Tips to Make Last-Minute Voting a Breeze

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Unlike many other states, California counts votes received up to 17 days after Election Day, as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3. Photo Credit: Gutzemberg/iStockphoto

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With only five days to go, the rush is on to get ballots in, and voting-rights groups have a few tips on making your vote count.

A few weeks ago, the state mailed ballots to all registered voters.

Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director for California Common Cause, said there’s still time to mail it back.

“In California, a ballot can get to an elections office up to 17 days after Election Day and still be counted,” Stein explained. “So just because you’re close to Election Day, doesn’t mean you have to abandon USPS as an option. You just have to make sure that your ballot is postmarked by Election Day.”

You also can turn in the ballot at an official dropbox. Find the locations on the website for your county election board and for the Secretary of State.

And, of course, you can vote in person, at one of the many early-vote centers open this weekend.

On Election Day itself, you can drop off your absentee ballot or vote in person, even if you left your vote-by-mail ballot at home.

Also, a new law allows you to register and vote on Election Day at any polling place. However, Stein noted it could take a while before we know the results.

“California takes days and weeks to count votes,” Stein observed. “And that is a feature, not a bug. That is a sign that elections officials are doing everything they can to count every eligible vote. It is not a sign of fraud or malfeasance.”

The biggest mistake people make is forgetting to sign the outside of the envelope. If there is a problem with your ballot, you’ll get a letter and can then fix it at the elections office.

In addition, you can sign up for ballot tracking at, and get a text message, should any issues arise.

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