California Special Election: Tuesday, May 19, 2009
 Tuesday, May 19, 2009 Official Voter Information Guide Official Voter Information Guide

How to Vote

You can vote in person at your assigned polling place on Election Day or you can vote by mail on a vote–by–mail ballot.

Voting at the Polling Place on Election Day
Voting By Mail

Voting at the Polling Place on Election Day

Polls are open in California from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Some counties also offer early voting at a few polling places before Election Day. When you arrive at your polling place, a poll worker will ask for your name and check an official list of registered voters for that polling place. After you sign next to your name on the list, the poll worker will give you a paper ballot, unique passcode, or computer memory card, depending on the voting system your county uses. Go to a private booth and begin voting. Poll workers are there to assist voters with the voting process. If you are not familiar with how to cast a ballot, ask a poll worker for instructions on how to use the voting system. If you make a mistake in marking the ballot, ask a poll worker for instructions on how to correct a mistake on the ballot. If you need to, you can ask for a new ballot and start over.

State and federal laws require that all voters be able to cast their ballots privately and independently. Some voting systems have been specifically designed with this in mind to assist voters with disabilities. Each polling place is required to have at least one voting machine that permits voters, including those who are blind or visually impaired, to cast a ballot without assistance. The voting machine also must permit you to privately and independently verify your vote choices and, if there is an error, permit you to correct those choices before casting the final ballot.

Voting By Mail

After you mark your choices on your vote-by-mail ballot, put it in the official envelope provided by your county elections office and seal it. Place the proper postage on the envelope and sign the outside of the envelope where directed. You may return your voted vote–by–mail ballot by:

  • Mailing it to your county elections office;
  • Returning it in person to any polling place or elections office within your county on Election day; or
  • Authorizing a legally allowable third party (spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, or a person residing in the same household as you) to return the ballot on your behalf to any polling place or elections office within your county on Election Day.

In any case, your vote–by–mail ballot must be received by the time polls close at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots cannot be counted.

Even if you receive your vote–by–mail ballot, you can change your mind and vote at your polling place on Election Day. However, you must bring your vote–by–mail ballot to the polling place and give it to a poll worker in exchange for a polling place ballot. If you do not have your vote-by-mail ballot, you will be allowed to vote on a “provisional” ballot, which will be counted after elections officials have confirmed that you are registered to vote and you did not vote more than once in that election.

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