2020 Election

California election officials tell voters not to disinfect mail-in ballots

THE SEA RANCH, CALIFORNIA - October 21, 2018: Voting ballot: Absentee voting by mail with ballot envelope. Absentee voting is voting-by-mail and allows voters who cannot visit the polls on Election Day, to cast their ballot by the US mail.

Election officials in California are reminding voters who are fearful of contracting COVID-19 not to disinfect their mail-in ballots.

A handful of Sacramento County voters dropped off a “ruined ballot” because they had attempted to clean it with a liquid sanitizer, Janna Haynes, Sacramento County public information officer, told Fox News in an email on Monday.

“Voters do not need to be wary of covid-19 exposure on their ballot paper or any of the contents inside their mailed envelope,” Haynes said.

Officials say the risk of exposure on a paper surface is low. Additionally, the ballot paper inside the mailer has been “untouched for at least a week from the time it was stuffed, taken to USPS and in transit to your mailbox.”

And not only is this step unnecessary but it could cost voters their vote, officials cautioned.

If a high alcohol content liquid — like hand sanitizer — is used, it can smear the ink on the page which would make the ballot “unreadable,” Haynes added.

For those who dropped off destroyed ballots, officials were able to provide them with a new ballot and void the ruined one so they could still vote.

In the event that a submitted ballot is unreadable but has been separated from its identifying envelope, which Haynes says happens early in the process to maintain anonymity, they have safeguards in place.

Haynes stressed that this information is important because “as always, we want every vote to count.”

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