts are up for grabs this election, including a seat in the East County's 50th Congressional District left vacant after disgraced former Congressmember Duncan D. Hunter resigned in light of a corruption scandal. Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar and Republican Darrell Issa are going head-to-head to fill the vacancy.
The 53rd Congressional District will also get a new face this year after Rep. Susan Davis announced she would step down from the role. Democrats Sara Jacobs and Georgette Gomez are vying for the seat

San Diego County Board of Supervisors
The make-up of San Diego County's supervising board may change this year for the first time in 30 years if Democrats are able to flip District 3, which spans the coastal communities of Del Mar and Encinitas, across state Route 52, and also includes the Interstate 15 connected communities of Tierrasanta and Escondido. District 1 and District 2 are also up for grabs this year, with two Democratic candidates and two Republican candidates, respectively. Here's what to know.

San Diego Unified School District Board
Three of five board seats are up for grabs in California's second-largest school district. Sabrina Bazzo and Crystal Trull are both running for the seat in District A, which covers north central San Diego, including University City, Clairemont and Madison High Schools. Incumbent Richard Barrera and Camille Harris are running to represent District D, which covers south central San Diego including Hoover High School. Incumbent Sharon Whitehurst-Payne and LaWana Richmond are running for the seat in District E, which covers southeast San Diego, including Morse and Lincoln High Schools. Learn more about the candidates here.

When will I receive my vote-by-mail ballot?

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters will begin mailing ballots to registered voters on Oct.5. This year, every registered voter will be receiving a vote-by-mail ballot because of an executive order signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

If your address is up to date, you should receive your mail-in ballot within a few days of mailing. Most should be received the week of Oct. 5. You can track your ballot here.

San Diego County Registrar Michael Vu says if a voter doesn't receive their ballot in the mail by Oct. 14, to call the Voter's Office at (858) 565-5800 to request a new ballot.

If you feel there is a problem, request a provisional ballot at any polling location to submit a vote. Once your registration has been confirmed, your vote will still count.

NBC 7s Bridget Naso has more details on drop-off locations for ballots around the county.

I received a mail-in ballot. What now?

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. Here's what to do once you receive your ballot.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters wants residents to know that voting by mail is safe and secure. More than 75% of registered voters have been signed up to vote by mail before the general election.

"With such a large percentage who prefer voting by mail over the years, the Registrar has matured its processes and increased capacity for the better part of two decades and are more than prepared to manage the processing of mail ballots accurately and securely," the Registrar's office said. To find out how they're ensuring the safety of your vote, click here.

Click here for what to know about mail-in voting in San Diego County.

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