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An Orange County Voter’s Guide To The 2020 Election

Orange County instituted new voting processes and established new voting locations for the California primary election which is on March 3. The new system updates the two voting methods for Orange County residents: in-person voting and mail-in ballots.

Garages, schools, churches and other traditional polling sites have been replaced with centralized vote centers. Registrar of Voters’ Neal Kelley informed voters that the furthest distance they would have to travel is 1.2 miles, and many voters in denser areas will be much closer.

Voters can now cast their ballot at any of the 188 vote centers located in the county. Unlike last year when voters had to vote at their neighborhood polling center.

The system has received its first major upgrade since 2003, with over 980 new voting machines and the addition of paper ballots. Machines will no longer rely solely on electronic ballots, but will now print out a paper form for voters to confirm their choices and turn into a vote center official to be tallied.

“I was not a fan of not having a paper trail,” Kelley said, “So we are coming full circle. I think the country, in many jurisdictions, is doing exactly what we’re doing: going back to paper.”

Beginning 10 days before election day, voting centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. On the weekend before election day, they will increase their hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on election day, they will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Same-Day Voter Registration allows voters to both register to vote and cast a ballot at any vote center on election day.

Additionally, all voters registered in Orange County have received a mail-in ballot in case they cannot make it to a voting center. Requests for ballots or replacements can be made on Orange County’s official voting website.

Voters can return their mail-in ballots in the enclosed postage-paid envelope or drop it off at any voting center or one of the 110 dropbox locations. 

Individuals do not need to drop off their individual ballot. A change in California policy in 2018 allows for ballot harvesting, in which anyone can collect an unlimited number of mail-in ballots and drop them off at any of these locations.

Voters seeking to familiarize themselves with the candidates and propositions on the ballot can find more information online.

Ian Anzlowar is a City News Intern for the 2020 winter quarter. He can be reached at ianzlowa@uci.edu.