Vote by Mail

County elections officials will mail vote-by-mail ballots to all active registered voters. Any registered voter may vote using a vote-by-mail ballot instead of going to the polls on Election Day.


Instead of going to the polls on Election Day, you may vote using the vote-by-mail ballot that will be sent to you.

After you have voted, insert your ballot in the envelope provided, making sure you complete all required information on the envelope.

Return Your Ballot

You may return your voted ballot by:

  1. Mailing your ballot
    • Vote-by-mail ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 7 days after Election Day.
    • If you are not sure your vote-by-mail ballot will arrive in time if mailed, bring it to any polling place in the state between 7 am and 8 pm on Election Day.
  2. Returning it in person to a polling place or the office of your county elections official
    • Vote-by-mail ballots that are personally delivered must be delivered no later than the close of polls at 8 pm on Election Day.
  3. Dropping your ballot into one of your county's ballot drop boxes
    • Vote-by-mail ballots that are personally delivered to a ballot drop-off location must be delivered no later than the close of polls at 8 pm on Election Day.
  4. Authorizing someone to return the ballot on your behalf
    • 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.

After Your Ballot is Received

When your vote-by-mail ballot is received by the Registrar of Voters office, your signature on the return envelope will be compared to the signature on your voter registration card to ensure they match. To preserve the secrecy of your ballot, the ballot will then be separated from the envelope, and then it will be tallied.

Voting for the First Time

When you registered to vote, you were asked to fill in your driver's license number, California identification number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you did not include this information when you registered, send a photocopy of some personal identification with your Vote-by-Mail Application or to your county elections official before the election.

A copy of a recent utility bill, the county Voter Information Guide you received from your county elections office, or another document sent to you by a government agency are examples of acceptable forms of identification. Other examples include your passport, driver license, official California identification card, or student identification card.

If your identity cannot be verified, then your Vote-by-Mail ballot envelope will not be opened. For more information on identification to use when you vote for the first time, check the complete list of acceptable forms of identification (PDF) or call the Secretary of State's toll-free voter hotline at 800-345-VOTE (8683).

Status of your Vote-by-Mail Ballot

California Elections Code section 3017(c) requires county elections officials to establish procedures to track and confirm the receipt of voted vote-by-mail ballots and to make this information available by means of an online access system or by calling our toll free number at 888-235-6730.

You may also check the status of your ballot by visiting My Voter Status.

Where’s My Ballot? Service

The California Secretary of State is now offering Where’s My Ballot? - a new way for voters to track and receive notifications on the status of their vote-by-mail ballot. Powered by BallotTrax, Where’s My Ballot? lets voters know where their ballot is, and its status, every step of the way.

A voter who has signed up will receive notices via email, text, or voice message from the county elections official regarding the status of the voter's vote-by-mail ballot including:

  • When the ballot has been delivered
  • The date that the voter's ballot is expected to be delivered to the voter
  • If the voter's ballot is returned as undeliverable to the county elections official by the USPS
  • When the voter's completed ballot has been received by the county
  • Whether the voter's completed ballot has been accepted or a reason why the ballot could not be accepted and instructions of steps the voter can take in order to have the ballot accepted
  • The deadline for the voter to return his or her ballot if the county has not received a voter's completed ballot by specified dates as determined by the county elections official

Sign-up at Where's My Ballot? to receive automatic email, SMS (text), or voice call notifications about your ballot.