For Immediate ReleaseSeptember 03, 2020
COVID-19 pandemic and new state laws alter business as usual
San Rafael, CA – The Marin County Elections Department is taking extra precautions for the November 3 General Election because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a new structure for polling stations and ballots being mailed to all registered voters.
“This will not be business as usual,” said Registrar of Voters Lynda Roberts. “Voting at home using the mail ballot will be the safest option for voters given social distancing protocols, but we’re also prepared for those who need in-person services.”
Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order of May 8, 2020 requires vote-by-mail ballots be mailed to every active registered voter statewide to preserve public health in the face of the threat of COVID-19. Roberts’ staff will begin mailing ballots to Marin residents October 5. They will be sent via first-class mail and delivery can be expected within five to seven days.
In-person voting opportunities should be used if a voter needs a replacement ballot, needs to register, or prefers to vote using an accessible ballot-marking device. Masks and social distancing will be required at polling places for the protection of poll workers and all voters. A limited number of voters will be allowed in the polling place at one time, so expect lines.
Also new is the requirement to provide options for in-person voting locations three days before Election Day - as well as on Election Day. Consolidated polling places will be open October 31, November 1, and November 2 for eight hours per day plus from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. November 3. If a voter must vote at a polling place, Roberts suggests going on one of the early days. Polling place hours of operation will be posted on the Elections Department webpage as soon as locations are finalized.
New legislation also requires a minimum number of ballot drop boxes to be available, which is 12 for Marin. Many of the drop boxes will be available around the clock. A complete list will also be on the Elections Department webpage as soon as locations are finalized.
Typically, a General Election in Marin would require 89 polling stations. Under the new rules, there will be 29 distributed throughout the county. The department considered several factors when selecting sites, including: population centers; locations familiar to voters (i.e. prior history as a polling location); accessibility; locations with enough space to accommodate social distancing and other COVID-19 safety protocols; historically low vote-by-mail usage areas; underrepresented areas; and proximity to public transportation.
Registered voters should have received a postcard in the mail giving them an opportunity to update their signature on file with the Elections Department. Those choosing to update it should sign the card, fold and seal it so the signature is hidden, then drop it back in the mail. Hundreds of people have sent back updated signatures already. Note that vote-by-mail ballots will be processed following standard procedures whether or not voters return the card.
The Marin County Elections Department is at 3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 121, San Rafael. Although Roberts is encouraging that business be conducted remotely if possible during the COVID-19 emergency, the department is open weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Only a few visitors are allowed in the office at one time as a public health precaution. The department will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day for registering and voting provisionally.
Follow the Elections Department on Facebook.
Lynda RobertsRegistrar of VotersElections Department
Marin Civic Center Administration Building3501 Civic Center DriveSuite 121San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6401Email: Lynda RobertsElections website