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Regional Interests

San Francisco Opens New Outdoor Voting Center

Early voting in San Francisco is normally done inside City Hall, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city has created an outdoor voting center where voters can cast their ballots starting Monday, Oct. 5.

Located at 99 Grove Street in front of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the voting center features large tents with rows of voting machines.

Voters can also drive to the center and vote curbside without getting out of their vehicles.

“We want to make sure that people feel comfortable. If they need to vote early, they can come to this voting center,” Mayor London Breed said during a press conference Thursday. “If they want to vote on Election Day or drop off their ballots on Election Day, we’re going to have 588 locations all over the city.”

Health and safety protocols will be in place at all voting locations, including mandatory facial coverings, social distancing, and cleaning of machines throughout the day.

Also new this year, all registered voters in California will receive mail-in ballots — not just those who requested them. Ballots will start arriving as early as this weekend, according to San Francisco’s Director of the Department of Elections John Arntz.

“What this is really about is options,” state Sen. Scott Wiener said at Thursday’s press conference. “Everyone has different concerns. Everyone has different health statuses or people in their homes with different health statuses, and we want people to be able to make choices that work for them.”

San Francisco voters can track the status of their ballot online through the city’s voter portal.

Mail-in ballots will need to be postmarked by Election Day and arrive at the county election’s offices within 17 days to be counted — that’s an extension of two additional weeks over the usual 3 days this year due to COVID-19 and post office delays.

For more information about how to vote this year, check out this KQED guide.

— Julie Chang (@bayareajulie)

Copyright 2020 KQED