This week, millions of Los Angeles County residents began receiving their ballots for the November election, and local election officials say they’re already getting a wave of questions and concerns from people voting by mail for the first time because of the pandemic.
But, in most cases, there’s an easy remedy for these issues, said Mike Sanchez, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder Clerk’s office.
What if your name is misspelled on your ballot or you’re listed as a Ms. or Mrs. when you’re actually a Mr.?
“Obviously we want people to be identified properly but that shouldn’t trigger a voting issue,” Sanchez said.
What about if you receive someone else’s ballot—or if you’re mailed two ballots? Is that evidence of voter fraud?
No, according to, Sanchez. So long as the recipients only use the correct ballots when voting and only votes once, there’s nothing nefarious going on. The system is set up to screen out multiple votes from the same person.
The county will also disqualify ballots if the voter doesn’t sign the back of their vote-by-mail ballot envelope or if the signature does not match previous voter records.
Sanchez says that generally accounts for “less than 1%” of ballots received but, even then, the county has a process to help ensure that everyone’s legitimate vote is counted.
If there’s an issue with a signature, or a voter forgot to sign their ballot, Sanchez said the county will contact the voter through mail with a form that can be signed and returned to the county, which will then compare that signature to the one on the back of the ballot envelope.
Sanchez said that if a voter has a question about a ballot or has an issue and doesn’t know how to resolve, it the safest thing to do is to contact the county’s election office through email, phone or through social media.
Why so many mail-in-ballot questions?
A lot of people are asking questions about mail-in-ballots for the first time because, earlier this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all California counties to send all registered voters vote-by-mail ballots as the COVID-19 pandemic raged through the state. The move is intended to prevent election sites from becoming possible spreading mechanisms for the virus but also means there will likely be a record number of people voting by mail this year.
And that wave has already started.
Election officials haven’t yet calculated how many ballots they’ve received this week, but they confirmed Wednesday some have begun to roll in. Those votes are being cast amid a backdrop of President Trump’s misleading claiming that vote-by-mail ballots will lead to voter fraud.
To help ease voters minds, the county has created a tool that allows voters to track their ballots allowing them to be notified when it is received by the county and even when it’s been counted.
The county has also posted a guide for how to successfully vote by mail. It points out several nuances that may not be apparent to first-time mail voters like the fact that no postage is required to send it back through the mail, that it can be dropped off in person at a polling site or at the numerous drop boxes installed throughout the county.
For those wanting to sidestep the potential vote-by-mail issues, Sanchez said there still is the option to vote in person, something he encouraged residents to do before election day.
“Remember to vote early,” Sanchez said. “There’s ten days before election day that you can vote and we have all the safety protocols in place.”
A number of sites throughout the county like Dodger Stadium, Staples Center and even the Long Beach Convention Center will be converted for in-person voting.
With the sheer amount of ballots expected to be processed by the county this election, Sanchez said it could take up to the Dec. 2 deadline to certify election results. While the presidential electoral votes are likely not in question, it could mean that local races and ballot measures could remain unresolved until a month after election night.