Still hanging on to your California mail-in ballot?
Don’t worry. You can still make sure it’s counted.
During a normal election year, you’d have to apply to vote by mail. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order earlier this year to automatically send all eligible voters a mail-in ballot so they could vote while maintaining a physical distance from others.
With so many ballots expected to arrive via mail, elections offices are also accepting ballots up to 17 days after the election, as long as they are postmarked on Election Day.
“California elections officials prioritize the right to vote and election security over rushing the vote count,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said on Oct. 29. “To prepare our election for the COVID-19 pandemic we have taken several steps to protect voters. Every active, registered voter was mailed a ballot. We also extended the time for vote-by-mail ballots to arrive to county elections offices. Ballots postmarked on or before Election Day can arrive up until November 20 and still be processed and counted.”
In the primary election, however, some Californians cut it too close.
To be on the safe side, you have plenty of other options today:
1. You can bring your ballot to a polling place on Tuesday between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Be sure to sign and date the envelope. Find a polling place here.
2. You can turn your ballot in to the county elections office, no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.
3. You can drop it off at a ballot box on Tuesday before that 8 p.m. deadline. A list of locations accepting ballots was included with your ballot.
4. Someone else can also turn in your ballot for you, but be sure to fill out the authorization information on the outside of the envelope.
5. If you want to vote in person instead, you can bring your blank ballot to your local polling place on Election Day and exchange it for an on-site ballot.
6. If all else fails and you do not have your mail-in ballot, you can still visit a polling place on Tuesday and fill out a so-called “provisional ballot.” Your vote will only be counted after an elections official has confirmed your eligibility and cross-checks that you have not already voted.
From there, you can check the status of your ballot by visiting the California Secretary of State’s “My Voter Status” page.
“All valid vote-by-mail ballots are counted in every election in California,” the agency’s website includes, “regardless of the outcome or closeness of any race.”
Hannah Wiley, The Sacramento Bee