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Gov. Newsom orders new California in-person voting rules for November election

John Myers, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Second, voting locations will have to be prepared to accommodate the thousands of voters who could show up over the four-day period, both those who choose not to vote by mail and new voters who can register as late as Election Day. Not all of these voters may be eligible to use the same ballot, requiring additional supplies. And because voters could likely choose any of a county's limited voting locations, poll workers will need more than just an old-fashioned paper printout of voters who live nearby to check eligibility.

Not all counties are expected to use the new rules. Kammi Foote, the registrar of voters in Inyo County, said the consolidation of polling places and extended hours seemed better suited to urban areas in the state.

"In rural counties, the likelihood of a voter going to a different town is very small," she said. "And expanding to four days is going to be extremely difficult."

For 15 counties that adopted a 2016 state law swapping out neighborhood polling places for regional vote centers, voting operations will largely remain the same in the three days leading up to Election Day. But those counties, including Los Angeles and Orange, will be allowed to temporarily skip rules requiring vote centers to be open up to 10 days before the election.

All counties will be required to provide drop boxes for ballots, to be in place beginning on Oct. 6 and available through the close of voting on election night.

Newsom's original order to adjust the November election rules in light of the pandemic drew significant national attention, including criticism from President Donald Trump and other Republican officials. They insisted -- wrongly -- that the state would mail ballots to people who weren't registered to vote, including names on inactive voter lists.

As a result, the directive issued on Wednesday includes a provision that clarifies that it "is not intended, and shall not be construed, to mean that voters in an inactive voter registration status shall receive vote-by-mail ballots."

Still, Republican-led lawsuits have been filed over the governor's mandate to mail every voter a ballot. Legislation to codify that plan cleared the state Senate's elections committee on Tuesday.


A second bill seeks to adopt many of the governor's new rules on in-person voting that would let counties seek additional election changes from Padilla.

The author of that bill, state Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, said Tuesday that it was important to provide Californians more than one safe option for voting this fall.

"But I would suggest that we actually flatten the curve, and if you want to vote in person you do so prior to Election Day," Umberg said.

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