California’s chief election officer wants you to return your mail ballot early.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office began sending out emails to voters on Tuesday encouraging them not to wait to send back their ballots.

Every registered voter in California should have received a mail ballot by now, the message says, and returning them early “will help ensure safe physical distancing at voting locations.”

The California state department started sending out the emails a day after the agency ordered Republicans to remove the unofficial ballot drop boxes that they’ve admitted to placing throughout California.

“Our interest is in protecting the integrity of this election,” said Padilla, who’s a Democrat.

The GOP has refused to remove the drop boxes, arguing that state law doesn’t specify a ban on collecting ballots in a box.

County election officials, including in L.A., Orange and Ventura counties, are now urging voters to drop off their ballots at official drop boxes by the Nov. 3 deadline. Alternatively, ballots could be returned via mail–no stamp necessary.

The Secretary of State’s Office also reminded voters to seal, sign and date their ballots. The signature should match the one provided when registering, typically the signature that appears on a voter’s driver’s license, the department said.

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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