Five Things You Can Do to be a Mindful Voter

If you’ve read though the other information we’ve shared on how the federal, state and local governments are all working together, you might see how these partnership have increased our cyber awareness, both physical and cyber protections, and our ability to quickly take action to remedy anything that could slow down or impede any part of an election.

You may have also read about what the County of Santa Clara has done to increase our cyber posture and physical protections.  Actions such as updating firewalls and servers, going through a stress test to discover and remedy any weaknesses, upgrading voting technology that meets tougher security standards, implementing new physical security measures, and staff training and awareness have improved our knowledge and broadened our security.  Sharing information with our voters to help everyone be more aware is another way to build a better system.

Here are a few things all of us can do during every election to be a more mindful voter:

1. Be cautious about the information you consume and share – SIFT it before you share it, and if you suspect deceit, hit “delete”

Stop and do not react to the information immediately. Wait until you’ve had time to……

Investigate the source of information and even take the time to……

Find other resources that can corroborate the information. But, still wait. Wait until you’ve had time to……

Trace the information back to the original source to fully validate what you are about to share with others

Did you know…. Based on the U.S. Senate report, the largest issue in the 2016 elections was the mass spread of disinformation, which is false or misleading information used to deceive people intentionally. This continued to occur during the 2020 elections and will likely continue to increase in efforts to hamper our democracy in years to come. Therefore, it is important to be very cautious with the information, news, emails and stories you read and hear, and be sure to SIFT it before you share it. If you suspect deceit, hit “delete.”

 

Did you know…. A lot of the disinformation was spread through social media channels that we all use every day. The more you like and-or share a social media post, the more legitimacy you place upon it. The more hits a website receives from readers, the higher it will appear in search engine results, again, giving the disinformation more legitimacy and longevity. Many social media accounts like “SCCVote,” operated by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, or “CaliforniaSOS,” operated by the Secretary of State are proven verified by display of a blue check mark  In order to receive that level of authentication from Facebook, for example, the user must have an active email and set up other authentication factors that are used to verify legitimacy. Be sure to SIFT it before you like or share it.

 

Did you know… Your legitimate sources of election information are your county and state elections officials. Each office prepares a separate voter information guide containing key election information you need to know to make your vote count. You can recognize official election mail by checking to see if it contains the Official Election Mail logo that distinguishes it from the other election-related or political mail you might also receive. The United States Postal System’s special logo can only be used by authorized election officials and indicates the election mail is from a legitimate government source. Political mail sent from a candidate or campaign committee or political party is NOT considered election mail.

Click HERE to read our Frequently Asked Questions about Registering to Vote

2. Be Diligent About YOUR voter registration

Did you know…. You can select from one of the online self-serve EServices found under Popular Services, on our homepage, such as look up your current registration status, locate the nearest Vote Center or Ballot Drop Off location in the county, and even check when your Vote by Mail ballot was received! The Registrar of Voters has a mobile app, SCCVote, where you can find the same services right on your mobile device.

Did you know…. For decades, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has provided voter registration services to people at the DMV who are obtaining a new driver’s license or state ID card. When you use the DMV services either online or in person, you will have an opportunity to easily update your voter registration information or you can choose to “opt-out” of voter registration. And, the signature you use on your driver’s license or state ID will be a part of your voter registration for voting purposes.

Did you know…. California counties start mailing Vote by Mail ballots about 29-days before a scheduled election. If you’ve confirmed your own voter registration, then you should be looking for your voting materials to hit your mailbox about 20 to 25-days before a scheduled election. If you didn’t get anything, or if someone in your family did and you didn’t, please verify your voter registration by using our online self-serve Voter Registration Look-up tool found under our Popular Services , or by giving us a call at (408) 299-VOTE [8683].

 

3. Be Diligent About YOUR Vote. With the new Voter’s Choice Act, everyone can now Vote by Mail, so the onerous is on the voter to get it right.

Did you know.… California county elections officials verify the signature on each sealed ballot envelope before it can be opened. If the signature doesn’t match the voter’s record, or the envelope is not signed by the voter, the envelope cannot be opened, and the ballot cannot be counted unless the voter corrects their envelope.

Did you know…. If you forget to sign your return Vote by Mail ballot envelope, you can get another chance! That is, if you return it to us early enough to let you know. California county elections officials can now send you an “Unsigned Ballot Statement,” for you to sign and return so your ballot can be processed. Most importantly, you must return that statement by the deadline.  

Did you know…. For decades, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has provided voter registration services to people at the DMV who are obtaining a new driver’s license or state ID card. That means the signature you use at the DMV is likely to be the same signature that is on file with your county elections official.

If your signature doesn’t compare, you can get another chance! We know signatures can change over time and sometimes they change dramatically. California’s county election officials can now send you a Signature Verification Statement for you to sign and return so your ballot can be processed. Most importantly, you must return the Signature Verification Statement by the deadline shown on the statement.

Click HERE to read our Frequently Asked Questions about Voting by Mail.

 

4. Have a Voting Plan. Will you return your Vote by Mail ballot using the U.S. Postal System or return it to a Ballot Drop Box or a Vote Center?

Did you know…. California has expanded voting opportunities for vote by mail voters who return their ballot by using the mail stream.  Since 2018, ballots received after Election Day can be processed, as long as TWO things are clear: 1.) your ballot is postmarked on or before the date of the election, AND, 2.) the voted ballot is received by the county elections official no later than three days after Election Day (what we call E+3).

Did you know…. The main reason for disqualifying a Vote by Mail ballot and not being able to count it was because it was received too late! In Santa Clara County, there are well over 100 Vote Centers and Ballot Drop-off Locations in a countywide election that you may visit to return your voted ballot and be sure it is received on time. For each election, you will receive a list of established Vote Centers and Ballot Drop-Off Locations set up for the election, as locations may change over time.

Did you know…. The main reason for not counting a ballot at all is that it was never voted. We cannot count a ballot that you choose not to cast.

Click HERE to read our Frequently Asked Questions about Voting by Mail

5. Ask questions! Know your Voter’s Bill of Rights

Did you know…. California has created a “Voter Bill of Rights” you can find it inside the State Voter Information Guide prepared by the Secretary of State, and it is also posted at your Vote Center. The Bill lists many rights you have, such as the right to cast a ballot if you are a valid registered voter, or to vote Provisionally or Conditionally if you’ve missed the deadline, the right to cast a ballot if you are in line BEFORE the polls close, to receive a new ballot if you made a mistake, to election materials in a language available in the County, and you have a right to ask questions about and observe the election process. The complete text of the Voter’s Bill of Rights can be found in Section 2300 of the California Elections Code.

Did you know…. The Registrar of Voters has multiple ways to contact us to have questions answered. We can be contacted by telephone, email or even through one of our social media accounts, under SCCVote. Visit our Contacts Directory for the correct email or telephone number of the person you wish to contact about our election programs.

Did you know…. A lot of our processes are open to the public for observation. If you visit our office, we can share our “Guide to the Registrar of Voters,” that provides a brief overview of each of the key divisions and the part they play in our elections. Our website offers information on voter registration, voting by mail, and how votes are counted, including a manual that describes canvassing the vote!  

Want to know more? Click HERE  to read other Frequently Asked Questions About Election Security and Administration.


 

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