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 percent 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 percent 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.

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 and Late October: In-Person Voting

If you’d like to cast your ballot in-person before Election Day, Southern California counties offer services at vote centers. You’ll need to check with your county listed below. Mail-in ballot dropoff box locations also will be available.

Los Angeles County: Select vote centers open for in-person voting Oct. 24. All locations will be open beginning Oct. 30. Voting early at the registrar’s headquarters will start on Oct. 5. Locations of 400 vote-by-mail dropboxes will be posted 30 days prior to Election Day.

Orange County: There are a few options for in-person early voting in Orange County — vote centers, mobile locations and the supersite at Honda Center. Pop-up vote centers open Oct. 24. Early voting locations, including the Honda Center in Anaheim, will be open for voting and ballot drop-off Oct. 30.

Mascot Wild Wing of the Anaheim Ducks demonstrates the voting process during a press preview of a voting center to be used during the 2020 presidential election at the Honda Center. The vote center includes both drive-thru and walk-in voting. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Riverside County: Voting at the registrar of voters office begins Oct. 5, but check the county’s site for details about dates and hours. Other sites will be open Oct. 23 through 25.

San Bernardino County: Voting begins Oct. 5 at the county registrar’s office, then other locations open the week before Election Day.

Ventura County: Early voting locations open Oct. 31 in Ventura County.

Oct. 27: Last Day to Request a Mail-In Ballot to Be Mailed

If you didn’t receive you 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. Under California elections code, voters who are in line by the time polls close must be allowed to cast ballots. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Nov. 3.


By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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