SACRAMENTO – The Secretary of State has issued reports on Same Day Voter Registration usage (known as Conditional Voter Registration in state law) and vote-by-mail ballot rejection rates from the November 3, 2020 General Election.
“California has spent years developing a voter centric model for elections—preparing us well for the challenges of voting during a pandemic,” Acting Secretary of State James Schwab said. “Even as vote-by-mail was expanded statewide, vote-by-mail ballot rejection rates continued to fall. Over 99.4% of vote-by-mail ballots cast were counted. More than a quarter million Californians took advantage of Same Day Voter Registration, ensuring they could vote in this historic election. The 2020 General Election was a success thanks to the close collaboration of county elections officials and community advocates, deployment of new tools like automatic ballot tracking, and a broad public education campaign to prepare voters.”
269,862 Californians took advantage of Same Day Voter Registration in the final 14 days of the 2020 General Election cycle.
99.44% of vote-by-mail ballots cast were accepted and counted by county elections officials, up from 98.55% from the March 3, 2020 Presidential Primary Election. This improved rate comes even as vote-by-mail usage increased from the primary to the general election. 86.65% of votes in the 2020 General Election were cast using vote-by-mail ballots, up from 72.08% in the 2020 Primary Election.
California has taken several steps to prevent vote-by-mail ballots from being rejected. AB 860 allowed ballots—that were postmarked on or before Election Day—to arrive up to 17 days following the November 3, 2020 General Election and still be counted. During the March 3, 2020 Primary, ballots postmarked by Election Day had to arrive to county elections officials no later than 3 days after Election Day to be counted.
The Secretary of State’s office also launched the “Where’s My Ballot?” tracking tool in 2020. Voters who sign-up at WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov receive automatic notifications about their vote-by-mail ballots by email, text (SMS), or voice call. This includes notifications alerting voters if their ballots cannot be counted due to a missing or mismatched signature. Voters with a missing or mismatched signature can provide an updated to signature to have their ballots counted. Initially available in 25 counties during the 2020 Primary, the tool is now available statewide. Five million Californians have signed up for “Where’s My Ballot?”.
An unprecedented nonpartisan public education campaign—including social media, traditional ads, and direct emails to voters—also aimed to prepare millions of Californians to vote by mail during the pandemic.
Same Day Voter Registration
2020 was the first year that Same Day Voter Registration was available at every voting location in the state. Californians who needed to register or re-register to vote less than 15 days before Election Day could go to any polling place, vote center, or county elections office to complete the Same Day Voter Registration process. Their ballots would then be counted after elections officials completed verifying and processing their registration.