California law provides for permanent vote by mail status for voters. These provisions are contained in Division 3, Chapter 3. Section 3200 provides that a voter who qualifies under this chapter is entitled to become a permanent vote by mail voter.
Section 3201 authorizes any voter to apply for permanent vote by mail status. Application for permanent vote by mail status is be made in accordance with the law. The voter is required to complete an application, which is available from the county elections official, and which must contain all of the following:
- The applicant’s name at length.
- The applicant’s residence address.
- The address where the ballot is to be mailed, if different from the place of residence.
- The signature of the applicant.
Section 3202 provides that any voter may execute a request for permanent vote by mail status by making a written request to the county elections official requesting the status. If a written request is received by the county elections official and it contains the required information, the elections official is required to process that application.
Section 3203 requires, upon receipt of an application for permanent vote by mail status, the county elections official to process the application in the same manner as an application for a vote by mail ballot.
If it is determined that the applicant is a registered voter, the county elections official is required to do the following:
- Place the voter’s name upon a list of those to whom a vote by mail ballot is sent each time there is an election within their precinct.
- Include in all vote by mail mailings to the voter an explanation of the vote by mail procedure.
- Maintain a copy of the vote by mail ballot list on file open to public inspection for election and governmental purposes.
Section 3204 requires the county elections official to send a copy of the list of all voters who qualify as permanent vote by mail voters to each city elections official or district elections official charged with the duty of conducting an election within the county. The list must be sent by the sixth day before an election.
Section 3205 provides that vote by mail ballots mailed to, and received from, voters on the permanent vote by mail voter list are subject to the same deadlines and are processed and counted in the same manner as all other vote by mail ballots.
Prior to each partisan primary election, county elections officials are required to mail to every voter who has declined to disclose a preference for a political party whose name appears on the permanent vote by mail voter list a notice and application regarding voting in the primary election. The notice informs the voter that he or she may request a vote by mail ballot for a particular political party for the primary election.
In addition, the application must contain a checkoff box with a conspicuously printed statement that reads substantially similar to the following: “I have declined to disclose a preference for a qualified political party. However, for this primary election only, I request a vote by mail ballot for the ____ Party.” The name of the political party is then personally affixed by the voter.
Section 3206 specifies that a voter whose name appears on the permanent vote by mail voter list must remain on the list and be mailed a vote by mail ballot for each election conducted within the precinct in which he or she is eligible to vote. If the voter fails to return an executed vote by mail ballot in four consecutive statewide general elections, then the voter’s name is deleted from the list.
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