Vote 2020 Methods
October 8, 2020

To ensure that your vote counts in the General Election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 you need to act quickly and carefully. Follow these instructions whether you plan to vote-by-mail, deposit your ballot in a drop box, or visit an Accessible Voting Location in person. These instructions will guide you whether you need to register and vote for the first time, your ballot does not arrive in the mail, or you have been voting for years.

During the March 2020 presidential primary election, California rejected about 1.5% of the seven million ballots which were returned by mail. Of these 102,428 mail-in ballots, 70,330 were disqualified because they missed the postmark deadline and another 27,525 were rejected because they were either missing a signature on the ballot envelope or the signature did not match the one on file. 

The employee owners of Sun Light & Power urge you to make your vote count on a wide range of city, county, state and national issues by voting early this year. Your vote will help preserve and strengthen our democracy. We also urge you to follow all health and safety guidelines if you vote in person.

This document was prepared after reviewing official State of California and California County websites, contacting State and County voting specialists by phone, and reviewing official materials received by mail from the US Postal Service, the State of California and Alameda County. Please share it, and ask everyone you know, "What's your plan for voting on November 3rd?"


Oct 5,   2020  County elections offices begin to mail ballots.

Oct 15, 2020  Bay Area counties' recommended deadline to request a ballot.

Oct 19, 2020  Last day to register to vote online or have your application form postmarked.

Oct 27, 2020  Deadline for Vote-By-Mail ballot request to reach your county elections office.

Oct 27, 2020  US Postal Service’s recommended last day to Vote-By-Mail.

Nov 3,  2020  Check your Post Office's Vote-By-Mail postmark deadline. Polls and drop boxes close at 8:00 p.m.


Eligible to Vote in California?

Check Your Registration Status.

When entering your first name, do not include your middle name(s) or initials. 

Register to Vote Online by Oct 19.

You will need to enter your driver license number from any state, the last four digits of your social security number and your date of birth.

When to Re-register to Vote?

Re-register to vote immediately if your name and/or address has changed. If only your phone number has changed or you decide to change your political party, you can wait until after the election to update them. Phone numbers are only used as a last resort to verify your identity. In all General Elections, unlike a Primary Election, your choice of candidates will not be limited by your political party preference. Given the surge in online voting operations and the possibility of computer related problems, re-register only if your name and/or address has changed.

Voter Registration Form

Eligible voters can call the California Voter Hotline at 800-345-VOTE (8683), or request a registration form online. You can also collect a printed registration form from a county elections office, US Post Office, library, or DMV.

Same Day Conditional Voter Registration: Oct 20 – Nov 3

Eligible voters who miss the Oct 19, 2020 voter registration deadline can conditionally register or re-register and then vote using a provided provisional ballot at any Accessible Voting Location. Your vote will be counted after your identity is verified. Bring an accepted form of identification.

Voter Registration for Safe at Home Participants

If you are enrolled in a confidential address program such as Safe at Home, call 877-322-5227 or visit this page.

Have a Question?

Contact the California Elections Division via their online form or call 916-657-2166


Official Voter Information Guide

If your guide did not arrive by mail, call the California Voter Hotline at 800-345-VOTE (8683) for a replacement. Your sample ballot and Vote-By-Mail Ballot should arrive by mail shortly. Review the Voter Information Guide carefully and learn more about the Propositions. Your regular polling place will not be printed on these documents this year because none of the regular locations will be open for this General Election due to the Coronavirus pandemic.


Beginning on Oct 5, 2020, the US Postal Service will start delivering Vote-By-Mail ballots for the Nov 3 General Election to all active registered resident California voters pursuant to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-64-20.

Request a Ballot by Mail 

Registered voters who need a new or replacement ballot can download the current California Vote-By-Mail Application (Rev 03/2018) and return it by mail. It must be received by your county elections office no later than Oct 27.

Request a Ballot by Phone                                                                            

Registered voters who need a new or replacement ballot can call their county elections office. Alameda County and most other Bay Area counties strongly recommend that you make your request no later than Oct 15. This will ensure that your county and the USPS can deliver your Vote-By-Mail ballot in time for you to mail it back.

Request a Ballot in Person                                                                                               

Registered voters can visit their county elections office to request and receive a vote-by-mail ballot.            

Ballot Will Call Request Online                                                                                   

Registered voters should navigate to their own county’s Official Election Site and search for the Ballot Will Call Request page. Use the online form to request a ballot and it will be held for you at your county elections office for pick up. For next day service submit your request before the daily deadline which is typically 3:00 p.m.

If you need a ballot within 7 days of the Election, use the Ballot Will Call Request online form. Do not follow the instructions on the current California Vote-By-Mail Application form PDF, which was not intended for use during a pandemic. Most Bay Area counties have adopted this process.


