Click a category to show frequently asked questions and their answers.
Check your sample ballot to find your polling location. It will be printed on the back cover.
If you live in L.A. County you can also check it online here.
If you live in Orange County you find it here. Be aware many polling places have recently changed in Orange County, so check your location carefully.
The online voter registration deadline for the Nov. 6 election is Oct. 22.
The fastest way to register to vote and update your voter registration is online.
If you’ve moved recently, you should make sure that your voter registration is updated so that you receive the correct ballot. You can do that online, too.
Miss the deadline? You can still vote conditionally in most elections. You’ll need to visit your county elections office or another location, conditionally register and vote a provisional ballot.
Yes, but you will need to re-register. Do so as soon as possible and definitely by Oct. 22 to avoid problems. You can change your affiliation or register as “No Party Preference” online.
Be sure you’re checking the party option you want: Thousands of California independent voters mistakenly signed up for the far-right American Independent Party, founded by former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, a segregationist.
Yes. USPS does not update your voter registration. You should re-register here to ensure that you get the correct ballot.
You can always check your registration status and information online, just for peace of mind!
Yes. When you go to register to vote you’ll see an option to list cross streets instead of a residential address. You can put the cross streets that are near where you’ve been staying, this is needed so that election officials can assign you a precinct. If you choose this option you will need to input a mailing address so that you can receive your sample ballot and other voting materials. L.A. County election officials tell us this can be a P.O. Box, or a mailing address for a family member or friend … anywhere that you’ll be able to get mail.
The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 22. If you miss this deadline you can conditionally register to vote by going to your county elections office or an eligible location.
Call your county elections office with any questions, the full list of California offices is available here.
If you are registered as a permanent vote by mail voter, but have not received your ballot by Oct. 24 it’s a good idea to call your county’s elections office to make sure nothing is amiss.
However, if you’ve requested a one-time vote by mail ballot, those can take a bit longer. In fact, the deadline to request one is Oct. 30.
If you live in LA County call: 1-800-815-2666
If you live in Orange County call: 714-567-7600
For all other counties in California, check this list for contact details.
You can request a vote-by-mail ballot until Oct. 30. The fastest way to request a mail-in ballot is online.
Once you've completed your mail ballot, the amount of postage to send it in varies by county. In L.A. County, no postage is necessary for the November 2018 election — you’re covered.
In Orange County, the postal rate is 50 cents. A single first-class stamp will cover the postage.
For more information on vote-by-mail, read our story on LAist.com.
Everything You Need To Know About Voting By Mail
By Nov. 6, Election Day. If you’re mailing in your ballot make sure it’s postmarked by this date or it will not be counted.
No — it’s optional for L.A. County voters. And if you live in Orange County, you won’t even get one!
It depends, but if you submit it as soon as possible, it should be included in the first count after polls close on Election Day.
L.A. County tells us all votes received and processed by Monday, Nov. 5 (the day before the election) will be included in the first count. This means the sooner you turn it in, the better chance the County will have processed it in time.(Orange County said if your ballot is received by Monday, Nov. 5, it will definitely be processed and included in that first count.)
If your vote-by-mail ballot is not processed by the Monday before the election, it will be verified and counted in the 30-day period after the election when they go through all votes that were not in the initial count. (As long as it’s postmarked by Election Day or turned in to an approved location by that day.)
This means that if you want to be included in that first count, your best options are to 1) mail your ballot in as soon as possible to ensure its processed by the Monday before Election Day, 2) drop it off at one of L.A. County's approximately 150 drop-off locations as soon as possible to ensure its processed by the Monday before Election Day or 3) surrender your vote-by-mail ballot and vote in person at your polling place on Election Day.
One note: Even though it may seem like it would be more secure and immediate to directly turn your vote-by-mail ballot in to your polling place, it actually ensures your ballot wouldn't be included in the first count, because they would still have to verify your eligibility and make sure you didn't vote provisionally anywhere else on Election Day. So definitely avoid that option if you want your vote to be counted right away.
You can also always check if your vote-by-mail ballot was counted online, for peace of mind. You can find your county and the link to check your ballot status here.
Yes, but you have to bring your vote-by-mail ballot to your polling location and turn it in — otherwise, you'll have to cast a provisional ballot. This is so election officials can verify that no one is voting twice.
Yes! You can leave it at a designated drop-off location. This year, L.A. County has about 150 locations and Orange County has 12 locations. Plus, you can always leave it at your County elections office or at an early voting center.
If you’re down to the wire, you can also bring it to any polling place within the County you’re registered to vote in on Election Day and drop it off there.
Each voter has to fill out and sign their own ballots themselves, which means you will have to mail it to them for them to complete … then they can mail it back themselves. Just make sure to do all of this with enough time before election day. All ballots need to be postmarked and on their way to election officials by Nov. 6 to be counted.
