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How To Get Ready For California's 2018 Midterm Election

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Kelly Pope walks into the North Natomas Library to drop off her ballot.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

From who will be our next governor, to whether we should expand rent control — California voters will be making big decisions about the future of the state in this year’s midterm election. Here’s everything you need to know to be ready to cast your vote on November 6.

How to register

The California voter registration deadline is October 22, 2018. You can check your status and fill out the registration form on the Secretary of State’s website, which also has information about voter eligibility, when you need to re-register (for example, if you’ve changed your name), what to do if you’re away at college and more.

In some counties, including Sacramento, all registered voters will receive mail-in ballots under the new California Voter’s Choice Act model. Elsewhere, you have to request a ballot if you want to vote by mail. The last day to do so is October 30, 2018.

If you miss the voter registration deadline, you can go to your county elections office or a Vote Center and conditionally register and vote using a provisional ballot.

Do your homework

You’ll want to brush up on the candidates and issues you’ll be considering before voting. Here are some of the ones we’re paying close attention to:

Governor's Race

Termed-out Gov. Jerry Brown will be replaced by either Democrat Gavin Newsom or Republican John Cox. Newsom, the current lieutenant governor and a former mayor of San Francisco, has a large lead in the polls and fundraising over Cox, a businessman endorsed by President Donald Trump.

Senate Race

Twenty-five year incumbent U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is running for re-election against California state Sen. Kevin de León, who notably received the state Democratic Party’s endorsement. Still, Feinstein outpaces de León in name recognition and fundraising. She finished first in the June 5 primary with 44 percent of the vote compared to de León's 12 percent.

Congressional Races

There are several hotly contested congressional races in California this year. Seats that were solidly Republican are suddenly up for grabs and could determine which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives. These Republican districts include those held by representatives Darrell Issa, Jeff Denham, Steve Knight, Ed Royce, Dana Rohrabacher, Mimi Walters and David Valadao. Learn more about them in our podcast Keys to the House.


Here’s our guide to the 11 propositions on the November ballot, including measures that would give cities more freedom to enact rent control and a repeal of the gas tax.

Sacramento’s Measure U

The Sacramento City Council is asking voters to weigh a sales tax increase under Measure U, which would raise the total tax to 8.75 percent. Officials say the increase would generate an estimated $100 million a year for not only police, firefighters and parks, but also affordable housing, homelessness and investment in communities of color.

You can keep up with all of our election coverage at capradio.org/elections.

Cast your vote

Depending on where you live and what voting method you prefer, you’ll either mail in your ballot, drop it off at a certified location, or head to a polling place or vote center on November 6.

Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can look up your polling place here.

If you live in Sacramento, Madera, Napa, Nevada or San Mateo counties, you’ll receive a vote-by-mail ballot and can either drop it off or mail it back. Your ballot must be postmarked on or before November 6 and received within three days of Election Day. You can also opt to vote in person at a Vote Center, which unlike polling places, are unassigned. 

You can check the status of your mail-in or provisional ballot here.

Join us on election night

As the results roll in Tuesday, November 6, we’ll be providing live updates on air at 90.9 FM and online at capradio.org. Have questions? Reach out to us on Twitter @capradionews or on Facebook.

Happy voting!

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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