Guest Commentary: Keeping Democracy Alive during the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Jesse Salinas

Life has certainly changed for all of us. I am so grateful for all the volunteers and essential workers who are making sure we have food, health care and supplies. During this global pandemic, we have seen an unprecedented united effort to identify needs, provide vital services, take care of the sick, and do our individual part to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

It was just over a month ago that we conducted the 2020 Presidential Primary Election as news of this highly contagious and deadly disease COVID-19 was continuing to spread around the world, including into the United States and California. During the week before the election, ACE staff took precautionary measures to protect our voters, poll workers and staff. We followed guidelines and recommendations set forth from the County Health Department and provided hand sanitizers and infographics to every polling place.

We had another successful Election Day and canvassing process despite numerous cancellations of poll workers and staffing issues due to the virus. We have since certified the election, ahead of the 21-day extension issued by Governor Newsom. We now turn our attention to the November 3rd, 2020 election. It is abundantly clear that the world will not be the same after COVID-19 and one of those predicted changes is that poll workers and voters will not feel as safe as they once did at a polling place in November.

Although the Federal Government has provided the nation $400 million to conduct the November 2020 election, under these new health and safety standards, it is merely a down payment on democracy. According to an estimate from the Brennan Center, the nation needs $1.5 to $2 billion to cover COVID-19 related election costs in the upcoming election.

It is imperative that we keep the November 3rd, 2020 election on schedule and keep democracy alive and well; however, we need to continue to put health and public safety first. My plan is to work with Registrars across the state and our local leaders to conduct the upcoming election by mailing a Vote by Mail ballot to every voter. The Elections Office is exploring possible options for some type of in-person voting and assistance. What we will be able to offer will be dictated in consultation with our County Public Health Officer and public health and safety guidelines.

We will continue to do whatever is in our power to make sure that anyone who is eligible and wants to vote, can vote. Voters, you can also help! It is imperative that you keep your registration up to date. Ensure that you are registered at your current address under your current name. If you move, be sure to re-register. You can easily do so online at http://www.registertovote.ca.gov. Register to vote before the October 19th, 2020 deadline. Sign up for Informed Delivery, a free service from the United States Postal Service. With Informed Delivery, a photo of the mail you receive daily is emailed to you by USPS. Sign up at informeddelivery.usps.com. Also, please pay attention to the mail being delivered to your home, especially your ballot and other mail from the Elections Office. In November, the Elections Office will also be offering BallotTrax, a service that tracks the status of your mail-in ballot and sends a series of alerts to each voter notifying you where your ballot is in the election process. You can sign up to receive notifications via text, email, or voice alerts. BallotTrax brings further transparency to the election process and we are excited to be piloting it within Yolo County in the upcoming election. You can learn more at ballottrax.com.

Get information and updates on Elections from trusted and verified sources, including our Elections website www.yoloelections.org and our social media accounts: Facebook: @YoloACE, Instagram: @YoloCoACE, and Twitter: @YoloCoACE.

The weeks and months ahead will not be easy. These are challenging times that will take creativity, patience and cooperation. This is our new reality, but we will not let it deter our resolve to conduct the November 3rd, 2020 election. Working with our voters, election partners and communities, I am certain we can continue to conduct the November election with integrity and accuracy.


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About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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2 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    As a first time polling place Inspector, I want to express my appreciation for Jesse Salinas and his team who provided education and real-time support to their poll workers in the days leading up to and on election day. Throughout the inevitable glitches of a very complicated election process ( the primaries)  they provided support both telephone and in-person support as needed. Their dedication to allowing all eligible to vote to do so, including same-day registration and last-minute party preference changes, was very reassuring.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Thank you, Tia… Jesse and his team (fostered by his predecessors, Tony and Freddie) are indeed great folk, doing great work…

      Thank you for your service… I too, ended up being an inspector (aka poll place chief) first time out… ~ 26 years ago… it’s kinda’ like jury duty… slightly better paid, but critically important… yes, March elections, with the new ‘conditional ballots’ (same day/’late’ registration) was ‘interesting’ for even veteran poll-workers… you, all poll-workers, elections staff, and Jesse deserve kudos… thank you for providing those…

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