California no longer uses the term "absentee ballots." County elections officials mail ballots to all active registered voters about a month before the election. You choose whether to vote in person at your voting location or return the ballot you received either by mail or by dropping it off.
- By Mail: If you wish to use the mailed ballot instead of voting in person, fill it out and mail it back early so that it is postmarked no later than Election Day. You do not need a stamp to mail back your ballot in the return envelope provided.
- Dropoff: You may drop off your ballot at any voting location in your county. Your county will also open secure ballot drop-off locations starting about a month before Election Day.
- In Person: For voting in person on Election Day, the polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm.
Early Voting. You may also be able to vote in person before Election Day. Check caearlyvoting.sos.ca.gov.
Watch How to Return Your Completed Vote-by-Mail Ballot.
If you failed to receive your ballot in the mail, you have lost or destroyed your original ballot, and you are unable to vote in person at the polls, you may apply for a replacement ballot with this form or by contacting your County Elections Office.
Same-Day Registration and Voting
Missed the voter registration deadline? No problem. You can still register and vote in the election at any voting location up to and through Election Day. If you look up and go to your assigned voting location, then your ballot will be sure to include all the contests on which you’re allowed to vote.
If you need to register after the deadline and want to vote from home, contact your County Elections Office to find out how to register and get a vote-by-mail ballot through Election Day. Learn more from the Secretary of State.
Elections officials process applications 29 days to 7 days before an election. You may request a Vote-By-Mail ballot more than 29 days before an election but not fewer than 7 days in advance. But if it’s 6 or fewer days before the election, you may qualify for an emergency ballot.
If you are voting by mail for the first time and did not provide your driver's license number, CA ID number, or the last 4 digits of your Social Security number on your registration application, you must provide a photocopy of the above ID with your vote-by-mail application. Other forms of ID include a recent utility bill, the county Voter Information Guide you received from your county elections office, or any other governmental agency document (like your passport, driver's license, student ID, etc.). If your ID cannot be verified, your vote-by-mail ballot will not be opened.
You can find a complete list of acceptable IDs here.
Track your Vote-By-Mail Ballot
You can track the status of your vote-by-mail ballot by visiting the "My Voter Status" website and the Where's My Ballot website.
Late Vote-By-Mail Ballot Requests
If you would like to request a Vote-By-Mail ballot after 7 days before the election, you will need to apply in person at your county elections office. Your county elections office may allow you to apply over the phone; just call to see if your office allows telephone applications.
Even if you receive your vote-by-mail ballot, you can still vote at a polling place on Election Day. Bring your unused vote-by-mail ballot to your local polling place anytime between 7:00 am and 8:00 pm. on Election Day and give it to a poll worker, who will exchange it for a polling place ballot you can use instead. If you do not bring your vote-by-mail ballot with you, you will not lose your opportunity to vote at a polling place on Election Day. If the poll worker is able to verify that you have not returned your voted ballot, then you will be given a regular ballot. If not, a poll worker will provide you with a provisional ballot, which will be counted after your county elections official has confirmed you are registered to vote in that county and did not vote more than once in that election.
Overseas citizens and U.S. military personnel can find information on how to register to vote and request a Vote-By-Mail ballot at the Overseas Vote Foundation.
Request your Ballot