Return your ballot early and track its progress. You must clearly sign and date the Voter’s Declaration on the return envelope! Your signature will be compared to the one on file. Ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov 3, 2020. USPS will NOT have extended hours similar to those on federal income tax filing day. The US Postal Service recommends mailing your ballot no later than Oct 27, 2020 to ensure it is properly postmarked and delivered to your county elections office no later than three days after Election Day. If you think you have missed the postmark deadline on Nov 3, 2020 make your way to a drop box or Accessible Voting Location.

If your ballot is rejected because of a signature mismatch, you will be notified at least eight days before the election results are certified on Dec 11, 2020. You will have until 5:00 p.m. two days prior to certification to provide an in-person signature verification. If you failed to sign your ballot, you will have until 5:00 p.m. on the eighth day after Nov 3, 2020 to submit an unsigned ballot statement.

Track Your Ballot

Track your incoming and outgoing ballot via email, text or voice call. While you are checking your voter registration status you can navigate via link to the ballottrax webpage to enter in your details. Enter your first name exactly as it appears on your voter registration documents. You will be able to see when your ballot was printed and when it was mailed to you. When you return your ballot, you can track it again all the way to your county elections office and see if your ballot was accepted. You can choose to receive ballot updates by email, text or voice call. You can also set the times when these alerts are sent. You can review how your personal information is used by visiting this page.

First Time Voter: Vote-By-Mail                                                                                            

If you did not submit your driver license number, California identification Card number or the last four digits of your social security number when you registered, you will need to submit a copy of an approved ID document with your ballot in the same envelope in order to confirm your identity or your ballot will not be counted.

Remote Accessible Vote-By-Mail (RAVBM)                                                                             

To access an electronic ballot on your computer or tablet which will allow you to select your choices online and then print it at home check your voter registration status. Once you have authenticated, scroll down to the box which says "I want a one-time remote access vote-by-mail ballot," then scroll to the bottom of the page where you must enter your email address twice and click SAVE. You must print and return your completed ballot. Sign and date the postage paid vote-by-mail envelope you should have received in the mail. If you use your own envelope, it must include proper postage, your signature and the date on the outside of the envelope. Alternatively, you may also return your RAVBM ballot in a signed and dated envelope to any Accessible Voting Location, drop box or county elections office. Four certified RAVBM secure voting system providers are authorized to serve you. For more information review the FAQ and visit this page.


Deposit Your Ballot Early: Oct 5 – Nov 2                                                                                                            

Deposit your ballot in a signed, dated and sealed ballot envelope at an official ballot drop box. Tick the "Drop Off Location" box for locations and access times.

Return Your Ballot on Election Day, Tuesday Nov 3 from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.                   

Deposit your ballot in a signed, dated and sealed ballot envelope at an Accessible Voting Location, drop box, or county elections office.

If you can’t locate or reach a drop box in your precinct, you may use any drop box in your county. Avoid using drop boxes in other counties unless you have no other choice – your ballot will be delayed and could miss the deadline.


Vote Early in Person: Oct 31 - Nov 2                                                                                                    

Every California county will have at least one Early Voting Location available. Tick the “Early Voting” box to locate one.

Vote in Person on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov 3 from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Locate your nearest Accessible Voting Location – regular polling places will be closed.

Bring Identification!                                                                                                              

Registered voters should bring ID and their sample ballot with their name and address on it. If you have registered and your name does not appear on the list of voters, you can request a provisional ballot. It will be counted after your registration is confirmed and only if you have not voted elsewhere.

Official Voter Information Guide COVID-19 Safety Checklist

Wear a face covering while at the voting location.
Keep 2 arms’ length distance from other people.
Wash your hands before and after entering the voting location.
Use hand sanitizer after touching doors or voting equipment.
Bring a black or blue ballpoint pen to avoid touching high-contact surfaces.

Voting Rights

If you are waiting in line when the polls close, the law allows you to remain until you vote. 

If you make a mistake on your ballot BEFORE you submit it, you can request a new one.

If you do not wear a face mask, you cannot be prevented from exercising your constitutional right to vote.

Vote in Person Instead of Mailing Your Ballot.                                                                 

Bring your unused vote-by-mail ballot to an Accessible Voting Location and exchange it for a regular ballot. If you forget to bring your unused ballot, you can still vote using a provisional ballot, which will be counted after your registration is confirmed and the system determines that you have not voted elsewhere. Bring an approved form of identification.

First Time Voter: Voting in Person?                                                                                       

If you did not submit your driver license number, California identification card number or the last four digits of your social security number when you registered, you will need to confirm your identity or your ballot will not be accepted. In addition to the types of identification listed above, a copy of a recent utility bill, sample ballot mailed to your address, student ID with your picture, or your passport are also acceptable. For details of accepted forms of ID review this page and/or download this complete list.

Authorize Someone to Return Your 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.Sign your name and write the date on your ballot envelope.

Seamas Brennan is Marketing Coordinator at Sun Light & Power.

Marke Your Vote Count - Vote Early!


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