Vote by Mail

Person dropping a completed vote-by-mail ballot into a postal service mailbox

 

On February 19, 2021, Governor Newsom signed a Senate Bill 29 that provides for all registered voters to receive ballots in the mail automatically for each election through the end of 2021.

If you want to learn more about voting by mail, we invite you to explore this page and to contact the Department of Elections with any questions.

Receiving and Tracking Your Ballot

The Department begins mailing vote-by-mail ballots approximately one month prior to Election Day.

Voters can check their registration status and track their ballots as they move through the steps of printing, assembly, delivery, and processing, using the Voter Portal.

Voters can also choose to receive automatic notifications on the status or their ballots via email, SMS (text), or voice call. Visit
wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov to sign up for this service.

Ensure Timely Delivery of Your Ballot by Keeping Your Address Up to Date!

There are three ways to update your home address or mailing address.

  1. Complete a Registration Update Form and return it to the Department.
  2. Re-register to vote at registertovote.ca.gov, or contact the Department for a paper application.
  3. Send a letter to the Department that includes your name, former residence, current residence, mailing address (if different), a certification by you, the voter, of the content of the written request as to its truthfulness and correctness, under penalty of perjury, and your dated signature.

If you prefer to receive your ballot at a temporary address for this election or need a replacement ballot, you can submit your request through the Voter Portal or by calling (415) 554-4375.

Voting Your Ballot

Your vote-by-mail ballot packet will contain an official ballot, an instructional insert, an official postage-paid return envelope, and an “I Voted” sticker.

Follow the instructions on the top of each ballot card to mark your selections, and be sure to check both sides of the cards for contests.

If you make a mistake and need a replacement ballot, submit your request through the Voter Portal or by calling (415) 554-4375.

When you are done voting, remove receipts from ballot cards, fold each card, put cards in the return envelope, and peel away the self-sealing strip to seal the envelope. You must sign the envelope for your ballot to be counted!

The envelope features signature line punch-outs to assist voters with visual impairments in locating the signature field. The envelope also provides instructions on how voters unable to sign may substitute a witnessed mark for a signature.

Upon receipt of your voted ballot, the Department will compare the signature on the envelope with your signature(s) in your voter record. If your signature has changed since you last registered to vote, be sure to reregister with your new signature as soon as possible.

Returning Your Ballot

To be counted, you must return your ballot on time!

If you return your ballot by mail, your ballot return envelope must be postmarked by Election Day, (check collection times if you use a blue USPS mailbox to mail your envelope on Election Day).

If you return your ballot in person to a polling place, voting center, or drop-off station, you must do so no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.

You may also return your ballot in any other county in California or authorize another person to drop off your ballot for you.

Voting by Mail FAQs

  1. How can I be sure my ballot is mailed to my current address?
  2. Do I need a stamp to mail my ballot?
  3. Do I need to sign the return envelope?
  4. If I mail my ballot on Election Day, will it arrive on time to be counted?
  5. How can I find the closest USPS blue box to mail my ballot?
  6. Can I return my ballot in person?
  7. How can I track my ballot?
  8. What if my ballot does not arrive in the mail?
  9. How can I help make sure all the selections on my ballot are counted?
  10. How can I get a replacement ballot?
  1. How can I be sure my ballot is mailed to my current address?
    Check your information at voterstatus.sos.ca.gov and if necessary, update your registration at registertovote.ca.gov. (The post office cannot forward official ballots.)
     
  2. Do I need a stamp to mail my ballot?
    No, the ballot return envelope is postage-paid.
     
  3. Do I need to sign the return envelope?
    Yes. If you do not sign the envelope or if the signature on the envelope does not compare to one in your voter record, the Department will not be able to count your ballot unless you provide additional information. If your signature has changed, please re-register.
     
  4. If I mail my ballot on Election Day, will it arrive on time to be counted?
    It depends. To be counted, your ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day. If you mail your ballot on Election Day, be sure to check the pickup time on the blue USPS collection box, home letterbox, or business mail drop. If the last pickup has already occurred, the ballot envelope will be postmarked late and will not be counted. The Department encourages voters to return their ballots as early as possible!
     
  5. How can I find the closest USPS blue box to mail my ballot?
    You can search for locations of USPS boxes and pickup times at usps.com/locator.
     
  6. Can I return my ballot in person?
    Yes. You may return your ballot to any polling place, voting center, or drop-off station in California.
     
  7. How can I track my ballot?
    Go to sfelections.org/voterportal to track your ballot, from assembly up through delivery, verification, and counting. To sign up for notifications via email, text, or voice message, visit wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov.
     
  8. What if my ballot does not arrive in the mail?
    Use the Voter Portal to track your ballot or request a replacement ballot, and contact the Department of Elections if you have questions or need assistance.
     
  9. How can I help make sure all the selections on my ballot are counted?
    Follow the instructions printed on each ballot card carefully. After marking your ballot, double-check you have not made a mistake, such as only partially filling the selection ovals, making too many selections in a contest, or making unintentional marks. If you make a mistake, you may request a replacement ballot.
     
  10. How can I get a replacement ballot?
    On or before October 28, you may go to sfelections.org/voterportal or call (415) 554-4375 to request a mailed replacement ballot. After October 28, contact the Department as soon as possible to review your options.
     

Questions? Need more information? Please contact the Department of Elections at (415) 554-4375 or sfvote@sfgov.org.