It’s the last two months before the November elections and several factors, including a pandemic, will make voting in 2020 different than ever before.

Through the use of Voter Centers, and the statewide vote-by-mail system, for registered voters in Orange County, voting in 2020 comes with multiple options.

Vote Centers are a product of The Voters Choice Act (SB 450), established to modernize voting processes in the state.  The Orange County Board of Supervisors opted into the VCA in 2019.

Per the Orange County Registrar of Voters, SB 450, “authorizes counties to conduct any election as an all-mailed ballot election provided the jurisdiction provides ballot drop-off locations, vote centers and conducts outreach.”

In a report from the OCROV, the March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election was, “the first countywide election under the Vote Center model,” which received positive voter feedback.

At Vote Centers, a voter will be able to:

  • Vote in-person
  • Drop off a vote-by-mail ballot
  • Use an accessible ballot marking device that allows voters with disabilities to vote independently
  • Receive a replacement ballot
  • Obtain language assistance
  • Register to vote or update registration information

All Vote Centers will be in full operation during the established 5-day period of voting.

Beginning on Friday, October 30, Orange County Vote Centers will open from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm. On Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, Vote Centers will be open from 7:00 am – 8:00 pm.

The number of Voter Centers within each county is based on the number of voters in each city, according to Orange County’s Election Administration Plan. Each city is assigned one Vote Center per every 10,000 registered voters within the city.

“OCROV plans to provide more vote centers than the minimum requirements. Orange County will operate 38 vote centers open for 11 days, including Election Day, and 188 vote centers that will be open for 4 days, including Election Day, in Orange County,” according to The Orange County Registrar of Voters website.

Considering the ongoing global health crisis, California is adding another layer of safety to voting in 2020.

With the passage of Assembly Bill 860, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on June 18, all voters in California will have access to the state’s Vote-by-Mail option.

The provisions within AB 860 require, “that county elections officials must mail a ballot to every registered, active voter ahead of the November 3, 2020 General Election,” according to Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State.

Not only does vote-by-mail address public health concerns over COVID-19, it is also a direct reflection of what Orange County voters want.

“In fact, turnout for [the March 3, 2020] election (50.1%) was the highest for a presidential primary election since 2000. Additionally, 82% of voters opted to vote by mail as opposed to 18% choosing to vote at an in-person voting location,” according to a report conducted by OCROV.

Per state law, vote-by-mail ballots are to be mailed out no later than 29-days prior to the election. Orange County residents should expect Vote-By-Mail ballots in early October.

As Orange County residents prepare to vote in 2020, the OC Registrar Of Voters will be providing voters with essential tools for digital ballot tracking, locating Vote Centers, and identify accessible drive-thru ballot drop-off locations.

“From voting at home, drive-thru ballot drop-off, in-person options, returning your ballot via the United States Postal Service, or personally deliver your ballot to us – the choice is yours,” – OC Registrar of Voters website

Vote-by-Mail Ballots Returns

Here’s a list of Ballot return location options in Irvine:

  • Vote Center Drop-off (Locations to be determined and available once finalized)
  • U.S. Postal Office or Mailbox (Link to locations)
  • Ballot Drop Boxes
    • Harvard Community Park, 14701 Harvard Avenue
    • Heritage Community Park, 14301 Yale Avenue
    • Irvine Metrolink Station, 15215 Barranca Parkway #1
    • Rancho Senior Center, 3 Ethel Coplen Way
    • Trabuco Center, 5701 Trabuco Road
    • Turtle Rock Community Park, 1 Sunnyhill Drive
    • Woodbury Community Park, 130 Sanctuary

While there’s still time for candidates to win over their constituents, there will be plenty to track in both the Irvine City Council and mayor contests.

There are 14 candidates running to fill only two City Council seats – the seat of Melissa Fox who is running for state Assembly and the seat of appointed Councilman Mike Carroll, who is running for election to the seat. Carroll was appointed to fill the seat when a vacancy on the council occurred because Don Wagner was elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Be sure to check out Irvine Weekly’s Candidate Preview for Irvine Elections 2020.