Human Voter Guide reminder: early voting has started, time to prep

Early voting is underway in Los Angeles County. Voters can cast ballots in person at the register's main office in Norwalk or drop off their mail ballots at 75 locations around the county.
Early voting is underway in Los Angeles County. Voters can cast ballots in person at the register's main office in Norwalk or drop off their mail ballots at 75 locations around the county.
Sandra Oshiro/KPCC

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Los Angeles County opens its early voting location Tuesday at its headquarters in Norwalk.

Registered voters can get a ballot there, or drop off their vote-by-mail ballot, and be among the first in the county to participate in this year's contentious election.

Just as the Santa Ana winds mark autumn in Southern California, early voting is a clear sign that the casting of ballots is underway. That means now is the time for all good citizens to get ready, and the Human Voter Guide is here to help.

We've collected our election information and voter tools on our Voter Game Plan page. You can check out information on ballot measures and races in KPCC's voter guide. There's also a locator tool you can use to see which candidates and issues will be on the ballot where you live.

The Human Voter Guide is also hearing from you and the questions you have. We've gathered up answers to your latest election queries below.

If you've got a question, submit it in our comment box below, or call 323-538-5722 and leave a voice mail or send a text. You can also send a tweet to me @maryplummer or comment on KPCC's Facebook page.

Here we go:

Q: What do voters need to know about early voting?

Starting this week, you can head to the L.A. County registrar’s Norwalk office and vote in person.

The county is also starting to mail out vote-by-mail ballots, so keep an eye on your mailbox if you’re a mail-in voter. And if you’re not, you can still request a mail ballot online from L.A. County. 

Outside of L.A. County, check with your county registrar. Here's the Secretary of State's list of county election offices.

Q: You mentioned last week that L.A. County has about 75 locations where you can drop off vote-by-mail ballots. Where are those locations?

It's a new program and many city clerk offices throughout the county are participating. So, for example, if you live in Baldwin Park, San Marino, Malibu or Hawthorne, your city clerk’s office will be accepting your vote-by-mail ballots if you want to drop them off.

Here's a full list of participating sites. L.A. County also offers a look-up tool that helps you find your nearest drop off locations. 

Hours vary by location, but in general, you can drop off your mail ballot during regular business hours every weekday leading up to election day, Nov. 8.

Q: When is the last day to register to vote in the election?

The last day to register is Oct. 24. Don't put it off. Many millennials and first-time voters who wanted to vote for Bernie Sanders missed the deadline to register for the primaries.

You can register online on the Secretary of State's website. The online application is available in multiple languages besides English, including Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese.

Q: Our listener Ava DeCoudreaux had a question about the voter registration form and privacy. She asked whether the information submitted is ever made public.

Ava is transgender and points out this is a concern for many people in her community. It can keep some people from registering to vote for fear of being outed, since previous names that have been legally changed would be included in the registration information.

We got a similar question from a voter who was concerned that her home address would be made public and available to criminals looking to see where she lives.

The answer to this is a bit complicated. California’s elections code says that voter registration information is generally private. But it’s important to know that it can be accessed by some people: researchers, journalists, and candidates running for office, for example, can all request your information.

They won’t get everything that you write on the form. The data does include home address, but not a voter’s previous name(s), Social Security number, or driver’s license or state ID number, according to Sam Mahood, a spokesman for Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Another tip: some people can register to vote confidentially (victims of domestic violence, for example) with the Secretary of State's Safe at Home program. Call the Safe At Home program 877-322-5227 or use the online email form

Q: Are there election events coming up that can help us prepare for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors contests?

KPCC’s Larry Mantle, host of AirTalk, is moderating two debates for the open L.A. County supervisor seats.

The debate for the District 5 race, which covers northern L.A. County and cities like Pasadena, Palmdale and Lancaster, is happening Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum.

You can still RSVP for the free event. If you can’t make it in person, check out the live stream to be posted within a few days of the debate.

The debate for the District 4 race, covering the district that includes the South Bay and stretches east to Diamond Bar, is set for Oct. 25 in Cerritos. RSVP for that debate.

Q: What about events on the statewide ballot measures?

KPCC host Patt Morrison is holding a Props 'n' Pints event. We’ve had these in the past and they’ll be back again this year. It's set for Monday, Oct. 17,  at Angel City Brewery in downtown L.A.

There’s limited seating left so we suggest you register quickly or check out our live stream, which will be available online the day of the event

Another event to bone up on ballot measures is one co-hosted by the Los Angeles Times and a nonprofit called SeePolitical. It’s called “BallotCon” … it’s being billed as the first-ever California ballot measure convention, set for Oct. 29 at L.A. City Hall. You can find more information here.

Q: Is it too late to sign up to be a poll worker?

No, L.A. County voters is still recruiting volunteers. You may remember that there were shortages of poll workers in some precincts during the primary.

You can earn up to $175 if you sign up.

Poll workers say this is a lot of work, but it’s also a way to learn about the voting process, give back and get involved. You’ll learn about the challenges and also what works well. 

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.