Election Day

It's Election Day, San Diego! Here's What County Voters Should Know

There are fewer polls this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and they will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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To take a look at the poll results of the top races nationally and in San Diego County, click here.

The day has arrived for the most unique election in history.

Already more than 1.2 million registered voters in San Diego County have cast their ballots – from mail-in to in-person polls – and the San Diego Registrar of Voters estimates up to 85% of ballots will be returned this election.

Election Day is well underway in San Diego County for the most unique election in history. NBC 7’s Nicole Gomez and Audra Stafford have details for you.

Still haven’t voted? No need to fret since we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know:

Voting in Person

First thing’s first – there are fewer polling places this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. To remedy that, the region opened “super polling” locations early this year to give people enough time to vote in person if they wish.

On Election Day Tuesday, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To find your assigned polling place, check the back of your sample ballot for a location or use the Registrar of Voters’ Office’s guide.

Keep in mind that if you plan to cast your ballot in person, you will need to wear proper facial coverings and maintain social distancing at the polls. And don't forget to take your mail-in ballot with you so you can surrender it and vote in person.

Anyone who forgets to take their mail-in ballot can ask for a provisional ballot instead.

For San Diego resident Mario Juarez, who just turned 18 in February, voting was something that he had been looking forward to.

"I feel good," Juarez told NBC 7's sister station, Telemundo 20. "I've been wanting to vote and now finally, I can."

This year's election inspired more young people to become involved in the voting process, with many signing up to be poll workers while older, more experienced poll workers from the past opted out this year due to the pandemic.

Joshua Pantoja said his first experience as a poll worker was one that he would cherish. Although he described his work schedule as "hectic" because he has to wake up at 5 a.m. each day, he said expanded his civic duty as a worker has helped him grow.

In honor of Election Day, San Diego County transit systems are offering free rides to help residents get to the polls. NBC 7’s Audra Stafford has details and insight on what local voters are saying.

“It kind of made me feel like an adult, grown up," Pantoja told NBC 7. "I kind of enjoyed it. I felt like I needed to make a change."

“It was pretty exciting, different. It made me feel more mature," he said.

Longtime poll worker Steven Schweitzer described his decision to work as a polling place site manager as "passionate patriotism."

“I feel privileged and honored to be able to participate," Schweitzer said. "I feel like it’s my duty to do it.”

At his polling location, an average of 100 voters showed up each day to cast their ballots. He said that despite tension due to the political climate, voters at his location were cordial and polite.

“They’ve shown up. They want to participate, they want to do that which they feel is their civic duty," he said.

NBC 7's Joe Little speaks with a couple of local poll workers about the importance of voting and why they're passionate about helping others at polling locations on Election Day.

Registering to Vote

Californians who are not yet registered to vote can take comfort in the existence of the state's Conditional Voter Registration law.

It states eligible citizens can register or re-register to vote within 14 days of an election, including the day of. California's last day to register online to vote was Oct. 19 but this law acts as a safety net for those who couldn't meet the deadline.

Those who still need to register can do so at their assigned polling place or by visiting the Registrar of Voters officer at 5600 Overland Ave.

For instructions on how to complete the conditional voter registration, click here.

According to Michael Vu, San Diego County Registrar of Voters, at least 15,000 people in the region cast their ballots as of Tuesday morning. He said this election season has so far been easygoing.

“It’s been really smooth all day today, particularly this morning," Vu said. "Normally, on election morning, it’s generally bustling with activity that’s going on.”

He said the reason there aren’t many any lines in San Diego County is because of the amount of voters who submitted mail-in ballots.

“At this time point in time, we have over 1.2 million mail ballots that have been returned back from voters – that’s going to ultimately reduce the level of crowding here at the Registrar of Voter’s Office but also at any one of the 235 super polling locations that we have," he explained.

Tracking Your Ballot

Did you already submit your mail-in ballot? Did you double check to make sure it was signed and dated? Then there’s a way you can track it.

BallotTrax is a free tool that registered voters can use to track the progress of their ballot. From when it was received to when the process is completed, voters can know every step of the way their ballot is taking.

To sign up for the service, voters will need to register with their name, date of birth and ZIP code. Via the individual voter’s preferred method of notification (such as text, email or phone), alerts will be sent about the ballot’s location.

Click here to sign up.

Races to Watch in San Diego County

From the local to the national scale, San Diego County residents have a lot to think about when it comes to who will represent them.

San Diego’s mayoral race includes two Democrats, City Council Member Barbara Bry and California Assembly Member Todd Gloria, who are seeking to replace Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who reached his two-term limit.

San Diego's 2020 mayoral candidates, Todd Gloria and Barbara Bry, voted on Election Day.

Democrats are also seeking to flip the Republican-majority Board of Supervisors as incumbent Republican Kristin Gaspar and Democratic hopeful Terra Lawson-Remer face off in a race to represent District 3.

NBC 7's Dave Summers heard from voters about what's on their minds.

East County’s race for the 50th Congressional District, which was left vacant following former Congressmember Duncan D. Hunter’s resignation, is in the spotlight. Republican congressman Darrell Issa is facing off against Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar.

Three board seats on the San Diego Unified School District Board are also up for grabs, and residents across the region will have a few Measures to consider.

For a more detailed look at the races to watch, click here.

Voter Safety

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to send every active registered voter in the state a mail-in ballot for the general election due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Voters still have the option to vote in person, however, and are advised to keep their health in mind when going to the polls. Facial coverings are required for poll workers and voters at polling places, and social distancing will be mandated.

Hand sanitizer stands may be available at the polls.

Voters concerned of their safety and health at the polls amid the coronavirus pandemic can take precautions for their wellbeing. NBC 7’s Ashley Matthews has some advice.

Voters are entitled to cast their ballots safely without intimidation. It is a federal crime to make any threats of violence at the polls or to block the entrance of polls.

Anyone who has questions as to whether something at the polls is acceptable or not can contact the non-partisan election protection line at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Concerns of any civil unrest have been apparent across the country as some businesses board up their windows ahead of the election's results. San Diego-area law enforcement said it is prepared to react to "any anticipated problems on Election Day and the days thereafter."

Voter intimidation is an old tactic with a long and ugly history. And as voters begin lining up for early voting in states across the country, some behavior is already being reported – particularly by supporters of President Trump – that falls in the “gray area” between illegal voter intimidation and free speech. Here’s what to know when you go to the polls.
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