If your family member plans to be away for an extended period of time but voting in California, they could update their vote-by-mail address so the ballot would go directly there in the future. They can check their registration and update their address online here.
You have two options.The first is you can bring your vote-by-mail ballot to a polling location on Election Day, turn it in and vote in person on a new ballot.
Your second option is to cast your ballot as is, and the rest of your votes will still count!
Other tips: If you mess up before Election Day, you can request a new vote-by-mail ballot through your County's election office. But make sure you do it ASAP to avoid complications — the sooner, the better.
If you live in L.A. County and need a new ballot, call the Registrar's office at 1-800-815-2666 and select the Vote by Mail option. It is a phone tree, but you can reach a real person between 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday and 8 am and 4 pm the two weekends prior to Election Day, when L.A. County's early voting centers are open.
If you’re in Orange County, you can request a replacement ballot by visiting ocvote.com/replacement or calling the Registrar's office 714-567-7600. You can reach a real person on the phone between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, plus the weekend before Election Day (Nov. 3-4).
In Orange County and L.A. County, election officials prefer that you use a pen with blue or black ink. However, if you mistakenly use pencil your votes will still be counted.
A lot! Among the long list of contests facing voters in November: the governor’s race, U.S. Senate race, 20 California Senate district races, 80 California Assembly races and 53 U.S House of Representatives races.
Plus there are a bunch of other races, including for California attorney general, secretary of state, school superintendent, controller, insurance commissioner, judges, and Board of Equalization members.
Races and ballot measures on your ballot will depend on where you live. Los Angeles and Orange counties both have sheriff races on the ballot, for example. Voters in Orange County’s fourth district also have a Board of Supervisors’ race to consider.
KPCC has also partnered with MapLight, a nonprofit that researches the influence of money on politics, and the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund to provide a customized online voter guide called Voter’s Edge.
Just type in your address and you’ll get all the information on the candidates and ballot measures that you and your neighbors will be voting on. That includes candidate bios, their campaign contributions and who endorsed them.
More information will be added to the voter guide as we get closer to Election Day.
Please let us know if you need help finding anything.
Here are a few tips:
If you're registered to vote, there are two separate guides that will be arriving by snail mail to help you navigate the election, if they haven’t arrived already. They are:
The statewide guide can be downloaded online.
L.A. County is switching to a new vote by mail ballot system that looks very different than previous vote-by-mail ballots. Officials hope the redesigned materials will make it easier and more convenient to vote-by-mail.
This election is the first time these new voting materials are being used. No postage is required on the new ballots.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about the new system.
All registered voters in L.A. County should have received a mailing and/or email informing them of the change. You can also learn more about the change on the county’s website.
The California Secretary of State’s website has a helpful list of county elections offices.
No, it’s up to you. But there are plenty of important races in this year’s election to weigh in on if you choose.
If you’re not sure where you stand on a certain race or measure, you can check out KPCC’s election resources to find more information — Voter’s Edge uses your zip code to create a guide for your personal ballot, and Voter Game Plan covers many of the statewide races and measures.
Plus, if there’s something you can’t find, we’re here to help! You can submit a question for the Human Voter Guide team in the box above.
You have a few.
If you haven’t already opted into voting by mail permanently, you can request a one-time vote-by-mail ballot to be sent to your home or the location you’ll be staying in. The best thing to do is call your County registrar’s office to make sure the timing is correct and your ballot is going to the right place. The deadline is Oct. 30.
If your vote-by-mail ballot has already arrived, you can have a friend or family member mail it to you so that you can fill it out from wherever you are.
Your other option is to vote early, which brings us to...
Yes! Counties across California have options for voters to cast their ballot in person before Election Day.
If you live in L.A. County, there will be 10 early voting centers open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the two weekends leading up to Election Day (Oct. 27-28 and Nov. 3-4). You can read more about voting early in L.A. County and find your closest early voting center here. Or, starting Oct. 9, you can vote early between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office in Norwalk, CA.
If you live in Orange County, you can vote early at one of 12 locations starting 10 days before the election. They’re open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Oct. 27 through Nov. 2. The hours extend from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m Nov. 3 through Nov. 5.
Or, if you live in another county, you can check for the early voting options available to you online.
Mary started this project — which we dubbed the Human Voter Guide — with the hopes of helping people navigate elections and voting in Southern California. No question is too small or too complicated for her.
Since starting in May 2016, Mary has helped thousands of voters clear their personal election hurdles by demystifying how to register to vote, explaining the vote-by-mail process and deciphering the complexities of voting while out of state.
The project is edited by Senior Editor Sandra Oshiro. Read the archive or learn more about the project’s evolution in this Medium post. You can also hear Mary answer questions on KPCC’s radio show Take Two.
Questions about this project? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.