Voting in Santa Clara County: What you need to know
Mail processing in a United States Postal Service facility. (Courtesy of USPS)

With less than three months until Election Day, voters are facing confusion and misinformation about how to vote in the presidential election during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In California, all voters will receive a ballot in the mail for the Nov. 3 election. In Santa Clara County, voters should expect to see their ballots with pre-paid return postage arrive the week of Oct. 5. Voters do not have to request a ballot.

In-person polling locations will be made available throughout Santa Clara County and the state due to provisions made in the California Voter’s Choice Act. There will be 98 ballot drop-off boxes throughout the county, however, locations are still being determined.

How do I know if I am eligible to vote?

You are eligible to vote if you are:

A U.S. citizen and a resident of California;

Are the age of 18 or older on Election Day;

Not currently in state or federal prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony.

You can check your voter registration status on the California Secretary of State’s website here.

What’s the deadline to submit a mail-in ballot?

Technically, a voter’s ballot just needs to be postmarked by Election Day and received within 17 days. However, the United States Postal Service provided the following guidance when contacted by San José Spotlight

“The USPS recommends no less than a week before election for voters to return their ballots,” according to spokesperson Augustine Ruiz Jr. “Voters who use collection boxes to drop off their mail should be cognizant of the cut-off times for pickup service for each collection box.”

Where can I vote?

Ballot drop off-box locations have not been finalized in Santa Clara County but a list of locations will soon be available on the Secretary of State’s website: https://caearlyvoting.sos.ca.gov.

Ballot drop off locations and in-person voting sites will also be available on the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters’ website here.

What do I have to take to the polling place?

If you are registered to vote in California, and you provided your Social Security number, driver’s license number or California ID number when you registered, you do not need to bring any identification with you to vote in person.

However, if you omitted the above in your registration, a polling worker may ask for proof of identification. According to the Secretary of State’s website:

“A copy of a recent utility bill, the sample ballot booklet you received from your county elections office or another document sent to you by a government agency are examples of acceptable forms of identification. Other acceptable forms of identification include your passport, driver license, official state identification card, or student identification card showing your name and photograph.”

What if my dog ate my ballot?

If you lose your ballot, the Secretary of State’s office encourages voters to contact their county elections official to be sent a second vote-by-mail ballot. Contact the Registrar of Voters at 866-430-VOTE (8683) or email [email protected]​. You must submit your request for another ballot at least seven days before Election Day. You can also pick up another ballot in person at the Registrar’s office or any vote center in the county.

Who processes my ballot?

You can track the status of your mail-in-ballot via the Secretary of State’s “Where’s My Ballot” feature here.

Where can I find final results?

Voters can find election results after 8 p.m. Election Day on the website for the Santa Clara Registrar of Voters, however, votes from polling locations all over the county will still continue to be reported after the 8 p.m. deadline. When all voting centers have reported, the election is considered to be complete.

What about the politics around mail delivery? 

Earlier this week, California Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Atherton, stood outside the Hamilton Avenue Post Office in Palo Alto to address the issue.

“The postal service is a pillar of our democracy,” she said. “It’s older than the country itself. Throughout American history, the postal service has been an integral part of our nation’s infrastructure.”

She said millions of Americans rely on the mail to receive social security and disability checks, bills, tax returns, and prescription drugs. The USPS also employs about 100,000 veterans, Eshoo said.

Eshoo shared stories of constituents who have been experiencing mail delays in her district over the past couple of months, including those who have had medication delayed. Some, she said, recently have gone days without receiving any mail whatsoever.

Eshoo voiced her support for the Delivering for America Act, which prohibits substantial changes to the function of the U.S. Postal Service, including the prohibition of overtime, revision of service standards, closure or consolidation of any post office or reduction of facility hours and “any change that would have the effect of delaying mail, allowing for the non-delivery of mail to a delivery route, or increasing the volume of undelivered mail.”

The act was introduced Aug. 11 by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York and would be in effect through the end of this year or the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, whichever is later.

What’s the lastest from the U.S. postmaster?

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy released a statement on how the USPS will prepare for an unprecedented volume of absentee ballots traveling through the mail.

The postal service will “deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards,” DeJoy said. “The American public should know that this is our No 1 priority between now and Election Day.”

In addition, DeJoy said:

Retail hours at post offices will not change;

Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are;

No mail processing facilities will be closed;

Overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.

If you have any questions about voter registration or casting your ballot in the upcoming election, the California Secretary of State’s office encourages voters to contact their office by calling toll-free (800) 345-VOTE (8683).

Contact Madelyn Reese at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @MadelynGReese

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