Every Los Angeles County voter will be mailed a Vote By Mail (VBM) ballot as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about in-person voting. Ballots will be distributed starting on Oct. 5.

All registered voters should have received a VBM Mail Address Confirmation Notice with information on their voting status. Voters that have recently moved should make sure their address is updated and while voters who have not moved have less to worry about, officials are recommending everyone use the Voter Registration Tool (https://lavote.net/vrstatus/) to verify their status.

Voters can also sign up to track their ballot at https://california.ballottrax.net/voter/. Voters can receive text, email or voice messages from the free service that will provide updates on where your ballot is and when you can expect to receive it.

VBM ballots can be returned three ways, by mail, ballot drop-off box or at a Vote Center.

Ballots placed into the mail do not require postage. Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day to count.

Voters will also have the option of returning their ballots in one of the County’s officials Ballot Drop Boxes.

The Vote by Mail Drop Box program has been in place for several years with County officials placing large, secure boxes at locations throughout the region. In March there were 206 boxes throughout L.A. County. In the upcoming Presidential General Election, the program will expand to more than 300 secure and accessible boxes throughout the County, including Santa Monica.

County officials are still conducting recruitment and selection for locations but the final list will be available online (https://lavote.net/home/voting-elections/voting-options/vote-by-mail/vbm-ballot-drop-off) at least 30 days before Election Day

The Drop Boxes serve as an additional secure and convenient option for voters to return their voted ballot. Ballots that are dropped in the boxes are picked up regularly with dual custody. The frequency of pickups starts every 72 hours, then rotates to 48 and 24 hours as the election gets closer.

In-Person voting will still be available at Vote Centers throughout the county. Registered voters can begin voting up to 10 days before Election Day and vote centers will open to the public on Oct. 23.

Voters can use any Vote Center during the voting period from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the 10 day window and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Signatures are required for the new voting system.

“Voters must sign the eligibility oath and date the VBM return envelope before submitting their ballot,” said the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office. “Every signature is verified before the ballot is cleared for counting. If a signature is missing or if the signature does not match the one on file, the County will notify the impacted voter to allow the voter an opportunity to provide a valid signature.”

If a voter returned their ballot without signing the return envelope, the county will send out an “Unsigned Ballot Statement” that must be returned with a signature within 28 days of the election.

For more information, call 1-800-815-2666, email voterinfo@rrcc.lacounty.gov or visit www.smvote.org or lavote.net.

editor@smdp.com

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...