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Vote-by-mail has many safeguards to protect the 'integrity of the election': California Sec of State

Ines Ferré
·Markets Reporter
·3 mins read

Election officials this year have the added burden of not only conducting secure elections, but also safe ones amid the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why mail-in ballots have been a focus of the elections — and a political football.

But California Secretary of State Alex Padilla says to have faith in the process in the event that election results are delayed. “Don't believe ... the conspiracy theories that are certainly going to be circulating on social media,” Padilla told Yahoo Finance Presents: Hispanic Stars.

“We know there's a lot of questions and basically false accusations about the integrity of vote-by-mail circulating these days,” he said. “But to vote by mail in California, and frankly, for many states across the country, is nothing new.”

California’s top election official says for years voters have had the option to receive their ballot by mail, fill it in at their convenience, and then return it either by mail or delivering it in person.

Voting by mail is expanding around the country this election, with the pandemic forcing people to avoid crowds and stay at home.

“Folks who have questions about the security of vote-by-mail should know that there's many safeguards in place to protect the integrity of the election,” said Padilla, a former Democratic member of the California State Senate.

Security measures include watermarks, bar codes, and signatures which are compared to those on files.

California has a massive electorate — 21 million registered voters. Padilla predicts that on election night, the state will “have have a pretty good sense of the outcome of most contests.”

Other states with less experience in scaling mail-in ballots, may see some delays.

“What's unique about the 2020 election, is you have a lot of other states that are ramping up vote by mail significantly, maybe for the first time,” said Padilla. “States like Michigan, states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and others, that are ramping up vote by mail for the first presidential election in their experience.”

“So if the race is too close to call in several pivotal states— yes, there is a possible scenario that we won't know on election night. Maybe we won't know the day after or for a few days,” he added.

If that happens, Padilla asks the public to be patient.

“There's no funny business going on. It is the process at work,” he said. Officials have to go through the appropriate signature verification and auditing of ballots.

“The vote count will be complete in plenty of time for the Electoral College, for the sitting members of Congress,” he assured.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla points to a voting booth at the Vote Center being set up for the U.S. general election at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 24, 2020.   REUTERS/Mike Blake
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla points to a voting booth at the Vote Center being set up for the U.S. general election at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month Padilla shared his thoughts on this year’s Latino vote, whichwill likely play an expanded role in key states beyond California and Texas.

“States like Arizona and Colorado, Florida, of course — even Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina,” said Padilla. “As the Latino community continues to grow in population in states across the country, so is the Latino percentage of the electorate.”

He recommends voters make a plan for Election Day.

“Do you want to vote by mail where it's offered? You want to vote in person? Don't wait for the last minute,” he added.

Ines covers the U.S. stock market. Follow her on Twitter at @ines_ferre

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