CALIFORNIA—California Governor Gavin Newsom decided to sign a bill into law on Thursday, August 6, which decreases the number of in-person polling stations, so less people are put at risk of catching the Coronavirus.
Up to this point, almost 10,000 California residents have been killed by the virus, which can be spread more rapidly, when a large group of people are gathered together in one area together, especially if it’s enclosed.
This is also an effort by more states to encourage mail-in balloting as an alternative option.
Regardless of who receives their ballots in the mail, however, many people may be forced to vote in person after all, due to various reasons, such as their ballots being damaged or lost in the mail, needing assistance because of a language barrier, or having a disability and possibly needing to register to vote the day they cast their ballot.
Before the signing of this bill, the number of polling stations has already decreased dramatically. For example, Sacramento had 84 locations that people could go vote. That number has been cut by more than half for the November elections, according to Janna Haynes, a spokesperson for the county.
These locations include anywhere from community centers to nursing homes and even people’s garages. School gymnasiums have also been utilized before.
They will be allowed to merge precincts, as long as they maintain a ratio of one precinct for every 10,000 voters registered in the state. In the past, the ratio has been one precinct for every 1,000.
Additionally, these more centralized polling locations are required to be open from October 31 to November 2, for a period of, at least, eight hours, and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Some Republicans opposed the bill Newsom signed, making the argument that these decisions could end up confusing voters on which polling stations might be open.