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Find Your Early Voting Site or Ballot Drop-Off Location for the 2024 California Primary Election

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A hand places a ballot into a red ballot box.
Once you've filled out your ballot, where can you submit it? (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Updated noon, Friday

California’s 2024 Primary Election is almost upon us, and most registered voters should have received their ballot in the mail.

While Election Day itself is Tuesday, March 5, you have several options for casting your vote before then. So keep reading if you’re a Bay Area resident still wondering where to drop off your completed mail-in ballot, where you can vote early in person, or how to find your polling place on Election Day.

And if you’re looking for information about what’s on your ballot, take a look at KQED’s Voter Guide, which unpacks ballot measures and compares candidates in the most important races in the Bay Area.

Jump straight to:

If you’re concerned you might have made a mistake when filling out your ballot, read our guide to addressing common errors on your ballot (before you mail it) — and find out how to get a fresh ballot or vote in person if you really messed up. You can also learn how to vote in California’s presidential primary election if you’re registered as a “no party preference” voter.

Jump straight to:

Can I mail my ballot through the Postal Service?

Yes, you can mail your completed ballot via the U.S. Postal Service at any regular collection box. The envelope is postage paid, so it doesn’t require a stamp, and it’ll be counted as long as it’s postmarked by Election Day (March 5) and arrives at your county registrar’s office by March 12.

If you’re planning to mail your ballot on Election Day, be very sure you don’t miss the last collection time for that specific mailbox (which at many locations is 5 p.m. or earlier). You also shouldn’t drop off your ballot on Election Day at a post office that’s already closed. Doing either will mean your ballot will not be postmarked on Election Day and won’t be counted when it reaches your county’s election office.

Can I drop off my ballot in a drop box or at a voting location?

Once you complete your mail-in ballot, you can drop it off at an official drop box or voting location instead of mailing it via a U.S. Postal Service collection box. Ballot drop boxes open by Feb. 6. Find your nearest drop box or voting location.

A few reasons you might prefer to hand-deliver your completed ballot:

  • Peace of mind: There’s a satisfaction that comes with knowing your ballot should now travel straight to your county elections office rather than going through USPS collection and sorting for delivery.
  • Timing: If Election Day is drawing near, using a drop box or a voting location to drop off your ballot directly is the best way to be sure it’ll reach your county elections office in time to be counted.
  • Assistance: If you drop off your ballot at a voting location during operating hours and you have a few lingering questions about your ballot or the process, chances are good that you’ll find someone there to help answer them.

Regardless of how you deliver it, you can sign up to track your ballot’s progress with the “Where’s My Ballot?” online tool and be reassured it’s on its way to being counted. And if you’re still waiting to receive your ballot entirely, you can use that same tool to verify it was sent out. Jump straight to what to do if you haven’t received your ballot yet.

Hand holding ballot drops it in red cardboard ballot box
A San Francisco resident drops off a mail-in ballot at a voting center near City Hall on Oct. 6, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

I want to vote in person. When is early voting available in the Bay Area?

Starting Feb. 5, in-person voting is available at every county registrar’s office (also known as your county’s elections office) in the Bay Area. Find your county registrar’s office and opening hours.

More early voting locations are open across the Bay Area starting Feb. 24. Find where to vote early in your county and when those locations open.

Remember: If you’d like to cast a ballot in person, it’s a good idea to bring the blank ballot you were mailed, as some counties may require you to vote provisionally if you don’t bring it. If you’re issued a new ballot when you vote in person, any ballot you left at home will be canceled.

Provisional votes are subject to extra checks — confirming that you’re actually registered to vote in California, or that you didn’t already complete and mail your ballot — and this extra layer of confirmation takes time. That means that although your vote will eventually be counted, it might not be tallied on Election Day itself.

Through Feb. 20, you can register to vote online at registertovote.ca.gov. But if you miss that deadline, don’t worry: You can still register in person at your county elections office or an open voting location after that via the same day registration (also known as conditional voter registration). This system enables you to fill out and submit your ballot then and there, up until when polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day, March 5.

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

How can I find my early voting site or ballot drop-off?

  • Visit the state of California lookup tool, where you will:
    • 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 the early voting and drop-off locations in that area.

If you vote early in your county, remember that voting hours may differ by location, and some locations may not be open every day.

My ballot hasn’t arrived yet. When should I worry?

If you’re worried that your ballot hasn’t arrived yet, make sure you’re not worrying too early, as the deadline for counties to send out ballots was Feb. 5.

But if it gets to late February and your ballot still hasn’t materialized, don’t panic: You have options. Here’s what to do:

Check that you’re actually registered to vote — and to the right address.

