Election guide: Voting safely during COVID, where and how to do it

Voters+visit+the+Los+Angeles+County+Recorders+Office+to+vote+early+for+the+November+3%2C+2020+general+election.+Oct.+15%2C+2020.

Jacqueline Cochran/TM

Voters visit the Los Angeles County Recorders Office to vote early for the November 3, 2020 general election. Oct. 15, 2020.

Jacqueline Cochran, Community Editor

November 3, is this year’s General Election. In such an unprecedented time in the lives of Americans throughout the United States the election seems to be front and center.

Vote by mail

“Voting in this election will decide one of the most important issues that is on the minds of my entire family,” said Javier Ray, a registered voter and college student in Los Angeles County.

“Who will be our next president is a regular topic at home,” Ray said. But if I take the time to vote, will my vote get counted and is the risk of catching COVID-19 worth it?”

The state of California decided it would mail an absentee ballot to every registered voter in the state. The idea behind this is a way for everyone to vote without exposure to COVID-19 and to minimize the spread.

All voters would have to do is take the ballots to their local post office, no postage required. Or the ballot can be deposited into one of the many voting boxes that have been placed in many locations throughout local cities.

If you are afraid to use the ballot boxes, there is still time to do early in-person voting. Almost the entire month of October offered an opportunity for voters to visit the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder’s Office.

A step by step outline of how to vote using the vote by mail ballots. Vote by mail ballots need to be postmarked by Nov. 3, 2020. (Jacqueline Cochran)

In-person voting

“My family and I enjoyed the experience of early voting. I have been voting for at least 30 years and it was wonderful that I was able to do this with the people I love,” stated Hajop Najarian,  instructor of drawing and painting for Cerritos College.

“It felt safe and there were no long lines. You are required to wear masks and they escort on two people at a time in the elevator. I would recommend it if you have time,” Najarian continued.

Other in-person voting places including the Staples Center and Dodger Stadium will be open for voters beginning the Oct. 24 – Oct. 31.

Voter suppression is not a new tactic. According to the ACLU there have been a few incidences this year to try to keep some votes from getting through, such as voter ID laws, cuts to early voting and mass purges of voter rolls just to name a few.

Voter Suppression

In California, there have been instances of voter suppression. For example, there were reports of fake voter ballot boxes being distributed in places throughout Los Angeles County.

An article on CNN reported that the illegal boxes have been distributed by the Republican Party. Although the state has issued a cease and desist order, the California Republican Party has refused to remove any of the illegal boxes, the article said.

Authorized ballot boxes can be found in various cities throughout Los Angeles County. To locate an official voter drop box near your home or work you can enter your address in this link and a list of locations will be generated.

On Oct. 18, an official ballot box in Baldwin Park was set on fire causing the damage of at least 100 ballots to be damage. According to USA Today, the Registrar recorder’s office has asked the FBI and Attorney General to investigate this crime.

The US Census Bureau website shows Baldwin Park as having a predominately Hispanic population. As of this year, the city is 74.2 % Latinos.

If you feel as if your right to vote has been obstructed in any way, information on how to combat it or resolve potential issues can be ascertained from the ACLU’s website. Click on this link for tips.

Ballot tracking

A new system to track your ballot has been created in an effort to assist voters in feeling more comfortable taking their vote by mail ballot to the Unites States Postal Service for delivery.

Voters need to simply register at california.ballottrax.net. Voters will receive an email, text message or phone call once the ballot is received at the Registrar recorder’s office.

To date, there have been about 4.5 million votes already cast in California. With only days left before Nov. 3 political strategist suggest that California will break voting records.

Be counted, so make a plan that you are comfortable with, vote early, vote by mail but whatever you do, vote. Let your voice be heard because your vote matters.