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By OC Supervisor Lisa Bartlett
On November 3, 2020, voters will have the opportunity to go to the polls and exercise their constitutional right to vote during one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history. Faced with the uncertainties of a global pandemic, it is understandable why voters might be hesitant, or feel somewhat apprehensive, about going to a vote center to cast their ballot on election day. As such, I wanted to share with you some of the measures and protocols the Registrar of Voters office has undertaken to ensure in-person voting can be conducted safely and securely.
In consideration of the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Registrar of Voters released an extensive report on changes and procedures that will be implemented for the November 3 Presidential General Election. The report covers a broad spectrum of election planning, including:
- Candidate filing
- Services for voters with disabilities
- Language assistance services
- Vote-by-mail voting
- Vote Center locations
- Ballot drop box locations
- Post-election audits
These changes are necessary in order to safely conduct the election in accordance with public health guidelines and maintain a secure and transparent election. California law requires that in-person voting be provided for the Presidential General Election.
As the pandemic began to take hold in Orange County, the Registrar’s office moved quickly to implement procedures that would provide safe voting options for all voters and a safe work environment for staff. Whether a voter prefers to vote at home or in-person at a Vote Center, every effort is being made to ensure they have a positive experience that promotes health and safety.
Some of the changes include:
- Detailed plans for disinfecting, maintaining physical distance, personal protective equipment and increased signage at all in-person voting locations
- Increased online training for vote center customer service representatives
- Leveraging technology to create remote public election observation opportunities
In addition, the Registrar’s office recently opened a 1,125-square-foot Vote Center Lab. As a fully functional, permanent replica of an in-person voting location, the Vote Center Lab was built to serve multiple purposes, such as testing processes and procedures, training election staff, educating the general public and supporting research efforts in a controlled environment. Its timely completion allowed the Registrar of Voters to test new processes and other changes to existing operations necessary for the November 3 Presidential General Election.
Since opening, the lab has served as a testing site to determine the impact of physical distancing and proper cleaning and disinfecting procedures on wait times for voters. It will also be used for training Vote Center Customer Service Representative to ensure they receive hands-on practice and experience in a Vote Center environment prior to stepping into an actual Vote Center.
The COVID-19 Election Response Report can be viewed in the Election Library at ocvote.com/election-library.
All voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the November 3 Presidential General Election for safe and convenient voting at home. Voters can check their registration, re-register, and register to vote at ocvote.com. For more information, call 714.567.7600 or visit ocvote.com.
I hope you find this information helpful as you contemplate the options available to you for voting in November. Be safe and stay healthy.
Lisa Bartlett sits on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, representing the 5th District. She was reelected in 2018.