On November 3rd, as usual, we will hold a General Election to cast votes for president, congress, state legislative offices, city council members, school districts and other local elected bodies, like hospital districts.
What’s not usual is that we’ll be doing that in the middle of a pandemic and a record fire season. Despite everything that has made our lives more difficult this year, voting is one thing that’s easier than ever before.
In Shasta County, every active, registered voter has received a vote-by-mail ballot. Once they have signed and dated their ballot envelope, voters have choices about how to return their ballots. Voters are welcome to tally their ballot themselves – either now, at the Elections Department, or on Election Day, at their polling place. Either way, we’re encouraging voters to bring their ballot with them. Also, voters can send their ballot back by mail or bring it in-person to a local drop box. No matter how you return your ballot, it will be safe, secure, and counted.
We’ve done a lot to prepare for the election and make it as convenient as possible for you to vote by mail, like installing new ballot return drop boxes in Burney and a drive-thru drop box at the new REU building off Airport Road. We have also stationed new ballot return drop boxes in the local stores in Happy Valley, Bella Vista and Shingletown.
The other thing that’s new to voters in Shasta County and across the state this year is the Where’s My Ballot tracking tool. Once you send in your ballot, you can sign up to receive automatic notifications by text message, email, or voice call on the status of your ballot at WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov.
And while we encourage voters to vote by mail, we understand that there are some folks who will want or need to have in-person assistance on Election Day. For those people who do need to vote in-person, we’ll be opening up almost all the same polling places that we had open in the March primary, with one addition.
Under some of the new rules governing the election this year we could open fewer polling locations in November, so why are we keeping our precincts open? First and foremost, we are concerned with preserving the health and safety of every person in Shasta County. Opening more locations means fewer people in the same place at the same time. It means voters can stay in their local communities to get assistance on Election Day. And it means that the county doesn’t have to spend more tax dollars re-writing procedures.
While we did our very best to keep people’s polling locations the same, some of our facilities house seniors and are no longer a good option, so we moved them. All voters were notified of their polling place location on the back of their County Voter Information Guide they received in September, so make sure you check before you head to the polls. And please bring your ballot with you! You can run that ballot through the scanner at your polling place.
We have procedures in place for our staff and poll workers to sanitize equipment and frequently touched surfaces in both our office and in polling places to keep both poll workers and voters as safe as possible. We will also have plexiglass sneeze guards present in polling places along with other PPE to assist in this goal. There’s signage explaining the process and information in the County Voter Information Guide about safety as well.
What else can you do to prepare?
• Triple check your registration status at registertovote.ca.gov.
• Sign and date your ballot return envelope and turn it in as soon as you are can. For the first time, voters also will be able to take their vote-by-mail ballot to their precinct and put it through the ballot scanner themselves.
• Volunteer. If you’re worried about this election and how it will be conducted, get an insider’s view. Sign up at our website, ShastaVotes.org, and be part of history.
We all have a lot on our plates right now, but it’s easier than ever to make your voices heard. Let’s show up in force at the ballot box this election, whether by mail or early in person.