Q: I have received a mail-in ballot, but prefer to vote in person. What do I need to bring?

-J.L., Inglewood

Ron Sokol

A: In most cases, California voters are not required to show identification to a polling place worker. If, however, you will be voting for the first time after registering to vote by mail, and you did not provide your driver’s license number, California identification number, or the last four of your social security number for the mail-in ballot, you may be asked to provide a form of identification when at the polling site. In that instance, bring identification with you, or include a copy of it when you display your vote-by-mail ballot. Examples of acceptable identification forms are the sample ballot booklet you received, a copy of a recent utility bill, your passport, driver’s license, or official state identification card.

Q: Voting by mail in California is perfectly legal, right?

-T.S., Culver City

A: Presently, 35 states allow voters the option to utilize mail-in ballots. For some locations, this is because of the coronavirus, but for others, it is largely for convenience. In fact, voting by mail has a fairly long history in the United States. Members of the military began using a distance-voting system to cast ballots during the Civil War. In the 1980s, California became the first state to permit voting by mail, so yes, it is legal here. In fact, in May, with the coronavirus surging, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that a vote-by-mail ballot be sent to each voter prior to the Nov. 3 election, in addition to offering in-person voting locations.

Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 35 years of experience. His column, which appears in print on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at ronsesq@gmail.com.

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