Democracy made easy: Your guide to a last-minute vote

Photo of an official ballot drop box
Antonio Martin/Staff
Regardless of age group, vote-by-mail ballots are often rejected because voters have returned them too late in the election season, failed to sign the envelope or did not ensure their signature matched that of their voter registration, according to the report.

The long-anticipated Election Day is here, but do not fear; it’s not too late to get your vote counted! If you haven’t made a voting plan yet, keep reading to figure out your best next steps.

Registering to vote
Did you procrastinate on registering to vote? Don’t worry, because California has same-day voter registration! All you need to do is go to an in-person polling place in the county in which you are trying to vote. There, you can fill out a voter registration form and receive a ballot. Your ballot will be counted after your eligibility to register is confirmed by the registrar.

If you are registered to vote outside of the county you are currently in, re-registering to vote on Election Day in the county in which you are living may also be an option for you if you never received your mail-in ballot. As long as you’re not voting twice, you can always register to vote in the county you are in.

Mail-in voting
There have been many rumors circulating the internet about the last possible day to mail in your ballot, but in California, mail-in ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received at your county elections office by Nov. 20 will be counted. You don’t even need a stamp! With that being said, if you are currently in the same county in which you are registered, dropping off your ballot in a ballot drop box is a more direct option.

Ballot drop boxes
Ballot drop boxes are the best options on Election Day for people voting absentee in the same county in which they are located. Ballot drop boxes are essentially collection boxes that are picked up directly by the office of the voter registrar, meaning they’re a more direct way to vote than by mail. The six ballot boxes in Berkeley will be open until Nov. 3 at 8 p.m.

Remember, don’t use a drop box outside the county you are registered to vote in, or else your ballot won’t be counted. If you live in Oakland but you’re voting in Los Angeles, you must mail your ballot (no stamp required!). You would not be able to use an Alameda County ballot drop box.

In-person voting
There are many accessible voting locations in Berkeley this year, including one in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union and another at the Lawrence Hall of Science. When you vote in person in California, showing identification is not required in most cases, but the office of the California Secretary of State recommends that voters bring identification just in case because there are specific circumstances under which it may be asked for.

Because every voter was supposed to receive a mail-in ballot this year, voters should also bring their absentee ballots with them when voting in person. If you forget, however, you will still be able to vote.

Regardless of how you vote, make sure you cast your ballot before 8 p.m. or are in line by that time on Nov. 3. Your vote is super important, so get out there and vote!

Contact Kate Finman at [email protected].