Early voting is underway in California! There are almost too many options, and it can get a bit confusing. If you’re not used to absentee voting or some of the new Covid-19 restrictions, here’s how to find what you need to know. Key dates below.
You can register, request a new ballot, vote in person on Election Day
Again, your typical polling place is NOT open this year. Instead, more centralized centers will be operating. Registering and voting in person on Election Day, please do NOT wear any political-type clothing, hats, or signs. Save it for the ‘gram. Though it is highly dependent on who is working the polls, you could be turned away and that would suck.
Alameda County Accessible Voting Locations and Hours
Every voter should have been mailed a ballot. There are 100 Accessible Voting Location throughout Alameda County, which any voter can visit. This website has the map and city-by-city listings.
Accessible Voting Locations will open for voting for the four days leading up to and including election day (Go early if you can!):
- Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020 9 am to 5 pm
- Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020 9 am to 5 pm
- Monday, Nov. 2, 2020 9 am to 5 pm
- Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 – Election Day 7 am to 8 pm
Contra Costa County Accessible Voting Locations and Hours
Find this list of ‘regional early voting sites’ along with your early voting hours (below). The Election Day ‘polling places’ are greater in number and also on the same website.
- Friday, Oct. 30, 11 am – 7 pm
- Saturday, Oct. 31, 9 am – 5 pm
- NO SUNDAY IN COCO COUNTY
- Monday, Nov. 2, 11 am – 7 pm
- Hours on Election Day may vary by location — there are many!
Conditional voter registration is a safety net for Californians who miss the deadline to register to vote or update their voter registration information. Figure out what paperwork you need and find your polling location here >
Voting in the state of California: What’s on your ballot?
Whitney wants me to remind you that you don’t need to fully complete your ballot. If you feel overwhelmed by any part, and want to skip it, that’s ok. As long as you sign and seal your ballot correctly, it will be counted for whichever sections you filled in.
If you want to cast your vote on each item but still feel undecided, here are some trusted resources that will explain what each thing is:
CalMatters will break down the state props for you
Each California state proposition is explained here in a one-minute explainer video. See the playlist in the upper right to choose the ones you’re most curious about. These videos were created by CalMatters, a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.
Voter’s Edge will answer the rest of your ballot who’s who and what’s what questions
For more in-depth information about everything on your ballot from candidates and measures including who supports them with money, see Voter’s Edge. Voter’s Edge is a comprehensive, nonpartisan online guide to federal, state, and local elections in California (and also New York and Illinois if you have people there). Voter’s Edge can also prepare a personalized ballot you can use to fill in your real ballot. It is a pretty cool tool — Voter’s Edge California neither supports nor opposes political parties, ballot measures, or candidates for public office.
How to Vote in California: How not to mess up your ballot
Sign it. Seal it. Deposit it. Make sure you completed it on all the pages on both sides. Place your completed ballot card in the official return envelope. Seal the return envelope. Sign and date the back of the envelope. No need to add postage.
It can be a bit scary to do at home. I often wonder, “Am I doing it right?” We’re parents though, and we can do hard things.
Voting in Alameda County: Where to drop off your ballot and when
Early voting started in October 6, in California! Alameda County residents can vote early at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office between 8:30 am – 5 pm. Vote-by-mail drop boxes are accepting completed ballots now, too. Here’s a map of AC County ballot boxes > Find locations and operating hours as well as other details you need to know at ACVote.org >
Voting in Contra Costa County: Where to drop off your ballot and when
Secure voting drop boxes are also available in Contra Costa County. Find the nearest ballot drop box and the rest of your Coco County voting info here >
Track your Ballot: Make sure it is counted
Tracking your California ballot – when it is mailed, received, and counted – has never been easier. No need to worry that it is in a ditch somewhere. Track your ballot here through the whole process.
Key Dates & Locations in California Election
Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. All of California’s registered voters’ ballots are already in the mail to you. Early voting and in-person voting locations will also be available to voters with ballots.
Election Day marks the final day to drop your ballot in the mail through the US Postal Service or by any of the dedicated ballot drop-boxes around town. You can either drop off your ballot at a polling place, surrender your mail-in ballot and vote in-person, or bring your mail-in ballot to a secure dropbox.
Online: Oct. 19
By mail: Postmarked by Oct. 19
In person: Nov. 3
Absentee ballot deadlines
Request: Oct. 27
Return by mail: Postmarked by Nov. 3 (you don’t need a stamp)
Return in person: Nov. 3 by 8 pm
Oct. 5 – Nov. 2, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live. Your typical polling place is NOT open this year. Check your status and find your location here.