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US election 2020: how to vote in California

California is mailing ballots to registered voters due to the covid-19 pandemic. This is what voters need to know ahead of the presidential election.

California is mailing ballots to registered voters due to the covid-19 pandemic. This is what voters need to know ahead of the presidential election.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to historic interest in mail-in voting for the US presidential election on 3 November. California is one of nine states automatically mailing ballots to registered voters this year, but mail delays have prompted officials to encourage that ballots be mailed back well before the deadline.

Voters can mail back their ballots or return them at official dropboxes. There are anti-fraud safeguards to make sure they are filled out by the right voter and that dropboxes are protected from tampering.

When will voters receive their mail-in ballots?

County elections officials began sending ballots to the 21 million Californian registered voters no later than 5 October. If you are an active registered voter, you don’t need to request a mail-in ballot for this election.

However, if you have moved or you haven’t voted in the last few elections, you will need to check your voter status to make sure you will receive a ballot in the mail.

If you are not an active voter, you will have to go to the California Online Voter Registration website and get registered. Then you will be able to request a mail-in ballot. Make sure to complete the process before the deadline (27 October).

Voters will be able to track the status of their mail-in ballots using the Ballottrax tool.

Can I still register to vote?

Yes, you have until 19 October to register online (check the California Online Voter Registration).

Mail-in voting is a safe alternative if you want to avoid going to an election office or polling place on Election Day. You can also register to vote by mailing in an application, which must be postmarked by 19 October.

If you somehow miss the 19 October deadline, the government of California allows residents to register and vote through Same Day Voter Registration, which will be available from 20 October until 3 November. After that, you will need to visit a polling place or county elections office to complete the registration process.

Is there any guide on how to vote?

The answer is yes, you can take a look at the online Official Voter Information Guide before you receive a printed one in your mail in the coming days.

If you want to check in detail this year’s ballot propositions, you can visit the 2020 Election Guide by CalMatters.

When do I need to return my ballot?

It depends. If you want to return your ballot by mail, it must be postmarked by 3 November and officials should receive it by 20 November. You should send in your ballot as early as possible in case there are postal delays.

Another option is dropping off your mail-in ballot at a polling place, county elections office or a county drop box anytime before 8 p.m. on Election Day.

You can also authorize someone to return the ballot on your behalf.

Keep in mind these four dates

- 5 October: County election officials began sending out mail-in ballots. Also, early in-person voting began.

- 19 October: The last day to submit voter registration applications online or by mail. You can still register to vote up to Election Day but you must go to your county elections office or polling place to register in person.

- 27 October: The deadline to request a mail-in ballot.

- 3 November: Election Day. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by this date.


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