All registered voters in California can now sign up for a new online tool to track the status of their mail-in ballots for the November general election, the California Secretary of State's office announced this week.
Where's My Ballot? Track Your Mail-In Vote With New Tool
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Voters who sign up for the "Where's My Ballot?" system can receive automated notifications via email, text or phone when their county elections offices have mailed out their ballots — and when completed ballots have been received and processed.
Alerts will also be sent to voters whose returned ballots have any issues that could prevent them from being processed.
“Signing up for ‘Where’s My Ballot?’ is one of the best steps voters can take to prepare for the General Election,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement. “With every active, registered voter receiving a vote-by-mail ballot this fall, ballot tracking will be a critical part of our election planning as we continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic.”
How 'Where's My Ballot?' Works
First introduced ahead of the state primary in March, the tool was only initially available to voters in the 25 counties that had opted to participate. It has since been expanded to all 58 counties under AB 860, a statewide measure passed in June requiring local elections officials to mail ballots to every registered voter and adopt a ballot tracking system.
The tool is developed by BallotTrax, a Denver-based software company contracted by the Secretary of State's office. It tracks the status of each ballot based on a unique barcode, officials say, emphasizing that a person's actual vote is completely confidential.
Changes and Deadlines
Absentee voting has become increasingly popular in California. In the March primary, a record 72% of ballots were received by mail. And that figure is only expected to jump in the upcoming general election, with more voters likely to stay home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The expansion of the tracking tool also comes amid ongoing threats by the Trump administration to significantly shrink funding for the U.S. Postal Service, sparking concerns among absentee voters that their ballots might not be received on time.
In light of delivery concerns, AB 860 requires county election officials to accept mail-in ballots for 17 days after the Nov. 3 election — up from the previous requirement of three days — as long as they're postmarked by Election Day.
The measure also allows counties to begin counting ballots 29 days before Election Day, up from 10 days.