General Election sees differences in procedures due to COVID-19, but casting a vote still accessible

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This year has brought many challenges and has caused many things to readapt, this is not any different when it comes to voting and Election Day. Although voting by mail has always been an option to voters in California, this year there was an even greater urge to do so by mail because of COVID-19.

Many voters were concerned about their vote not being counted because of delays in the postal service as a result of COVID-19 so they opted for early voting to ensure it would.

“I wanted to do it by mail because I wanted to make sure my ballot was delivered on time to be counted because of the issues going on with the postal services,” said Michelle Lopez, a Stockton resident.

San Joaquin County Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly announced on Sept. 29 that San Joaquin County would be moving on to the red tier of the coronavirus pandemic, according to sjgov.org.

Red tier signifies that more businesses will be allowed to open up and be able to operate indoors by following certain guidelines.

Although San Joaquin County has now moved onto the red tier, people still fear in- person voting.

“If it was in-person, I would have been a bit fearful since I do have moderate asthma, but I would still go either way,” said Lopez.

Other people have called the registrar of voters regarding the use of face masks for in-person voting.

“We have received questions about if people can vote without a mask, which they can, ” said Jolena Voorhis, deputy county administrator for San Joaquin County. “There has been coworker training to prepare them for COVID health protocols including sanitizing surfaces, social distancing, offering masks to voters, monitoring room capacity and other measures relating to protecting health of the public and our staff.”
Officials want to make sure that voters come out and vote and feel safe.

“Workers have been trained on de-escalation tactics in place in case we do have intimidation or rallies at the ballot boxes as has been seen in other counties, we work closely with the sheriff departments to develop a strategy for our coworkers and for everybody in the county,” said Voohris.

The Registrar of Voters for San Joaquin County reports that there will be four options to vote this year.

In addition to voting by mail, residents can vote in-person at the San Joaquin County Registrar’s office, open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They can also vote in person at a voters service center as of Oct. 31. There will be 34 voter service centers in San Joaquin County that will operate Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Lastly, accessible vote-by-mail is also an option. That can be done by using a remote accessible vote by mail ballot that can be filled out at home, once filled out it will need to be printed and returned to the office of the registrar by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

“Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3, 2020 and received by the office of the Registrar of Voters by Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 to be counted,” according to sjgov.org.

Any questions or concerns regarding elections and voting you may contact the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters’ Office at (209) 468-(8683). The office is located at 44 N. San Joaquin St., Stockton, Suite 350.