Human Voter Guide returns, says get ready for early voting

Felix Martinez of El Sereno votes at a polling place inside Barrio Action Youth & Family Center on Tuesday afternoon, June 7, 2016, during the California primary election.
Felix Martinez of El Sereno votes at a polling place inside Barrio Action Youth & Family Center on Tuesday afternoon, June 7, 2016, during the California primary election.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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It's just over five weeks before the general election, but casting ballots starts as early as Monday when early voting locations begin to open in some places across California. 

To help you get prepped and find answers to your election questions, the Human Voter Guide is back.

The Human Voter Guide is our Q&A segment on KPCC's newsmagazine show Take Two and our helpful series on the station's website. It will help you wade through California's confusing election rules and complexities and assist in your quest to become an informed voter.

This is the first segment in the Human Voter Guide series leading up to the general election. You can also review voting tips from the series' pre-primary run

Have you got a question about voting? Call 323-538-5722 and leave a voice mail or send a text. 

Let's get started:

Q: When it comes to voting in the California general election, what do we need to know?

There are some really important deadlines coming up. 

Q: What information do you need to register to vote? And how exactly do you register?

To register to vote, you'll need your California driver license or state ID card number, the last four digits of your Social Security number and your date of birth.

For many, the easiest way to register to vote is to visit the Secretary of State's website. You can also use the website to change your political party. 

If you prefer to pick up a form and register in person, you can do so at many government offices, including the California Department of Motor Vehicles and post offices. 

Q: And early voting – remind us how that works?

The cool thing about early voting is that once it starts, you can go directly to your county elections office, request a ballot and vote in person. This is a good option for early birds as there are not likely to be long lines. 

You can also vote early by filling out your vote-by-mail ballot and dropping it off at the same office.

Also, Los Angeles County voters can take advantage of a new program that's expanding early voting to about 75 different locations. You can find more information and a list of the locations on the county's website

Q: The Secretary of State began mailing out sample ballots and the 224-page Voter Information Guide last week. What else is coming in the mail?

The next thing arriving in mailboxes will be the vote-by-mail ballots. Those will be mailed out starting on Oct. 10 or Oct. 11, depending on your county. 

Also, if you haven't received your Voter Information Guide in the mail yet, check out the interactive online version. L.A. County voters can also look up PDF versions of their sample ballots online

Q: When it comes time to vote in November, is it possible to write in a candidate? 

For this answer, we turned to Kim Alexander, the president of the California Voter Foundation:

"You can do whatever you want on your ballot. But whether it’s going to be counted is another matter. And so, you know, there were a lot of people who wrote in names on the primary ballot, but they don’t get counted unless that candidate is a recognized write-in candidate," she said. 

So you can’t just write in anyone's name for president. Donald Duck, for example isn’t going to fly. The Secretary of State approves a list of write-in candidates and posts that list on its website. But that list won’t be available until the end of the month, so check back for that.

Q: Are there other races where you can write in candidates, or it that just for president?

Some county seats in California allow write-in candidates. For example, L.A. County has two open county supervisor seats. Those races could technically have write-in candidates who are approved, but a spokesman for the L.A. County Registrar's office says so far there are none.

Q: Where else can voters find answers to election-related questions?

On Thursday, KPCC is hosting an event to answer more questions. The event is called "Hack the Vote – Pro Tips for Election Day.” The event begins at 7:30 pm in downtown LA. Free RSVPs and more information can be found here

Do you have your voter game plan? Use our Voter's Edge election guide to find your personalized ballot.

Series: Human Voter Guide

We're in the middle of one of the most contentious elections we've seen in a long time, so there's a lot of interest in voting this year. But there's also a lot of confusion. To help clear the way, we're introducing KPCC's Human Voter Guide, a series of questions-and-answers about the California elections.

Have a question? Email our senior political reporter Mary Plummer, tweet her @maryplummer or leave a voice mail or text at 323-538-5722.