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Election Day Cheat Sheet: How To Cast Your Ballot Successfully

A sign with an enlarged "I Voted" sticker points to a school entrance, where the shadows of four people enter and leave a hallway.
Voters make their way to and from casting their ballots at Castelar Elementary School in Chinatown, Los Angeles.
(Frederic J. Brown
AFP via Getty Images)

Election Day is here and with it comes your last chance to vote for the 2022 general election.

The ballot is hefty, asking you to choose between dozens of candidates and weigh in on important local and statewide measures. L.A. voters will pick a new mayor and a new city attorney, decide who will be L.A. County’s next sheriff, and much more.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Where To Vote On Election Day

All vote centers are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m Tuesday to vote in person or to drop off your vote by mail ballot — in L.A. County, there are more than 600 of them to choose from. Remember: If you’re in line to vote by 8 p.m., stay in line. You’re legally allowed to cast your ballot if you get in line by the 8 p.m. deadline.

Tip: You aren’t required to bring your vote-by-mail ballot with you – those get voided during the check-in process.

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You can also drop your ballot in an official ballot drop box anywhere in the state before 8 p.m. today.

If you haven’t registered yet or you’re worried you’ll have an issue, election workers can help you. California allows same-day registration. (Check your registration status here.) If you register at the same time that you vote, you’ll cast a provisional ballot. Officials will verify your registration information and count all ballots of voters who are eligible.

You can also drop your ballot in an official ballot drop box anywhere in the state before 8 p.m.

More Voter Guides

How to evaluate judges

Head to LAist's Voter Game Plan for guides to the rest of your ballot including:

If you prefer to mail your ballot in, just make sure it’s postmarked by Tuesday. No postage is required. (Pro-tip: If you’re mailing your ballot, take it into the post office to ensure it’s postmarked timely.)

You can also designate another person to return your completed ballot, as long as they aren’t paid. Make sure they fill out the envelope as directed for another person returning your ballot.

Get A Free Ride To Vote In L.A.

L.A. Metro is offering free rides until 11:59 p.m. All buses, trains, Metro Micro and Metro Bike Share services are covered. The promotion on Bike Share covers a 30-minute ride with the code “110822” — it can be used multiple times.

YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles and Lyft are offering free rides with the code “YLAXVotes22.” You’ll get two free one-way rides with up to $20 covered each way.

What To Do If You Can't Get To Your Local Vote Center

Not to worry — if you’re out of town, you can drop off your ballot at an official ballot drop box or polling location anywhere in California. It will be routed to the correct county. There’s no need to drive back to the vote center closest to where you live.

The same goes for voting by mail. Remember: If you have a vote by mail ballot, you can get it postmarked at any post office. As long as it’s postmarked by Tuesday it will be counted.

What To Do If You Make A Mistake On Your Ballot

If you make an error on your vote by mail ballot, you can draw a line across your mistake and make your correction.

You can also go to any vote center, request a new ballot, and vote in person.

How To Sign Your Ballot

Make sure to sign your ballot envelope with the signature that matches what your county registrar has on file, which is probably the signature on your driver’s license or state ID. Otherwise, your ballot might get flagged. If that happens, you’ll be notified by mail and will have a chance to fix it.

What To Do If You Come Across An Unfamiliar Ballot Item

It’s not required to vote on every item. If you haven’t had time to research, it’s OK to skip a race or ballot measure you’re unsure of — or several of them if you like. Whatever votes you do cast will still be counted, even if parts of your ballot are left blank.

You can also check out our voter guides or download our free Election Quick Guide to help with last-minute decisions.

Beware Of Stormy Weather

Rain and possible thunderstorms are in the forecast for L.A. County. The lines at vote centers normally move quickly, but waiting out in the cold – even if just for a few minutes — is not fun. So if you plan to vote in person, bundle up and bring an umbrella.

What To Expect After Polls Close

Follow LAist’s Voter Game Plan. We’ll keep you updated as results come in after 8 p.m.

  • Keep in mind that in tight races particularly, the winner may not be determined for days or weeks after Election Day. In L.A. County, the first batch of results released includes vote by mail ballots received before Election Day, followed by early votes cast at vote centers before Election Day, then votes cast in-person on Election Day. This process is expected to wrap up in the early hours of Nov. 9. Then, additional results will be released following a schedule you can see on the county's site. In California, ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 8 are counted toward the results as long as they arrive within seven days of the election. Results must be certified by county election officials by Dec. 8.

Tracking Your Ballot

You can track the status of your ballot here:

If your mail-in ballot is rejected for any reason (like a missing or mismatched signature), your county registrar must contact you to give you a chance to fix it.
If you come across any other challenges, be sure to let us know. We have reporters out across L.A. County, along with staff standing by to answer your questions.