Voting Guide

A place for unbiased resources to inform voters and actionable steps for civic engagement.

What is it?

Understanding voting on national and local levels may at times be daunting; we are faced with a mountain of information and no clear direction on how to make our voices heard. Our goal is to make such content more accessible, transparent, and actionable. We will be building on providing unbiased information across all levels of civic engagement - from our local cities, states, and national levels.

**Please note that we will focus on information for the state of California and City of Los Angeles. State and local elections information coming soon.**

For slides from our "Why Voting Matters" (Oct. 19 ) webinar, click here.

2020 General Elections

For the 2020 General Election in November, the State of California will send all registered* voters a Vote-by-Mail ballot.

To make sure your ballot counts:
  • Ensure that the signature on the ballot matches the one on your government ID (i.e. Driver's License, ID card).
  • Make sure to drop off your ballot at the correct dropbox, country elections office, or polling place.
  • Use black or blue ink on your ballot.
  • Track your ballot with CA's official Track My Ballot tool.

Key Dates

Election Day: November 3rd, 2020 from 7:00am - 8:00pm

New Voter Registration: October 19, 2020

Same-Day Voter Registration: Eligible citizens may register/re-register within 14 days of your county elections office, polling place, or voting center.

Vote-by-Mail: Election Day (in person), postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 17 days after Election Day.

Absentee Ballots: Election Day (in person), received by your county elections office 7 days before Election day (by mail).

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CA Voter Registration ApplicationRegister online* or postmarked by October 19th, 2020 for new CA resident voters and "future voters" ages 16 and 17.

To register online, you will need your CA Drivers License/ID, last 4-digits of your SSN, Date of Birth. If you do not have the information at the time of registration, poll workers may ask you to provide ID at your polling place.
Check CA Voter Registration Statuscheck where you are registered to vote, political party preference, polling place, county elections office, and vote-by-mail ballot status.

Find your county elections office contact information here.
Same-Day Voter RegistrationEligible citizens who need to register/re-register to vote may do so at their county elections office, polling place, or voting center with 14 days of Election Day.

Find Early Voting & Vote-by-Mail Drop-Off Locations where you can complete Same-Day registration. If you need to register on Election Day, find your Local Polling Place to visit and register.
Apply In-Person: Any time after 7 days before Election Day, you will need to apply in person at your county elections office to request a vote-by-mail ballot for that election.

Find your county elections office information here.
* : If you have voted in an CA election before registered with your current address, no further action is due. You can double check your registration info and status here.

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Early Voting In-Person: Some counties offer early voting before Election Day. Contact your county elections office to confirm that they offer early voting here
Vote on Election Day: In-Person on Election Day, November 3rd, 2020 7:00am - 8:00pm. Your local polling place is printed on the Voter Information Guide mailed to you by your county elections official. Check you polling place here or by calling (800-345-VOTE) or text "Vote" to GOVOTE (468683).

Know you Voter Rights. As long as you are in line before 8:00pm, you may exercise your vote.
Vote by Mail: Return by mail - postmarked before or by November 3rd. Received by county elections office by November 20th. Make sure to sign your return envelope as indicated. You signature will be compared to your voter registration card to ensure they match.

Return in-person - to your county elections office, polling place, or ballot dropbox before November 3rd, 8:00pm (Election Day).
Authorize 3rd Party to Return Ballot: Anyone may return your ballot for you, as long as they do not get paid on a per ballot basis. In order for your ballot to be counted, you must fill out the authorization section found on the outside of your ballot envelope. Due before November 3rd, 8:00pm (Election Day).
What type of ID do I need?
Most California voters are not required to show ID at their polling place. For in-person voting, unless you are a first-time voter, you do not need to show your ID to vote.

However, a poll worker may ask to see your ID if you mailed your voter registration application and did not include your driver’s license number, California ID number, or the last 4-digits of your SSN.

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"Why Voting Matters" Webinar Slides

  • Official California General Elections Candidates here
  • California Political Party Statement of Purpose here

How does the Electoral College work?
Electors are appointed by the political parties in each state, so when a Democratic/Republican candidate receives the most votes, they will win the popular vote, and then electors from the respective parties will get to cast votes for their party’s candidate in their state capital in December. Source: NYT

In the fall, in each state, each party on the ballot chooses persons to be “electors” pledged to vote for particular candidates when the electors meet in mid-December to cast their "electoral votes". So when you vote for candidates, you're actually voting for electors pledged to vote for one of the candidates previously at a meeting of the electors. After the general Election Day in January, electoral votes are opened and counted in a joint session of Congress in the House. A candidate must receive 270 of 538 electoral votes to become President/VP. Source: National Archives

LA County Voting
CA Propositions
CA General Election

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Voter Rights

California Voter's Rights
  • The right to vote if you are a registered voter even if your name is not on the list*.
  • The right to get a new ballot if you have made a mistake, if you have not already
    cast your ballot. You can:
    • Ask an elections official at a polling place for a new ballot,
    • Exchange your vote-by-mail ballot for a new one at an elections office, or at your polling place, or
    • Vote using a provisional ballot.
  • The right to get help casting your ballot from anyone you choose, except from your employer or union representative.
  • The right to drop off your completed vote-by-mail ballot at any polling place in California.
  • The right to get election materials in a language other than English if enough people in your voting precinct speak that language.
  • The right to ask questions to elections officials about election procedures and watch the election process.  If the person you ask cannot answer your questions, they must send you to the right person for an answer.  If you are disruptive, they can stop answering you.
  • The right to report any illegal or fraudulent election activity to an elections official or the Secretary of State’s office.

If you believe you have been denied any of these rights, or you are aware of any election fraud or misconduct, please call the Secretary of State's confidential toll-free Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683).
Time Off Work: The California Elections Code allows employees to be given as much time as needed in order to exercise their right to vote (maximum 2 hours paid). Employers may require advance notice for time off to vote. Employers may require time off to be taken only at the beginning or or end of the employee’s shift. Source
Check Ballot Status: Under the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, every voter who casts a provisional ballot or vote-by-mail ballot is entitled to find out from his/her county elections official if the ballot was counted and if not, the reason why it was not counted. Go here to check the status of your provisional ballot or vote-by-mail ballot by local county elections office.
*Name Missing from In-Person Voter List: If your name is not included on the voter list at your local polling place...
  • Confirm that you are registered to vote and that you are at the right polling place. Find your polling place here.
  • If you are registered but not showing up on the voter roll, call the Election Protection Hotline (866-687-8683).
  • If you’ve recently moved, you might be on the voter roll of your old polling place. Check with a poll worker to see if you can update your registration to vote a regular ballot.
  • Otherwise, you have the right to vote with a provisional ballot. It will be counted only after the elections official has confirmed you are a registered voter and you have not voted anywhere else.
  • Ask the poll workers if there is an “inactive” or “suspense” voter list. If you have not recently voted, you may be on this list and can still cast a regular ballot.
Long Lines at the Polling Place: Keep your place in line. As long as you are in line when the polls close (November 3rd, 2020 8:00pm), you will be allowed to cast your ballot. If you leave the line, you may not be able to vote.
Restore Voting Rights: California allows persons with felony convictions who have completed their prison and parole sentences to restore voting rights. Check your eligibility here and restore your vote here.

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