CALIFORNIA: VOTE BY MAIL FOR SECURE ELECTIONS IN 2020

A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE FOR CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS OFFICIALS

ABOUT THIS RESOURCE

Sightline’s state-by-state guides are designed to give local election officials and legislators the information they need to identify and take the most important steps to get ready for November. Each set of state-specific resources includes best practices and established models from around the country, including practical nuts and bolts advice for clerks, materials from election administrators with experience conducting all mail elections, and information about vendors and costs.

How California is prepared for Vote By Mail

  • Provides a postage-prepaid return envelope for mailed ballots.
  • Ballot tracking required by state law.
  • Gives voters sufficient opportunity to cure signature problems.
  • Allows any voter to request an absentee ballot.
  • Offers voters a “single sign-up” option to permanently vote by mail.
  • Uses voters’ signatures to verify ballots.
  • Allows county clerks to start processing ballots sufficiently early.
  • Accepts mailed ballots postmarked on Election Day.
  • Allows early in-person voting starting three weeks before Election Day.
  • Allows anyone to return sealed ballots in person.
  • Automatically registers voters and updates their address.

RECOMMENDED STEPS FOR SECURE ELECTIONS

Within each section, recommendations are arranged roughly in order of importance and ease of implementation.

For Local Election Officials
  • Coordinate with USPS.
  • Design ballots and envelopes that are easy to use.
  • Implement robust signature verification.
  • Consider using a professional printer and ballot sorter.
  • Count ballots at a secure centralized facility.
For Lawmakers
  • Join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).
  • Account for voters with nontraditional addresses.
  • Allow voters to request an absentee ballot online.
  • Allow voters to request replacement ballots online.

Download the full California action packet, with detailed information for each recommendation.

California's Grade for Vote By Mail preparedness = A-

Our grading system: We evaluated each state on 16 factors, covering access, administration efficiency, security, and infrastructure.

send this resource to california’s secretary of state:

Alex Padilla, [email protected]

send this resource to california’s chief of elections:

Jana Lean, [email protected]

Contact us

We welcome your questions and feedback. Email Kristin Eberhard, director of Sightline’s Democracy research program.

Photos: Vote By Mail in California. Shutterstock.