So much has been said about the process of registering to vote and the myriad ways to cast a ballot that many people are left scratching their heads. The Nov. 3 election — which includes the presidential contest, legislative seats, statewide issues and myriad local candidates and measures — is garnering unprecedented attention with so much at stake in this tumultuous year.

With that in mind — and with the deadline for online registering in California fast approaching on Monday, Oct. 19 — here’s a primer on how people can be sure to get registered and the options for voting.


GENERAL QUESTIONS

For starters, California residents can find the answers to most voting questions at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/voting-california.

The voting process varies from county to county. Those needing to contact their county elections office, but aren’t sure how, can find the information at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/county-elections-offices. Or click on the buttons on this site to find information specifically for you in the following counties:


REGISTERING TO VOTE

To vote, one must register, which people can do online through Oct. 19, by going to https://covr.sos.ca.gov/. Those who aren’t sure whether they’re already registered can check at https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/​. Registration information, including where you live, can also be updated there.

Anyone who is unsure about their eligibility can go to https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/voting-california/who-can-vote-california​. 

Even after the registration deadline passes, voters can still register for most elections by visiting their county elections office, a vote center or their polling place during the 14 days prior to the election, including Election Day itself. A list of early voting locations where residents can complete the same-day voter registration process and cast a provisional ballot is available at ​caearlyvoting.sos.ca.gov​. Or, click on the buttons on this site to find information specifically for you in the following counties:


HOW TO VOTE

Once registered, Californians have the option of voting in person, by mail, or by dropping their ballot off at a polling place or designated drop box. And it isn’t necessary to wait until Election Day.

“All citizens in California will be able to vote safe this fall,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement. “Elections officials are expanding voting-by-mail and ballot tracking tools statewide, while also offering safe in-person early voting and Election Day options.”

Residents can see whether and where their county offers early voting — and find drop-off locations — by going to https://caearlyvoting.sos.ca.gov/. Or, click on the buttons on this site to find information specifically for you in the following counties:


POLLING PLACES

The location of polling places is on the back of the voter information guide sent to all registered voters. Anyone who hasn’t received the booklet in the mail can contact their county elections office (​https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/county-elections-offices​) or call ​the secretary of state’s toll-free voter hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683). Or, click on the buttons on this site to find information specifically for you in the following counties:

The county elections office can help residents locate their polling place, and that information is also available at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/polling-place?referringSource=articleShare.


MAIL-IN OPTION

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, California began sending mail-in ballots to all registered voters in early October. Ballots can be returned by mail (postage already paid); in person at a polling place or the county elections office; or to a designated drop box, the locations of which are specified by each county. Ballots must be in by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, and they must be received by the county elections office no later than 17 days after Election Day.

Mail-in ballots must be signed and dated.

Once sent, mail-in ballots can be tracked at ​https://california.ballottrax.net/voter/​.


IN-PERSON VOTING

For those planning to vote in person this year, COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place. That means voters will be required to wear a mask and observe social distancing by staying 6 feet or more away from other voters and poll workers.

A list of frequently asked question and answers about elections in California is available at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/frequently-asked-questions.

To keep up with the latest development, use this Voter Information Hub as a resource guide and contact us if you have feedback or questions.