With the Democratic and Republican conventions over, and local candidates’ signs popping up in neighborhoods and business corridors, election season has sprung again. But campaigning hasn’t been limited to the support or opposition to people or policies—the act of voting itself has become an issue.
Forty-three states, encompassing three-quarters of Americans, will conduct the November general election via mail-in balloting. That’s not new for Butte County, which used this system for the March 3 primary. But elsewhere, including other California counties, coronavirus restrictions prompted the change from in-person polling places.
Fear-mongerers have gone wild. President Trump has repeatedly cast aspersions on the integrity of the process even though he has voted by mail—in fact, he and First Lady Melania Trump requested mail-in ballots for last month’s Florida primary (their registered address being the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach)—while opposing efforts to provide pandemic relief funds to the U.S. Postal Service. Memes flood social media feeds. Among the most-shared tropes: “If you won the lottery, would you mail in the ticket or go in person?”
Even media outlets have fed into the hysteria, exemplified by a “vote-by-mail” experiment from CBS News in July asserting that staggered deliveries represented, as its website headline declares, “potential problems within [the] postal voting system ahead of [the] November election.” Amplifying such fears is news that USPS has removed sorting machines and blue boxes since President Trump appointed new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in June.
All this furor frustrates Candace Grubbs, Butte County’s registrar, who’s overseen elections since taking office in January 1987. She told the CN&R last Friday (Aug. 28) that she’s never found an instance of fraud; the worst “mischief” has been one family member voting on behalf of others, which her office ascertained through its process of checking signatures.
Grubbs’ staff will count every ballot postmarked by election day, Nov. 3, that gets delivered up to 17 days later. Ballots go to print this week and will reach voters by early October—plenty of time. Those who feel uneasy about the mail can use Elections Office drop boxes, which will be situated at city halls, county libraries and voter assistance centers.
“It baffles me the amount of misinformation and the things people believe,” Grubbs told the CN&R. We agree. This paper has consistently endorsed Grubbs for re-election because of her demonstrated commitment to fair elections. She is a Republican who ensures her office remains nonpartisan—and we raise her political affiliation only because it underscores our mystification that any local Republicans would doubt a process she directs.
If you’re worried about your vote, or even if you’re not, check your registration status now (and check your ballot status after mailing it) at voterstatus.sos.ca.gov. Grubbs said the postal service cannot forward elections mail, so if her office does not have your correct address, you won’t receive a ballot. Also, Chicoans should check their district (chico.ca.us/district-information), since not all residents will vote for City Council this election.
We encourage everyone follow this advice from Grubbs: “Stay off of social media and trust in the system.”