With Election Day fast approaching, here’s how to make sure your vote counts, whether you want to make sure you’re registered to vote, can’t find where to put your ballot or changed your mind about not voting.
While the deadline to register to vote online and receive a vote-by-mail ballot was Oct. 24, any eligible voter can still register to vote in-person at the nearest polling place.
CapRadio’s team has put together a voter guide with information on state propositions, Sacramento County and city ballot measures and local races, including the school board contests in the area.
If you’re outside the Sacramento area and want more information on your ballot, you can research races in your area here.
Who is eligible to vote?
Anyone 18 and older who is a resident of California and a U.S. citizen is eligible to vote.
That includes those experiencing homelessness and those who have been previously or currently incarcerated, as long as they are not serving a term in state or federal prison for a felony.
Those whom a court of law has ruled mentally incompetent are ineligible to vote, as are people who are undocumented.
How do I make sure I’m registered to vote? What does registration mean?
Registration ensures that your ballot is linked to you, and that you’re only voting once.
To check whether you’re already registered to vote, what party affiliation you’ve listed and what name you’re registered under, you can visit https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/.
If you’re in the Sacramento region, here’s where you can call or enter your info to check whether you’re registered in to vote:
You’ll also need to re-register to vote if:
- You’ve moved since the last election
- You want to change your party affiliation
- Your legal name has changed since the last election
What if I forgot to send my mail-in ballot?
You can still drop off your mail-in ballot at any polling place, as long as it’s delivered by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8.
If you still choose to mail your ballot, as long as it is postmarked on or before Nov. 8 and received by the county elections office no later than Nov. 11, it will still count.
Janna Haynes, a spokesperson with Sacramento County Voter Registration and Elections, says while ballot pick-up from the post office is out of the election offices’ control, the post office plans to prioritize postmarking any ballots they receive on Election Day.
“The caveat to that is if you put it in your mailbox, you have to be absolutely certain that your mail was not already picked up for the day,” she said. “We really encourage voters, if they’re waiting until the day-of, to utilize that vote-by-mail ballot and take it to one of their drop boxes to ensure they don’t miss that cut-off for any reason.”
To track your mail-in ballot and whether it was received, voters in any county can visit https://california.ballottrax.net/voter/ and enter their ZIP code, first and last name as they appear on your voter registration and birth date.
How can I still vote if I’m not registered?
California offers same-day registration. You can register in-person at a vote center or your county elections office before or on Election Day.
The state offers a searchable list of voting centers and whether they offer same-day voter registration.
At a vote center, you can register to vote and cast a provisional ballot. You’ll want to have a form of ID — your driver’s license, U.S. passport, student identification card, utility bill, state identification card all count — or know the last 4 digits of your Social Security number in order to sign up.
“You’ll get a ballot for your precinct, cast your ballot, and then our office will hold that ballot aside and verify your eligibility as a voter in the county,” Haynes explained. “Assuming that all checks out, we process your vote after your eligibility is verified.”
Voter guides with information on candidates, propositions and measures on the ballot will also be available at all vote centers.
If you’re experiencing homelessness, you can list a nearby park or an intersection as your address when at a vote center – for example, listing “Cesar Chavez Plaza” or “Fremont Park” would be sufficient, according to Sacramento County officials.
“Provide an exact description, including cross streets,” the Yolo County election website suggests. “If applicable, identify the corner or area where you live. For instance: ‘Northwest corner of 1st St and Court St.’”
What accessibility options do vote centers offer?
All vote centers are legally required to be accessible for those with disabilities, per the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To find out what accessibility options are available specific to your county, you can use this page detailing voting technology available this election.
In Sacramento County, there will be touch-screen voting machines in vote centers, which Haynes with the county said is useful for voters with visual impairments or those who have trouble holding a pencil or a pen.
“They can get their ballot on a touch screen, use the touch screen to fill out their ballot and then print it out and put it in the ballot box,” she said. “[The machine] also has an audio feature that will actually read out to you what’s on the screen. We also have a joystick that can make the selections for blind voters.”
Curbside voting is also available for those in Sacramento County who may not be able to transfer from a car to a wheelchair. Each voting center will have a sign with a phone number will be posted to call to request this service. Staff will bring out a ballot to your car and take it back into the vote center once you’ve filled it out.
How can I make sure my provisional ballot counts?
Here’s where you can call or enter your info to check the status of your provisional ballot if you’re in the Sacramento region:
If you’re located elsewhere in California, the state has a directory with contact information for places you can check the status of your provisional ballot.
Where can I get information about voting in languages that aren’t English?
If you’d prefer to ask questions about the voting process and registration in a non-English language, California offers hotlines in 9 other languages:
- (800) 232-VOTA (8682) - español / Spanish
- (800) 339-2857 - 中文 / Chinese
- (888) 345-2692 - हिन्दी / Hindi
- (800) 339-2865 - 日本語 / Japanese
- (888) 345-4917 - ខ្មែរ / Khmer
- (866) 575-1558 - 한국어 / Korean
- (800) 339-2957 - Tagalog
- (855) 345-3933 - ภาษาไทย / Thai
- (800) 339-8163 - Việt ngữ / Vietnamese
- (800) 833-8683 – TTY/TDD
Additionally, there may also be the option to have ballots printed in-language, at least in vote centers in Sacramento County, Haynes said.
“Based on the demographics that the census data provides us in different regions of the county, we try and staff an in-language provider at that vote center,” she said.
How can I stay involved in local politics if I’m unable to vote?
If you’re unable to make it to a local polling place or are ineligible to vote in this election, there are other ways you can participate in your community.
That can include looking up mutual aid efforts near you, and focusing on strengthening relationships of care with your neighbors.
For example, if you’re in Sacramento proper, you could drop off extra, unexpired food to one of the several community fridges throughout the city.
Community participation can include hosting political education events, says Kimberly Gomez, the director at Sacramento State’s Dreamer Resource Center (DRC).
The center serves undocumented students, faculty and staff at the university.
“One way for the DRC to get folk who cannot vote politically involved is to make them aware,” Gomez said via email. “We also host community circles at the center when political updates are not immigrant-friendly or they impact our students, staff and faculty.”
Someone’s ability to vote, she noted, doesn’t mean they aren’t interested — or won’t be affected — by politics, propositions and laws.
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