Election Day is Nov. 3, but there are some important dates coming up on the election calendar in the weeks before that first Tuesday in November.
The timeline for voters in 2020 -- and how and where they'll cast ballots -- has been shaped in part by Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive order in May that mandated vote-by-mail ballots be sent to all registered California voters due to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 72% of California voters cast vote-by-mail ballots in the March 3 primary election, which was before the state's first-in-the-nation stay-home order. In the 2016 General Election, 69% of California voters cast mail-in ballots, a 12-percentage point increase from the 2010 election.
No matter how you plan to cast your ballot, here are some key dates to know, starting with when you can expect to receive a ballot.
Oct 5: Mailing of Vote-by-Mail Ballots
County elections officials will mail vote-by-mail ballots no later than Oct. 5. In California, all registered voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot for the General Election. Registered voters do not have to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot for this election. You can use this tool to track your ballot.
Once you have your ballot, you can mail it back at any time but it must be postmarked by Nov. 3 to be counted. You can drop it off at any blue U.S. Postal Collection Box or at any of the 126 certified mail ballot drop-off locations (check location hours) starting on Oct. 6.
Oct. 19: Online/Mail Registration Deadline
Oct. 19 is the last day to register online or by mail to vote, but don't worry if you miss out. In the following 15-day window, you can register to vote at early voting locations (see below) and even on Election Day, then file a provisional ballot.
Not sure if you're registered? Click here.
Oct 5 to Nov. 3: In-Person Voting at the Registrar's Office
If you'd like to cast your ballot in-person before Election Day, there are a few options for San Diego County voters.
You can vote in-person starting as early as Oct. 5 if you go to the Registrar of Voters Office located at 5600 Overland Ave., San Diego, CA 92123. The office will be open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Election Day.
The registrar's office will also be open Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 from 8 to 5 p.m. On Election Day, Nov. 3, the polling location will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
You must wear a face mask if voting in person and be aware that lines may be long. The registrar's office recommends voting early when possible.
Oct 31 to Nov 3: In-Person Voting at 'Super Polls'
The San Diego County Registrar of Voters is also extending the number of days residents can vote in-person at their assigned polling places. Polling locations will be open this year from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 from 8 to 5 p.m. and on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Remember, polling places are limited in number this year, so your usual polling place is likely different. Use this guide to check where your assigned polling place is this year.
You can also drop off your mail-in ballot to any of these polling locations as well. There are also 126 certified ballot box drop-off locations that will be available starting Oct. 6.
Oct. 27: Last Day to Request a Mail-In Ballot to Be Mailed
If you didn't receive your mail-in ballot and you'd like one mailed to you, you'll need to request one from your county elections office.
Nov. 3: Election Day
Polls in California will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can vote in-person or drop off your mail-in ballot on Election Day at any of the Super Polls or the Registrar of Voter's Office.
Under California elections code, voters who are in line by the time polls close must be allowed to cast ballots.
If you vote by mail, you must ensure your ballot will be postmarked by Nov. 3 for it to be counted. It's safer to do it earlier.
Dec 3: Certification of Election
The San Diego County Registrar of Voters has one month to certify the election results. That means counting and counting and counting. Results will start rolling in after the polls close at 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, but the final results of local races won't be known until Dec. 3. What helps to know results earlier is getting your mail-in ballots in earlier.