How to Find Your Early Voting Site or Ballot Drop-Off Location

A voter receives an "I Voted" sticker at a new outdoor voting center near Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco on Oct. 5, 2020, the first day of early voting. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

This post was updated on Friday, Oct. 30 at 10:10 am. Leer en español

In these last days of the 2020 election, are you wondering where to vote early in person this election? Or where to drop off your completed mail-in ballot in the Bay Area? Read on.

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Dropping Off Your Mail-In Ballot

This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, every registered voter in California received a mail-in ballot without requesting it, in an attempt to avoid crowding at the polls.

If you haven't submitted your ballot yet, at this stage it's recommended you submit it by hand at a drop box specifically for vote-by-mail ballots. You can do that up to and including Election Day at 8 p.m. Find your nearest drop box.

You could still mail your completed ballot via the United States Postal Service at any collection box — the envelope doesn't require a stamp, and it'll be counted as long as it's postmarked by Election Day. But because the United States Post Office is recommending mailing your ballot no less than one week before Election Day, and that date has now passed, using a drop box is now the best way to really ensure your ballot reaches your county elections office in time to be counted.

You can also still sign up to track your ballot's progress, and be reassured that it's on its way.

When Is Early Voting Available in the Bay Area?

Now! As of October 5, in-person voting became available at every county registrar's office in the Bay Area. More early voting locations will open across the Bay Area starting October 31 (or October 30 in Contra Costa County). Find where to vote early in your county.

Remember: Bring the ballot you were mailed along with you when you go to vote in person. (Why? People who opt to vote-by-mail always have to bring their ballot with them if they decide to vote in person, as proof they didn't already mail it and aren't therefore voting twice — and this year, because all registered voters in California got a ballot in the mail , they all became mail-in voters by default.)

If you forget your ballot, or didn't receive one, you can still vote in person, but you may be required to vote provisionally (a vote that's subject to extra checks, i.e., that you're actually registered to vote in California, or that you didn't already complete and mail your ballot.) This extra layer of confirmation takes time, and therefore means your vote might not be counted on Election Day itself — although it'll eventually be counted.

The deadline to register to vote online was October 19. If you missed that deadline, don't worry: you can still register afterwards at one of these early voting locations via what's called Same Day Voter Registration (also known as Conditional Voter Registration.) You can then fill out and submit your ballot there and then.

In addition to voter registration, many voting locations also offer replacement ballots, accessible voting machines and language assistance for voters.

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How to Find Your Early Voting Site or Ballot Drop-Off Location in California:

  • Visit the State of California lookup tool
  • Enter your county — adding your city or zip code will give more localized results, but it's optional
  • Check the "Early Voting" and/or "Drop Off Location" boxes
  • Hit "Search" to see all of the early voting and drop off locations in that specified area

What's Different About In-Person Voting for Your County This Year?

Under a new state law, California counties now have greater flexibility for how they plan to offer in-person voting this election. Here’s how Bay Area counties are planning to hold the vote.

Alameda: Alameda County is opening 100 voting locations, down from the 800 polling places opened in 2018. But the county is offering early voting at all locations starting October 31, and early voting is now available at the Registrar of Voters’ Office. And any voter in the county can vote at any voting location — there will be no assigned polling places.

Contra Costa: Contra Costa County is operating its polling places as usual this year, with each voter assigned to a polling place. Early voting is now available at the Registrar of Voters' Office, and will be available at more than a dozen locations starting October 30.

Marin: Marin County is opening fewer polling places than in years past. Early voting is now available at the Registrar of Voters' Office and all polling places will be open for early voting starting October 31. Each voter will still be assigned a specific polling place.

Napa: Napa County operates under the Voters Choice Act. That means they will continue to allow any voter in the county to vote at any voting location. Early voting is now available at the Registrar of Voters’ Office, and all locations will open for early voting on October 31st.

San Francisco: San Francisco is operating its polling places as usual this year, with each voter assigned to a polling place. Early voting is available now outside of Bill Graham Civic Auditorium throughout October.

San Mateo: San Mateo County operates under the Voters Choice Act. That means they will continue to allow any voter in the county to vote at any voting location. Early voting is available now at the Elections Division office, the County Clerk’s office, and the South San Francisco Main Library. All locations will open for early voting on October 31st.

Santa Clara: Santa Clara County operates under the Voters Choice Act. That means they will continue to allow any voter in the county to vote at any voting location. Early voting is now available at the Registrar of Voters’ Office, and all locations will open for early voting starting October 31.

Solano: Solano County is operating its polling places as usual this year, with each voter assigned to a polling place. Early voting is now available at the Registrar of Voters’ Office.

Sonoma: Sonoma County is opening fewer voting locations than in years past. Early voting is now available at the Registrar of Voters’ Office, and all locations will open for early voting on October 31. Any voter in the county can vote at any voting location — there will be no assigned polling places.

What Else Do You Want to Know About Voting This Year?

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