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By Julian Peeples

The final countdown to Election Day 2020 has begun. Our organizing, activism and getting out the vote will mean more than ever before.

This year, we’ve endured a worldwide pandemic and learned different ways to connect with our students and each other. The election will be different, too, with “distance voting” (voting by mail) for all registered California voters. Here are some important dates to remember, information about safely submitting your ballot, and how to get customized recommendations on propositions and candidates who support public education.


Voting Safely During COVID-19

In response to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this year issued executive orders directing counties to issue vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters and provide in-person voting opportunities to ensure every eligible voter can cast their ballot.

These orders also continue to require access to voter services, observer opportunities and election worker training, among other things. Mailing a ballot to every voter with active voter registration status is the first step to ensure that California voters do not have to choose between exercising their right to vote and protecting their health.

The secretary of state’s office recommends that voters avoid exposure by returning their mailed ballot in a manner other than going to an in-person voting location. Since there are a variety of reasons voters could be prevented from sending ballots in a timely way, counties have established alternatives to help reduce the need for voters to physically attend voting locations. These include:

Remote Accessible Vote-by-Mail (RAVBM)

RAVBM is an important alternative for voters unable to use a standard mail ballot, who might otherwise need to use accessible voting equipment at a voting location. It allows voters to mark a screen-readable ballot using common internet-connected devices. The ballot can then be printed out and mailed.

Drive-Through Drop-Off

Voters distrustful of mail service or late in completing their ballot can still avoid in-person voting locations by using a convenient alternative. A drive-through drop-off site allows voters to drop their ballot in a secure drop box without leaving their vehicle.

Check with your county registrar of voters for specific options available in your area, and visit the secretary of state’s website for a wealth of election-related information and resources.


Election 2020: Important Dates

Oct. 5: All registered voters will be mailed a vote-by-mail ballot and packet. Vote tabulation will also start as ballots are submitted, but no counts will be announced until polls officially close on Nov. 3 at 8 p.m.

Oct. 5-27: Any registered voter may apply with their county elections official for a vote-by-mail ballot.

Oct. 13: Mailing deadline for state and county Voter Information Guides.

Oct. 19: Deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election.

Oct. 20–Nov. 3: Conditional voter registration period, during which conditional registration and provisional voting can occur at county elections offices after the registration deadline.

Oct. 27: Deadline for vote-by-mail applications to be received by county elections officials. After this date, voters may submit an application in person to county officials.

Nov. 3: Election Day. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3. Check with your county registrar of voters for Election Day voting and ballot drop-off options. Vote tallies will not be released until after 8 p.m.


Be an Education Voter With Custom Ballot Recommendations

The stakes are higher than ever, so let’s raise our voices and votes for our students, public schools and community colleges! Not sure about candidates on your ballot? CTA has you covered, with recommendations for all the important offices on your ballot. Make a plan to vote and let’s win on Election Day. Our students are counting on us!

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