Amid concerns about efforts to undermine the U.S. electoral process during the pandemic, Berkeley is expanding residents’ opportunities to cast their ballots.
In coordination with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, the number of ballot drop boxes and Accessible Voting Locations, or ALVs, in Berkeley will increase, according to a city press release. The aim of this expansion is to ensure all votes are counted.
“Our democracy is sacred and the fact that the President and his allies are taking steps to quell participation is a disgrace,” alleged Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín in the press release. “Your elected leaders have an obligation to ensure the public can safely and securely fulfill their civic duty. Anything less is not just undemocratic, it’s un-American.”
As concerns have been raised regarding possible voter intimidation efforts at polling places, the mayor’s office encourages anyone experiencing such intimidation or who is denied their right to vote call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-687-8683, the press release adds.
Every Californian who is registered to vote will receive a vote-by-mail ballot under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-64-20, and the Alameda County Registrar of Voters began mailing ballots to Berkeley and Alameda County voters Oct. 5, according to the press release.
Currently, drop boxes are available at six locations in Berkeley, according to the press release. People who choose to vote in person should bring their mail-in ballots with them to a polling station on Election Day.
Most polling locations will be closed on Election Day, but some AVLs will remain open at nine locations in Berkeley, including Berkeley High School and the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, according to the press release.
Beginning Oct. 31, AVLs will open, the press release adds. The locations will generally be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and on Election Day they will operate from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voters who decide to use drop boxes must do so before the polls close at 8 p.m. Nov. 3, and voters who mail their ballots must have them postmarked by Election Day, according to the press release. Mailed ballots can be tracked on the California Secretary of State’s website.
To reduce COVID-19 transmission, county election officials urge voters to mail completed ballots using the U.S. Postal Service or place them in an official drop box, the press release states.
Voter registration is still open, the press release adds. The deadline to register online is Oct. 19 and people can register in-person on Election Day, but election officials advise voters to register at least 15 days prior to Nov. 3.