How do I vote in my state in the 2020 election?


How do I register to vote? Submit an online application or one on paper. Paper applications can be picked up at county elections offices, libraries, the DMV, or U.S. post offices. You can also ask for a voter registration application to be mailed to you by either calling 1800-345-VOTE (8683) or emailing the Elections Division staff with this link. You will need to re-register to vote if you have changed your name or want to change your party affiliation.

Am I already registered? Check here to see if you’re registered to vote. Some counties allow you to check the status of your voter registration through their websites. You can also call the county to find out your current status. Contact information for California’s county offices is here.

What is required to register and what’s the deadline? You must be a U.S. citizen, a California resident, 18 years or older on Election Day, not currently in a state or federal prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony, and not currently found by a court to be mentally incompetent to vote. Here is information on voting rights for those with a criminal history, and here’s more information for those subject to conservatorship.

The deadline to register to vote is 15 days before Election Day, October 19. Your online application must be submitted by then, and if you’re submitting a paper application by mail, it must be postmarked by October 19.

California offers same-day registration but requires voters who have missed the deadline to complete the application process at county elections offices, polling places, or vote centers. To find your county elections office click here. Voting centers are only available in 15 counties this year. To see if there’s one in your county, click here. To find your polling location click here. 

How can I vote? You can vote in person on November 3. You may also vote by mail and if you’re a registered voter, you’ll get your ballot in the mail automatically starting on October 5, 2020.

How do I get a mail-in ballot? If you’re a registered voter, you will automatically receive a ballot in the mail. Ballots will be mailed out to registered voters beginning on October 5, 2020. Mail-in ballots come with pre-paid postage. You may request a vote-by-mail ballot up to seven days before Election Day but must do it in person and make sure it’s returned on time. 

What’s the earliest I can vote and what’s the deadline? You can vote as soon as you get your ballot in the mail. In 15 counties that are participating in the new Voters Choice Act this year, you can vote in person ten days before Election Day. Mailed ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than 17 days post-Election Day. You can also personally deliver your ballot to a voting center, polling location, or county election office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. 

Can I vote in person?  Yes, you can vote in person on November 3 between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. If you received a mail-in ballot, you will need to bring it to the voting location and exchange it for a polling place ballot. If you don’t have your vote-by-mail ballot, you can cast a provisional ballot at a county elections office, polling location, or vote center. To find your polling location click here. Fifteen counties are also participating in the new Voters Choice Act this year, which allows early in-person voting ten days ahead of Election Day. To see if your county is participating in the VCA, click here.

If you are voting for the first time in person, it is a good idea to bring a form of ID. Poll workers may ask to see your ID if you mailed your registration application and did not include your driver’s license number, California ID number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Here is a complete list of acceptable ID documents.  

Will I know if it’s rejected and can I correct it? Yes and yes. You can sign-up for a ballot tracking tool and receive emails, texts, or phone calls when your ballot has been mailed, received, counted, and if there are any issues. If there are issues, like a missing or unverifiable signature, you will be notified that you can cast a provisional ballot, giving officials more time to review and verify your voter status. 

Who counts my vote and when do they start? Your local county elections office will count your vote. They will begin counting on Election Day, but counties are allowed to process vote-by-mail ballots seven business days in advance. That means they can start to verify the signature on the return envelopes and tally the number of votes that have been cast. They cannot tabulate the results until after the polls have closed at 8 p.m. on Election Day.  

How do I sign up to be a poll worker? Registered voters, legal residents who would be eligible to vote if they were citizens, and eligible students in high school can sign up to be poll workers. The application can be found here.

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