Secretary of state urges California voters to return their ballots early

Election guide

California’s chief election officer wants you to return your mail ballot early.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office began sending out emails to voters on Tuesday encouraging them not to wait to send back their ballots.

Every registered voter in California should have received a mail ballot by now, the message says, and returning them early “will help ensure safe physical distancing at voting locations.”

The California state department started sending out the emails a day after the agency ordered Republicans to remove the unofficial ballot drop boxes that they’ve admitted to setting up.

“Our interest is in protecting the integrity of this election,” said Padilla, who’s a Democrat.

The GOP has refused to remove the drop boxes, arguing that state law doesn’t specify a ban on collecting ballots in a box. The state sent the party a cease-and-desist letter.

County election officials, including in L.A., Orange and Ventura counties, are now urging voters to drop off their ballots at official drop boxes by the Nov. 3 deadline. Alternatively, ballots can be returned via mail — no stamp necessary.

The Secretary of State’s Office also reminded voters to seal, sign and date their ballots. The signature should match the one provided when registering, typically the signature that appears on a voter’s driver’s license, the department said.

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