Register to vote
If you’re unsure if you’re registered to vote, check your status first. You can register to vote online here . You can register in person through Election Day, Nov. 3. For other methods, the deadline to register is Oct. 19.
Request an absentee ballot
In California, you will automatically be mailed a ballot.
Ballots are mailed starting Oct. 5.
Fill out your ballot
Ballots will start being automatically sent to all active voters in California by Oct. 5.
Mailed ballots need more than your vote. Most require at least one signature and can’t have any stray marks. They must be sent back in the envelope provided.
Here’s a more detailed guide on how to make sure your ballot is counted. Be sure to follow the instructions that accompanied your ballot and contact your local election officials with any questions.
Return your ballot
Your ballot can be returned at a dropbox, in person or by mail by you or a third party. Prepaid return postage for ballots is guaranteed in California.
Ballots must be dropped off in person or postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by mail no later than Nov. 20. Check with local officials for specific times. The U.S. Postal Service recommends voters mail their ballot at least one week prior to the state deadline, by Oct. 27.
You can track your ballot’s status here .
Don’t wait too long! The U.S. Postal Service sent a warning to the California Secretary of State that ballots could be delayed for a narrow set of voters.
Your ballot is verified and counted
From identifying information and tracking bar codes on your ballot to signatures, a lot has gone into making sure your vote is accurate and will count by the time your ballot is returned.
In California, the signature submitted with your ballot will be checked against what election officials have on file. For certain problems with your ballot, election officials are required to contact you and offer you a chance to “cure” it so it can be counted.
Absentee ballots may start being processed Oct. 5 and formally counted after polls close on Election Day. Dates can vary based on jurisdiction size or the number of mail ballots sent.
Casting a ballot in person
In California, early voting is offered from Oct. 5 to Nov. 2, but varies by county. And you can always vote on Election Day, Nov. 3. Be sure to check your voting location ahead of time.
You’ll be required to show identification if you’re a first-time voter who didn’t provide identification during registration. Wearing a mask to vote in person is strongly encouraged.
If you received a ballot in the mail but decide you want to vote in person, you can — but you may be required to take an additional action, such as surrendering your ballot, signing an affidavit or casting a provisional ballot. Contact your local election officials for details.
You’re all set
You can visit California’s election website for more details on voting. If you have any questions or issues or need to check the status of your provisional ballot contact your local elections officials.
Want to learn how to register to vote or vote in person? You can with different choices.
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About this story
Editing by Reuben Fischer-Baum and Ann Gerhart. Copy editing by Briana R. Ellison and Brian Cleveland. Additional development by Lucio Villa. Illustrations by Abbey Lossing. Susan Berger, Mark Kreidler, Alan Neuhauser and Annette Nevins contributed to this report.
Voting information for this project was collected from official sources, including secretaries of state, county clerks and written election codes. In some cases, The Post used news reports, court opinions and published research from sources such as the National Conference of State Legislatures to check or verify details.
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