‘Return your vote-by-mail ballot today,’ California secretary of state urges

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The COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, thousands of Californians have been displaced by wildfires and concerns have been raised about mail slowdowns before the election.

So state election officials say residents shouldn’t delay voting until the last minute.

Californians have until Nov. 3 to turn in their ballots, but they don’t need to wait until then to vote, Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a reminder to registered voters Tuesday.

“Return your vote-by-mail ballot today,” Padilla urged.

More than 7 million voters in the state have already returned their ballots as of Oct. 27, Padilla said, adding that California residents have “multiple safe, secure, and reliable options” for returning their ballots.

“The more voters who return their ballots early, the safer in-person voting locations will be for voters who need them on Election Day,” Padilla said.

For those who choose to return their ballot by mail, it must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and election officials must receive it by Nov. 20. Because of the possibility of postal delays, election officials advise voters to send in their ballots early as possible. 

The U.S. Postal Service is facing a multibillion-dollar deficit. Over the last week, concerns have emerged over delivery delays just as more U.S. voters than ever are casting their votes via mail.

For people who are not sure their ballot will be received on time, they can also drop off their mail-in ballot at a voting center, county elections office or a secure county drop box anytime before 8 p.m. on Election Day. 

Many counties, including Los Angeles, have early voting locations available before Election Day. Officials have said that vote centers offer voter registration, replacement ballots, accessible voting machines and language assistance.

California voters can check their ballot’s status at the website wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov

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