County advises residents on how to vote safely in election

County advises residents on how to vote safely in election
A secure ballot drop-off box located at El Cerrito City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave. (Photo credit: Kathy Chouteau)

By Kathy Chouteau

Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) is offering its recommendations for voting safely during election season to protect against contracting or transmitting COVID-19.

Tops on County health officials’ list of how to vote safely is voting by mail. “Voting by mail is the safest voting option as it limits contact with others outside of a voter’s household. The County is making voting by mail easy this year by sending every voter a mail-in ballot and paying for first-class return postage,” CCHS said in a statement.

The process of voting by mail starts with confirming you’re registered to vote by the state’s Monday, Oct. 19 deadline so you can receive your ballot by mail. After the deadline, registration must be completed in person at one of the County’s early voting sites or in Martinez at the Elections Division.

Upon receipt of a ballot, voters can complete and return it either by mail or by depositing it in one of 37 outdoor ballot drop-boxes countywide. The white drop-boxes can be found at the following locations in Richmond: Richmond City Hall, 450 Civic Center Plaza; the Contra Costa County EHSD—Richmond, 1305 Macdonald Ave.; and the West County Wastewater District Office, 2910 Hilltop Dr. Find other drop-box locations here.

Ballots must be dropped off by 8 p.m. on Election Day Tues., Nov. 3 or postmarked by that day; voters will be given 17 extra days from the County for their ballots to arrive as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. 

Want to be sure your ballot ended up in the right place? Voters can sign up to receive notifications about when their ballot is mailed, received, and counted by visiting The My Voting Information tool can also be used to confirm if a ballot has been issued or received by the elections office.

Clerk-Recorder Deborah Cooper, the County’s top elections official, is urging voters to vote by mail and “reserve in-person voting for those that require in-person services.”

“All of our in-person voting locations will follow health protocols, which may cause delays and lines due to social distancing. The easiest and fastest way to vote is to vote with the ballot that we send to you,” she added.

Naturally, anyone planning to vote in-person will be required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing; the County will provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to voters who don’t have it. To add to the safety measures during the election, the County will have sanitizer available at the entry and exit of all in-person polling places and will be sanitizing its equipment regularly.

County officials also advise voters to review their ballots in advance and be ready to vote per their preference when they arrive, so as to spend less time at the polling place.

For more info on voting in Contra Costa County, click here.