With mail-in ballots arriving in Sacramento County this week, voting in the November election can be just another item on your to-do list.
Starting Tuesday up until Nov. 6, Sacramento County registered voters can use one of 53 drop boxes located across cities and neighborhoods to drop off their marked and signed ballots. Voters can also return their ballots by mail or at one of dozens of vote centers in the county that are open every day, including weekends, starting Oct. 27.
“It’s no longer election day, but election month,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg at a news conference in front of a Bel Air supermarket in Elk Grove, home to one of the new drop boxes.
The new system, first implemented in the county for the June primary, is aimed at boosting voter turnout. In Sacramento County, total turnout among registered voters in June was 42 percent, up from just below 30 percent in 2014.
If you voted during the June primary, not much has changed. There are additional vote centers for the general election, for those who wish to vote in person or request a replacement ballot.
But you might still have questions about how to vote. We’ve got answers.
How do I know if I can vote?
Find out if you’re registered by checking the Secretary of State’s website. If you’re not, you can register online through the California Secretary of State website.
Who gets a Vote by Mail ballot?
Every registered voter in Sacramento County will automatically receive a Vote by Mail ballot. When you receive it, mark your ballot and make sure to sign the return envelope that comes with the ballot.
Are there other counties that use Vote by Mail ballots?
Sacramento is one of five counties in California — including Madera, Napa, Nevada, and San Mateo — that have adopted the Voter’s Choice Act for the November election, which allows voters to cast their ballots just under a month before Election Day.
When’s the earliest I can drop off my Vote by Mail ballot?
You can drop off your ballot during normal business hours at a drop box starting Oct. 9. Drop boxes will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Election Day.
Where do I drop off my ballots? What do they look like?
There are 53 ballot drop boxes across Sacramento County, including at libraries, grocery stores, community centers and more. A complete list can be found on the Sacramento County’s elections website.
Look out for a tall black box with a narrow slot for your ballot and a Sacramento County seal.
Do I have to drop them off at the ballot box closest to where I live?
No, unlike going to an assigned polling place, you can use any ballot box in the county to submit your mailed ballot.
Does using the drop box require a stamp?
No, just your signature.
What about my usual polling place? Can I still vote “at the polls”?
Your usual polling station may not be open any more, but you can still head to a voting center if you prefer dropping off your ballot in person. A voting center offers more services than a drop box location, such as providing a replacement ballot.
From now until the election, Sacramento County voters can head to the Voter Registration and Elections Office, 7000 65th St., Suite A, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
You can also vote at one of 18 vote centers starting Oct. 27. The county will then expand the number of vote centers to 78 on Saturday, Nov. 3. Find your nearest center using the Sacramento County website.
What if I have other questions?
For more information, call the Sacramento County Voter Registration and Elections Office at (916) 875-6451.
What if I live in Placer County?
If you are registered to receive vote-by-mail ballots, you can send your ballot via mail, in person or at a 24-hour drop-off box located at the Placer County Office of Elections or at any polling place in Placer County from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
If you aren’t already registered to receive a mail ballot, you can head to the county’s elections office at 2956 Richardson Drive in Auburn and fill out a ballot there. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
To find your polling place, go to https://www.placerelections.com/polling-place-locator/.
For more information, call the Placer County Office of Elections at (530) 886-5650.
What if I live in El Dorado County?
Registered residents for vote by mail ballots can mail or drop off ballots at the county elections office, 2850 Fairlane Court in Placerville up until Election Day during normal business hours Monday through Friday.
There is an additional South Lake Tahoe office where ballots can be submitted at 3368 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, Suite 108.
To find your polling place, go to https://www.edcgov.us/Government/Elections/Pages/VoterGuide.aspx.
For more information, call the elections office in Placerville at (530) 621-7480 or, from El Dorado Hills, (916) 358-3555, ext. 7480. The South Lake Tahoe office can be reached at (530) 573-7955, ext. 7480.
What if I live in Yolo County?
Residents can vote by mail if they registered to receive those ballots, or drop off ballots at the elections office at 625 Court St. Room B-05 in Woodland, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
To find your polling place, go to www.yoloelections.org/voting/polling_place.
For more information from Yolo County elections, call (530) 666-8133.