Keeping it Real—Preparing to Vote in 2020

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

― Abraham Lincoln

S.E. Williams | Executive Editor

This year voting is being complicated by the coronavirus and warranted concerns related to the slowing of mail service and other forms of voter suppression.

Experts encourage every voter to help ensure these concerns do not become roadblocks to casting his/her ballot.

The best ways to overcome or neutralize these concerns is to be educated regarding what is expected of voters this election cycle. The ongoing disruption in daily norms is requiring all of us to not only plan our vote but to also vote early and encourage others to do the same.

The most important first step in planning your vote is to check your voting status and ensure nothing has changed in the official record since you last voted; or if you are newly registered, to confirm you are in the voter database. This can be accomplished with a quick visit to the Secretary of State’s website to check your voting status. You can do so by following this link.

This year, every registered voter in California will be mailed a ballot no later than 29 days prior to Election Day. In addition, early voting and in person voting will also be available just as in previous election years.

For those planning to vote by mail, remember your ballot must be postmarked on or before November 3 and received by the Riverside or San Bernardino County election’s office, no later than November 20.

Voters can also return their ballots in person to their county elections office or any polling place in the county before 8:00 pm on November 3.

Any registered voter can also go to the county elections office in person to request and receive a vote by mail ballot. The Riverside County registrar of voter’s office is located at 2724 Gateway Drive, Riverside and in San Bernardino at 777 E. Rialto Avenue, San Bernardino. Both offices are opened Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Because health directives to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in reduced access to some buildings, counties have been encouraged to maximize the number of exterior mail ballot drop box locations available to voters in each municipality beginning October 6, 2020, and ending at 8 p.m. on Election Day, November 3, 2020. A preliminary list for Riverside County locations is available here and San Bernardino County here. Although the window of opportunity for voters in Riverside County to weigh in on the list closed Sunday, September 13, voters in San Bernardino County have until Friday September 18 to comment on the locations proposed in the San Bernardino region.

San Bernardino voters can submit public comments through 5 p.m. on September 18, 2020, by email at Communications@rov.sbcounty.gov, by fax at (909) 387-2022, and/or by mail or in-person at 777 E. Rialto Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92415.

Once finalized, these lists of early voting and vote-by-mail ballot drop off locations will also be available on the Secretary of State’s website that can be easily accessed by following this link.

At the risk of being redundant, once again I would like to stress the importance of first ensuring you are registered; second, planning your vote; thirdly, knowing the candidates and issues especially those in  your community; and if possible, voting early.

As we hear again and again how much is riding on this year’s election, it is especially important not to lose sight of the adage that all politics are local.

The community’s priorities established November 3 as expressed in the ballot initiatives supported and candidates elected, will continue to build the foundation of this region’s political power and representation that flows upward to the state and federal levels. For this reason, it is as important as ever before that voters are clear-eyed and informed in their choices.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

S.E. Williams is editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News.

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