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How to Vote: A Guide for These, Well, Unprecedented Times

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This year’s Election Day falls on Tuesday, Nov. 3, but with a global pandemic in the mix, it will be unlike any previous election in American history.

Between universal mail-in ballots, NBA arena voting centers and an underfunded postal service, figuring out how to cast a ballot can prove unusually difficult, even for regular voters.

Registering to Vote

First, check if you’re registered to vote. If you are, you likely received a card in the mail that confirmed your address and offered the option of changing your ballot to one of 18 languages. If you aren’t, you can still register to vote online up until Monday, Oct. 19.

Because of the pandemic, every single registered voter will receive a vote-by-mail ballot. Election officials will begin sending those out Monday, Oct. 5. If you’ve moved recently, you should double-check that the address you’re registered under is up-to-date.

Dropping Off Your Ballot

Once you’ve received your ballot in the mail and filled it out, you have three options for returning it on or before Tuesday, Nov. 3:

  • Mailing it in, no postage required.
  • Dropping it off at a vote-by-mail ballot drop-off location.
  • Dropping it off at any in-person vote center in L.A. County.

With the recent uncertainty surrounding the U.S. Postal Service — delivery delays, understaffing and the removal of hundreds of mail-sorting machines — personally dropping off your ballot as early as possible is the most secure way to ensure that your vote is counted.

A full list of drop-off locations and vote centers isn’t available yet, but it will be posted to LAvote.net sometime in late September or early October, giving you at least a full month before Election Day to swing by. Similar to traditional vote-by-mail ballots, you won’t have to stand in line to drop it off — you can skip any lines and bring your ballot directly to a polling official or secure box.

Mailing Your Ballot

If you decide to mail in your ballot, you can use the USPS’ new BallotTrax tool to track when your ballot is received and counted. (They also allow you to set up notifications.)

Voting In-Person

You can also vote in person at any L.A. County vote center, regardless of your home address, starting Saturday, Oct. 24. If you do, your unused mail-in ballot will be automatically voided, so there’s no need to bring it with you.

That’s it! Don’t forget to sign your ballot, and remember that the earlier you can fill it out and turn it in, the better.

Los Angeleno