Here is what you need to know in order to make sure you're registered and have your ballot counted before the 2022 California primary on June 7.
Who Can Register To Vote In California?
California residents over the age of 18 can visit the California State online voter registration page. There are options for registering to vote in Spanish, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and more. Voters can also register in person at their county elections office or pick up a paper registration from your local library, DMV office, or U.S. Post Office. Residents aged 16 and 17 can pre-register to vote; once they turn 18, they can cast a ballot.
What Do I Need To Register?
Residents will need to provide their full name, birthday, and last four digits of their social security number. Applicants with a California Identification card or driver's license will be asked to input their information.
What If I Don’t Have An Identification Card?
California residents who do not have a state identification card or driver’s license will have to print out or request to be mailed a paper form after completing registration. The form must be signed and sent back to their county’s election office. Your signature will then be added to the voter registration record.
What If You Aren't Living In California?
California residents living abroad, stationed overseas in the military, or temporarily residing outside of the state can register to vote online and request an absentee ballot.
What Are The Voter Registration Deadlines?
This year’s California voter registration deadline is May 23. If registering online, the application must be completed by midnight. Even if the application was started prior to the deadline, any online application submitted after the deadline will not be accepted. Registrations through the mail must be postmarked by May 23 to be accepted.
How Do I Get Approved To Vote?
Filling out an application online is not the final step. Your county’s election office will still have to verify your application and signature before you can vote. If your application is missing anything, your county’s election office will contact you for extra information. Once you’re approved to vote, the election office will contact you to let you know.
What If I Miss The Registration Deadline?
Californians can conditionally register to vote any time after the deadline and on election day. Residents can conditionally register at their county elections office, polling place, or vote center with the last four digits of their Social Security number and either their state-issued ID card or driver's license. Eligible residents with no state-issued identification card will need to provide their full Social Security number to register.
How Will I Get A Vote-By-Mail Ballot?
Under a new state law, all active, registered voters will receive a mail-in ballot in early May (Active means you’ve participated in recent elections). Counties must send those out by May 9 and they are expected to arrive a few days later.
Voters can also contact their county elections office to become a permanent vote-by-mail voter. That will ensure they receive a mail-in ballot for all future elections.
What Happens If My Vote-By-Mail Ballot Is Lost Or Stolen?
You can request a second vote-by-mail ballot if your original is lost, stolen or destroyed. Contact your county elections office to be sent another ballot. Counties are able to "cancel out" lost or stolen ballots using a statewide voter registration database called VoteCal, according to Kim Alexander of the California Voter Foundation.
How Do I Fill Out My Ballot?
Fill out your mail-in ballot and place it in the secure envelope. Make sure you sign the outside of your ballot envelope. Election officials match your signature with the one on file to verify your identity.
Watch for common mistakes before you turn in your ballot. A recent study said the most common reasons mail-in ballots get rejected include: returning them too late, forgetting to sign the ballot envelope and signatures that don’t match the one on file.
What Happens If My Ballot Is Rejected?
Former California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law in 2018 that requires election officials to notify voters at least eight days before the certification of the election when they reject a signature and give them a chance to provide a valid one. During the March 2020 primary, 27,525 mail-in ballots either didn’t have a signature, or the signature didn’t match the one on record for the voter, the Associated Press reported.
Altogether, more than 100,000 mail-in ballots were rejected by election officials, the vast majority because they missed the deadline for the ballot to arrive.
How Do I Return My Ballot?
There are a few options:
- Drop it in any U.S. Postal Service mailbox.
- Use any designated ballot drop box. Those are typically located at libraries and community centers.
You can also return your mail-in ballot in-person at your county elections office or any vote center or polling place. More information about specific locations is available on the California Secretary of State’s website or by contacting your county elections office.
When Do I Need To Return My Ballot?
Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by election day. Counties are required to count ballots 7 days after election day, as long as they are postmarked on or before June 7. If you are using a mailbox, make sure you check the pickup time listed on the box. If the mail has already been picked up, your ballot won’t be delivered on June 7 and therefore it won’t be postmarked or counted.
Can I Track The Status Of My Vote-By-Mail Ballot?
Yes. The Secretary of State’s Office offers the ‘Where’s My Ballot?’ tracking service. Voters can track and receive notifications on each step of the process from when the ballot has been delivered to you to when the completed ballot has been received by your county.
To sign up, visit: WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov
How Do I Find My Polling Place?
Your polling location will be listed on the sample ballot mailed by your county elections office. You can also contact your county elections office to ask for the location. Here is a map of voting locations in Sacramento County.
Do I Need To Bring My Vote-By-Mail Ballot?
Election officials strongly recommended that you do. They say bringing in your mail-in ballot will speed up the process for voters and elections workers. If your county uses traditional polling places and not vote centers, your in-person vote will be provisional unless you bring your ballot. Even if your county does use vote centers, officials still encourage you to surrender your mail-in ballot if voting in-person.
Do I Need To Show ID?
Most Californians do not have to show an ID when they vote. But they do have to sign their name in the roster at their polling place or vote center and do so under penalty of perjury, according to the California Voter Foundation. First-time voters who registered through the mail must provide a form of identification. That can be a driver’s license or state-issued ID, a school identification card with the person’s photo, a utility bill, the voter guide they received in the mail, or any other form of government correspondence that shows their name and address.
What If I Don't Have A Polling Place?
If you live in certain counties (such as Sacramento) your traditional polling place may be replaced by a Vote Center. These are part of a new election model adopted by select counties statewide. The model limits the number of traditional polling places in favor of the vote centers, which are open longer and allow anyone registered in their county to vote in person or drop off a mail-in ballot.
Some vote center locations open 10 days before Election Day, while the rest open four days prior, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
What Can I Do At A Vote Center?
At any vote center in a participating county, a voter may:
- Vote in-person
- Drop off their ballot
- Get a replacement ballot
- Vote using an accessible voting machine
- Get help and voting material in multiple languages
- Register to vote or update their voter registration
How Late Can I Vote In Person?
You must be in line at the polling place or voting center by 8 p.m. on election day in order to register and cast your ballot. The registration process can take some time, so arrive early if possible.
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