CA Voting 101 – Lesson 3

Welcome to CA Voting 101—Lesson Three. Protecting the Integrity of your Vote DID YOU KNOW that by simply knowing a few basics you can do a great deal protect your own vote? FIRST, two to three months prior to every election, you should log on to the website for your County Election Official or Registrar of Voters. There should be a very prominent link that invites you to “check your registration”. (If there is not, take the initiative to contact the office and suggest/insist that one be initiated.) Avoid having your vote stolen. Election Integrity Project has determined that many voters have something about their registrations changed without their knowledge or consent. How that happens is a discussion for another time. But voters need to be proactive about checking their voting status, and making sure that their party affiliation, method of voting (at the polls, by mail), and mailing address are in accordance with their wishes prior to each election. Each election, more and more voters are showing up to vote at the polls, only to be informed that they are registered to vote by mail. If/when that happens to you, it is of great concern. If you did not request a change to that voting status, and especially if you did not receive a ballot in the mail, there is a high likelihood that your ballot was sent to an alternate address not provided by you, and your vote has effectively been stolen. You can avoid that eventuality by checking your registration in advance, and correcting any errors with your county elections office prior to the deadline in advance of Election Day. Be sure you can vote in the primary of your choice. Also unfortunately common is the situation that arises in a primary election when voters are unable to vote in the primary of their choice because for some reason their party affiliation has been changed without their request, permission or knowledge.  This situation can also be avoided if voters check their registration in advance of the deadline for registration, and make corrections if needed. You have voting options! The SECOND basic thing you can do is to understand your options for voting. In California, you have the right to vote in person at your county elections office any time during the 29 days in advance of Election Day. That vote is basically no different from a vote-by- mail ballot in the way it is stored and processed, but the option is available to any registered voter without affecting that voter’s permanent voting status. You also have the option to request a single-election vote by mail ballot. If you know that you will be unavailable to vote in person on Election Day, you may file that request with the Registrar of Voters in your county as late as seven days prior to Election Day. If you make that choice, be extra vigilant that the single election request is not interpreted to mean that you are requesting permanent vote-by-mail status. (Election Integrity Project strongly discourages voting by mail on a regular basis—see Lesson Six for details.) Don’t forget to follow up. THIRD, if you vote by mail, or provisionally, there is an online way to follow your ballot to determine: a. if your ballot was received; b. if your ballot was determined to be valid; c. if your ballot was rejected, why? All of this can be accessed through the website of your County Elections Office. As you can see, the integrity of each vote must be protected by proactive action on the part of the voter. Otherwise, the bureaucracy becomes the arbiter, and votes are subject to error and corruption in the system. Protect your vote!! And SPREAD THE WORD.