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Vote By Mail - FAQ's

  • Will there be additional postage for returning my Vote By Mail ballot?
  • Additional postage will be required to return your Vote by Mail ballot envelope by mail.
    Recommended Postage:
    $0.70 for 2 ballot cards
    $0.91 for 3 or 4 ballot cards
  • What is vote by mail?
  • Vote by mail allows voters to cast a ballot without going to a polling place. If a registered voter has applied to vote by mail, the Registrar's office mails a ballot to the registered address of the voter beginning 29 days before an election. The voter votes the ballot and returns it to the election office by mail. The voter can also return it in person to the office or to any polling place on Election Day to be counted. Any voter can apply to vote by mail permanently in every election.
  • What are the benefits of voting by mail?
  • Voting by mail is easy and convenient. The ballot arrives in the mail. You can vote in the privacy of your home and take your time to mark your ballot and mail it back. If you can't easily get to your polling place on Election Day, you never have to miss voting in an election because, with a mail ballot, voting comes to you.
  • What do I have to do to vote by mail permanently?
  • First, make sure that you are registered at the address where you currently live. Your ballot will be mailed to the address we have on the voter file before every election in which you are eligible to vote. Vote by mail ballots cannot be forwarded. If you no longer live at your registered address, your ballot will be returned as undeliverable.
    Second, you must apply for a mail ballot. You may apply to vote by mail before each election, or you may apply for permanent mail voter status by filling out the Permanent Vote By Mail application form from the Vote By Mail page.
  • When are ballots mailed to voters?
  • By law, the first day ballots can be mailed to voters is 29 days before an election. Ballots are mailed continuously during the 29 day period.
  • How do I vote my ballot?
  • Use a black or blue pen to mark your ballot.
    • Connect the arrow completely.
    • Vote for no more than the authorized number of candidates.
    • Be sure to complete both sides of the ballot.
    • If you make a mistake, do not try to correct it, call our office for a replacement ballot.
    • Place your ballot in the return envelope provided. Sign and write your address on the return envelope
    • Your ballot will not be counted if there is no signature on the return envelope.
  • When does my ballot have to be returned?
  • Your completed ballot must be in possession of the Registrar of Voters no later than 8:00 pm on election night. Be sure to mail your ballot early enough to be received by then. If you are concerned that your ballot may not be received in time, you can drop the ballot off at any polling location or at the Registrar of Voters Office.
  • How do I know if you received my Vote By Mail ballot?
  • You can use the My Voter Profile page to track your Vote By Mail ballot. When received, you will see this message displayed 'YOUR VOTE BY MAIL BALLOT WAS RECEIVED'.
  • Can I drop off my spouse's ballot?
  • Yes, you have to be designated by your spouse by having them fill out the appropriate information on the back of the VBM return envelope.
  • Do I have to vote for every race on the ballot?
  • No, you are not required to vote for every race on your ballot. Vote for no more than the authorized number of candidates.
  • I will be out of town when the ballots are mailed. How do I get a ballot?
  • You may request that your ballot be sent to the address where you will be, vote it and mail it back from there. You can fill out a new Vote By Mail application and add the new mailing address. You can print out our online Vote by Mail application and send it in.
  • How will I get information about candidates and measures?
  • You will receive a Sample Ballot and Voter Information Pamphlet for all local candidates and measures. In a statewide election, your household will also receive a State Pamphlet with information about State propositions and candidates. You may also visit our website for links to information about candidates and measures.
  • After I receive my ballot in the mail, can I still vote at the polls?
  • Yes. Just return your unvoted ballot to the election officials at the polling place and vote a regular ballot.
  • It's been two weeks since ballots were first mailed to voter and I still haven't received my ballot, what do I do?
  • Call the Registrar of Voters' Office for a replacement ballot. If it is too late for us to send you a replacement ballot, you may go to your polling place and vote using a provisional ballot. (510) 272-6973
  • How does the Registrar's Office make sure voters don't vote more than once?
  • When a voter applies for a mail ballot, it is recorded in the voter file. When the Roster for the polls is printed, all mail voters are indicated by the words, "by mail" next to their names. The office gives an updated list of voters voting by mail to all poll workers on the weekend before the election. If a voter with the words, "by mail" next to his or her name goes to the polls, the poll worker will ask for the vote by mail ballot. If the voter doesn't have it, he or she must vote provisionally.
  • Yes, but what if I get two ballots?
  • If you receive two ballots, the first one back will be the one that is counted. If the second ballot comes, it is blocked from being recorded as a valid returned ballot and cannot be counted.
  • How can you be sure the ballot I have returned belongs to me?
  • When your ballot is returned, we check your name, address and signature against the voter records. If everything matches, your ballot is counted.
  • Do you count all of the ballots that come by mail, or do you just count them when there is a close race?
  • We count every mail ballot so long as we can match the voter's signature with the signature on the voter's registration card.
  • What if I forget to sign my envelope?
  • If we get your ballot at least two weeks before the election and you have forgotten to sign it, we mail it back to you and ask you to sign and return it.
  • Where can I get more information about voting by mail?
  • Call the Registrar of Voters Office at (510) 272-6973.

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