Input your details on the secretary of state’s voter status page to check your registration status. This will show whether you’re actually registered to vote and to which address. It should also show whether your ballot was mailed out.

You can also use the Where’s My Ballot? Tool to check whether your ballot has been sent.

If you’re registered to the wrong address, you can update it before Feb. 20. 

If you update your voter registration and address using the secretary of state’s voter status page before the Feb. 20 deadline to register online, your county will cancel the ballot that went to your old address and send you a new one.

And if it turns out your ballot was missing because your voter registration wasn’t updated, don’t feel bad — people move all the time and forget to update their registrations accordingly.

Updating your address at the post office doesn’t, in fact, update your voter registration. The DMV, on the other hand, will update your voter registration details if you update your address with them.

If your voter registration address was correct but your ballot never showed up, you still have options.

If it’s more than six days before Election Day, you can call your county elections office and ask them to send a new ballot. Jump straight to our list of Bay Area county elections offices.

Your county elections office won’t mail you a ballot six days or less before Election Day because it can’t be sure the ballot will reach you in time. So, if you’re trying to get a ballot in the immediate run-up to Election Day, go to your county elections office in person and request one at the counter.

From Feb. 5, your county elections office will be open for early voting through Election Day on March 5, so you could also go there in person during opening hours and vote right there at the counter. More early voting locations will be opening throughout February.

And remember, if you’re not actually registered to vote, you always have the option of same-day voter registration (also known as conditional voter registration) at a voting location, where you can then fill out and submit your ballot, too.

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My ballot has arrived, but there are no presidential candidates on it. Why?

A person who is registered to vote as “no party preference” (NPP, or sometimes referred to as an “independent”) will automatically receive a ballot without presidential candidates on it. If that’s you, you’ll need to take action to receive a new ballot and be able to vote in California’s presidential primary election.

So if you do, in fact, want to cast a vote for a presidential candidate in the primary, do not fill out and submit that first ballot you were sent. If you do, you will not be able to fill out any new ballot with presidential candidates on it because you will have already voted by submitting that first ballot.

Instead, you can follow these steps depending on which party you want to vote for, and your original ballot will be canceled. Luckily, you have until Election Day itself to take action.

Your no party preference status will also prevent you from voting for candidates for party central committees, the governing body of the local political parties. Those elections are only open to party members. But NPP voters won’t have to take any action to vote in the primary for U.S. Senate or state legislature.

Where can I vote in person on Election Day?

If you live in San Francisco, Contra Costa or Solano counties, you are assigned a specific polling place, though Contra Costa County election officials say they can process your ballot no matter where you show up to vote. Voting at the county registrar’s office (at City Hall, in San Francisco’s case) is still an option on Election Day.

If you live in Alameda, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara or Sonoma counties, you can vote at any voting location, including your county registrar’s office.

You can find your polling place through the state’s lookup tool, although please note that this information will only become available closer to Election Day.

If you’re hoping to vote in person, be sure to check your mail-in ballot well before Election Day to see where you can vote and whether you’ve been assigned a specific polling place. And again, remember: Even if you live in a county that assigns you a particular polling place, you can still vote at your county registrar’s office.

How can I contact my county directly about voting?

Across the Bay Area, elections officials are encouraging voters to reach out — early — with any questions or concerns. Here’s the contact information for your county:

  • Alameda: For information about voting by mail, registration and polling place lookup, call 510-267-8683.
  • Contra Costa: Call 925-335-7800 or email voter.services@vote.cccounty.us.
  • Marin: Call 415-473-6456 or go to the Marin County elections webpage to send a form email.
  • Napa: Call 707-253-4321 or email the elections office at elections@countyofnapa.org.
  • San Francisco: Call 415-554-4375 or email sfvote@sfgov.org.
  • San Mateo: Call 888-762-8683 or email registrar@smcacre.org.
  • Santa Clara: Call toll-free at 866-430-VOTE (8683)​ or email registrar@rov.sccgov.org​.
  • SolanoCall 707-784-6675 or 888-933-VOTE (8683). You can also email elections@solanocounty.com.
  • Sonoma: Call 707-565-6800 or toll-free at 800-750-8683.

The state also has a full list of every county elections office in California.

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At KQED News, we know that it can sometimes be hard to track down the answers to navigate life in the Bay Area in 2024. We’ve published clear, practical explainers and guides about COVID-19, how to cope with intense winter weather, and how to exercise your right to protest safely.

So tell us: What do you need to know more about? Tell us, and you could see your question answered online or on social media. What you submit will make our reporting stronger and help us decide what to cover here on our site and on KQED Public Radio, too.

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