The LA World Affairs Council held a recent Town Hall virtual event featuring California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

“This is the most consequential election in a generation,” Padilla said, noting that a Sept. 28 poll showed that Californians have concerns about not only the candidates and propositions, but the process of voting itself.

Padilla said that the claims about vote by mail being unreliable are “frankly baseless.”

“The national climate in last four years has left a lot to be desired,” he said. “We stand by the integrity of the process and the system here in California.”

Every active registered voter in the state will receive a vote by mail ballot. Padilla defended the US Postal service, despite the latest actions by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who implemented changes in the organization, including the removal of many sorting machines and mailboxes from service.

Padilla said that delays in postal delivery times are both real and perceived.

“Tracking can identify any bottlenecks or delays to keep the ballots moving on a timely basis,” he said.

“If you want to vote by mail, that’s our strongest recommendation,” Padilla added, noting that Vote by Mail is nothing new in CA, which has had that option for decades. “California postal workers know what they’re doing.”

Completed ballots won’t need a stamp to be mailed back. Voters can also drop off ballots at voting centers or in local drop boxes.

Drop boxes are emptied frequently by two team members, Padilla explained. The drop boxes are composed of a military-type grade material to protect against vandalism. They are located in public areas, most of which have nearby security cameras.

Padilla said the variety of voting options will ensure each individual election ballot is counted. “Voters who need the in-person option, they’ll have it. Both on and before election day.

“We encourage people who can, to vote early, to shorten those lines,” he added, reminding voters that they can choose any Vote Center in their county over an 11-day period, but they should remember to bring their masks, look for signage and use the hand sanitizer that will be available. 

Voting registration ends Oct. 19 by mail. Californians can also go to Vote.ca.gov to register, verify registration status or make sure the voter’s address is correct.

“You can sign up to receive emails on status of your ballot,” Padilla said. “Imagine getting that final confirmation that your ballot was counted.”

Ballots which are not in the proper, official envelopes, or envelopes not signed by the voter could be disqualified.

“The main two reasons for disqualification are the ballot arrived too late or was postmarked too late,” Padilla said. “They must be postmarked on or before election day. Be mindful of when next pickup is when dropping in a mailbox.

“If a voter forgets to sign the ballot, the County must contact the voter,” Padilla said. “If you get a call in the days after election, take it.”

Record turnout in March points to an even more stronger participation in the coming election, according to Padilla, who added that his office conducted a county-by-county assessment of departments handling the processes and determined which counties needed additional staffing for November. He feels confident that each county in the state is prepared.

“It takes us literally weeks to process vote by mail ballots,” Padilla said, noting that although counties will begin to process ballots earlier than usual, the common “election day” processing could turn into “election month.”

“We could all be going to bed November third not knowing who the winner is. It’s a time to be patient. It’s the process at work. We’d rather do it right than do it fast.”