Vote Safely, Officially and Effectively

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L.A. and Orange County residents have plenty of options to ensure their votes count in this year’s general election.

Ballot drop box at the Nakaoka Center in Gardena. (GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo)

By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS, Rafu Staff Writer

By now, nearly all registered voters in the State of California should have received a Vote by Mail ballot for the upcoming Nov. 3 general election.

Ballots were sent to all voters to ensure a safe and accessible voting option in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

For those who choose not to vote in person, the mail-in ballot is a way to exercise your right to vote without having to be at a polling place in person.

If you have not yet registered to vote, the deadline to do so and receive a mail-in ballot is Oct. 19. If you register after that date, you will still be eligible to vote in person, but you will not receive a mail-in ballot.

Once you have received your ballot, use blue or black ink to fill in your choices, and put the ballot cards into the included envelope.

Michael Sanchez of the L.A. County Registrar Recorder and County Clerk’s Office said it’s vitally important to remember to sign and date the back of the envelope after you seal it.

“That’s especially important because the signature is what the county uses to verify the ballot and return envelope that were received matches what’s on the voter’s registration record,” Sanchez advised. “It’s very important to have that signature on the back.”

The envelope can be mailed via the U.S. Postal Service, and no postage is required.

Your ballot must be postmarked no later than Nov. 3 in order to be counted, but the county elections office urges everyone to send in their ballots as soon as possible, due to the large number of ballots expected to be received.

“We are encouraging voters go return it as quickly as they can – the earlier the better,” Sanchez said. “But as long as any mail ballot is returned by Election Day, Nov. 3, and it’s received by our office within 17 days by the USPS, then we will still accept that ballot. But again, it’s important that it is postmarked by Nov. 3, Election Day.”

As another option, the County of Los Angeles has set up 400 official ballot drop boxes around the county. Your sealed and signed ballot can be deported into one of these secure boxes near you.

The yellow, white and blue boxes are easily identified with the county seal and are equipped with several security features. These are the only official drop boxes for ballots. Your ballot came with a list of the six nearest drop boxes to your home.

Ballots are collected regularly by at least two authorized election workers.

Ballot box in front of the Little Tokyo Branch Public Library on Los Angeles and Second streets in Little Tokyo. There is information in several languages, including Japanese, on the sides. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

Of course, you can still vote in person, if you wish. There will be more than 750 Vote Centers open across L.A. County, including schools, libraries, community and senior centers, public offices, even Dodger Stadium and Staples Center. Selected centers will open on Saturday, Oct. 24, and all vote centers will be open Friday, Oct. 30, and will remain open daily through Election Day, Nov. 3.

Vote center hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Centers will be open until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Your mail-in ballot can also be dropped off at Vote Centers without having to wait in line, Sanchez added.

For more information, including the locations of nearby drop boxes, your nearest Vote Center or to request a ballot in a language other than English, visit LAVote.net, or call (800) 815-2666.

Orange County residents can also make use of more than 115 official drop boxes, located throughout the county. In-person voting and drop-off centers will be open in OC beginning Oct. 30 and will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Election Day, the centers open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Find your nearest Orange County drop boxes or voting centers at OCVote.com, or by calling (714) 567-7600.

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