Human Voter Guide: last-minute tips for Election Day

FILE PHOTO: Felix Martinez of El Sereno votes at a polling place inside Barrio Action Youth & Family Center on during the California primary election.
FILE PHOTO: Felix Martinez of El Sereno votes at a polling place inside Barrio Action Youth & Family Center on during the California primary election.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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We're in the home stretch as Californians and the rest of the nation heads to the polls Tuesday.

Remember, if you have a plan, your voting will go easier. We've got links on our Voter Game Plan page to help you prepare and a Voter's Guide to help you find your polling place and study the candidates and issues. Our listeners tell us the guide is terrific. Check it out.

Here's what we're hearing from you and what you need to know:

Q: Let's start with vote by mail ballots. Some people still haven’t received them, right? 

Yes. Here’s what’s going on: vote by mail has been on the rise in California and that’s caused some challenges for counties that have to mail out large numbers of vote by mail ballots.

On top of that, voter registration numbers in California are way up. People who requested vote by mail ballots close to the deadline may see delays getting them in the mail.

This seems to be a bigger problem in Los Angeles County than Orange County. Orange County has already mailed out all of its vote by mail ballots. That’s not the case in L.A. county, so keep checking your mailbox if you’re waiting.

Q: So what can people do if they don’t receive their vote by mail ballots by Election Day?

You can go to any polling location within your county and vote provisionally. Don’t worry, provisional ballots are all counted if voters are properly registered. Here's information on provisional ballots from the L.A. county registrar. You can also check the status of your provisional ballot 30 days after the election.

You can further go to your county elections office and vote with a regular ballot if you don’t want to vote provisionally. Here's where to reach county elections offices.

A tip for Orange County voters: you’ve got a new option this year. You can go by one of the county’s new vote centers Monday, and cast a regular ballot.

Q: Sierra Madre listener Greg Eisenberg asks: My question is if voting by mail and I made a mistake on a particular election, is my entire ballot invalid or just that election invalid? And how would I go about correcting the situation?

If you make a mistake on your ballot, don’t worry. You can cross it out and initial your correct choice. Mistakes don’t invalidate your ballot. It will likely get manually checked. All of your selections will still be counted.

I found out that apparently white out is very common on vote by mail ballots. You can totally use it! Like I mentioned, initial your corrections.

Q: Remind us, what's the deadline for mailing in vote by mail ballots?

All ballots need to be postmarked by Election Day – so Tuesday, Nov. 8 – to count. They have to arrive by Monday, Nov. 14. You can also drop off your vote by mail ballots at polling locations. Don’t forget to seal and sign them.

L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan conducted a Q&A on Facebook Live Monday afternoon that addressed more vote by mail questions:


Q: OK, now some questions to help people who plan to vote in person Tuesday. This next question comes from someone we all know – KPCC’s Sharon McNary: If I registered at the very last minute, or maybe in the last couple of days, is my name going to be printed on the voting rolls at the polling places?

Anyone who registered on or before the Oct. 24 deadline will likely be on the supplemental voter roll when they go to their polling location. If poll workers are having trouble finding you, don’t hesitate to ask them to check the supplemental voter roll or you can ask to speak to a supervisor.

Sometimes, persistence really pays off on voting day. I encourage everyone to ask questions and really engage with the process.

If you registered after Oct. 24, unfortunately, you’re out of luck for this election.

Q: And if people still encounter problems at the polls, what should they do?

It’s important to report any issues you run into so election officials are aware of problems that pop up. You can start with the supervisor at your polling place to resolve any problem. Then ask if you can vote provisionally until any issues are resolved.

Our Human Voter Guide hotline will be going strong all day long tomorrow — that's 323-538-5722.

KPCC listeners can send in any questions or concerns that they run into and we’ll be replying with help throughout Election Day.

Q: Any other last-minute tips for voters out there?

I wanted to share a few suggestions we received from a KPCC listener and long time poll worker, Bob Silver, for this. He’s a poll worker in Silver Lake.

1. Bring your sample ballot with you. Many polling locations cover several precincts so it helps poll workers speed you through the process if you have your sample ballot.

2. If you have received a vote by mail ballot by mail and had not mailed it, bring it with you even if it is not filled out. You must return that vote by mail ballot to receive an in-person one at the polling station. Otherwise, you will be required to use a provisional ballot.

3. Finally, check your sample ballot for your polling location. Those locations often change from election to election. Another way to check your polling location is here on the Secretary of State's website.

Voting has begun in California. KPCC is here for you and will help you develop your Voter Game Plan. Use our Voter's Guide to find your personalized ballot or use the form below.