We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected
Graphic of a person's hand placing a ballot in a yellow ballot box decorated with blue text boxes and red question marks.
How Do I Vote By Mail?
From dropping off your mail-in ballot to getting a replacement, we've got your questions about voting by mail in the Nov. 8 general election covered.
This story features Beeline Reader for enhanced readability. Click to turn the feature on or off. Learn more about this technology here.

Have you made a plan to vote in the November general election yet? Millions of vote-by-mail ballots are going to homes across the state.

We’re still voting during a pandemic, so voting by mail is definitely encouraged and, just as in the June primary, every registered voter in California should automatically receive a vote-by-mail ballot.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to vote by mail, guided by your questions. We'll be updating this FAQ as we answer more, so check back often.

If you have a question that’s not being addressed, ask us! You can submit your question by using the form at the bottom and the Voter Game Plan team will do our best to get you an answer.

How Do I Get A Vote-By-Mail (VBM) Ballot?

County elections officials mail vote-by-mail ballots to all active registered voters. To make sure you get yours, first check that you are registered to vote by Oct. 24, the voter registration deadline, and confirm that your mailing address is correct. If you are all set, you should receive a ballot in the mail.

Your county elections office will begin mailing ballots by Oct. 10. Use the Where’s My Ballot? tracking tool to see if your ballot has been mailed yet. If your ballot doesn't show up by the week of Oct. 17, contact your county registrar.

The last day to request a new vote-by-mail ballot in Los Angeles County is Nov. 1, a week before the election. (If you’re in another county, make sure to ask for a replacement ballot by least Nov. 1 to give it enough time to come in the mail.)

How Do I Cast My VBM Ballot?

You have options:

  • Mail it in, no postage required. Just make sure it’s postmarked on or by Nov. 8, 2022. If you’re concerned it won’t be postmarked in time, you may want to choose one of these other options.
  • Turn it in at any vote center or polling place in the state by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2022.
  • Drop it in any official drop box in the state (yes, anywhere in the state) by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2022. Avoid fake drop boxes. Here is what official drop boxes in L.A. County and Orange County look like. 
  • Designate another person to drop it off for you — as long as that person doesn't get paid to pick up ballots. There’s a space on your ballot envelope to write the name of the person you've chosen to turn in your vote.

Be sure to sign your ballot envelope with the signature that matches what the registrar has on file (probably your ID signature). Again, no worries about stamps! Postage is free for all mail-in ballots in the state of California.

How Do I Fill Out The Envelope?

Here's a handy guide for that.

Note: this is the L.A. County envelope. Let us know if you need help with a different county. Click the arrow to see the back.

Should I Worry If My Ballot Isn’t Here Yet?

County registrars will begin sending out vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters on Oct. 10.

To see if your ballot has been mailed, use the Where’s My Ballot? tracking tool.

If you are registered to vote and your address is up to date but you have not received your ballot by the week of Oct. 17, it's a good idea to contact your local county elections office to make sure nothing is amiss.

The last day to request a new vote-by-mail ballot in L.A. County is Nov. 1. (If you’re in another county, make sure to ask for a replacement ballot by least Nov. 1 to give it enough time to come in the mail.)

If all else fails, and you're registered in a Voter's Choice Act county, you can go to any vote center in your county to vote in person.

I Used A Pencil To Fill Out My Ballot. Is That OK?

Using a pen with blue or black ink is preferred. However, if you mistakenly use a pencil, your vote will still be counted. If you signed your envelope in pencil, it might get flagged as a signature issue. If that happens, you should be notified by mail (and the Where's My Ballot? tracking tool if you sign up for texts) and have a chance to fix it.

I Made A Mistake On My Ballot. What Do I Do?

You have some options:

You can draw a single line across your mistake and make your correction.

If you mess up before L.A. County’s Nov. 1 deadline, you can request a new vote-by-mail ballot. (In other counties, it’s best to request this at least a week before Election Day.) L.A. County and Orange County have online request forms. You can also contact your county’s election office.

In L.A. County and Orange County, or any other Voter's Choice Act county (these now include San Diego, Riverside and Ventura counties), you can also go to any vote center in your county to get a new ballot and vote in person. You don't have to bring your vote-by-mail ballot — electronic check-in and online verification with a central voter database will ensure your vote-by-mail ballot is suspended.

How Do I Find And Use A Drop Box?

Seal and sign your ballot and deposit it in any official drop box in the state before 8 p.m. on Election Day (Nov. 8, 2022). Drop boxes should be available starting Oct. 10. Make sure to drop your ballot in an official box and avoid fake ones. Here is what official drop boxes in L.A. County and Orange County look like.

Before you keep reading…
Dear voter, we're asking you to help us keep local election news widely available for all today. Your financial support allows our reporters to research candidates and provide you and your neighbors the tools you need to make informed decisions when casting your ballot. When reliable local election reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Can I Vote In Person Instead?

You definitely can. If you vote in L.A. County or Orange County (or any other Voter's Choice Act county), you don’t have to turn in your vote-by-mail ballot when you go to the voting center. The electronic check-in process is designed to void any other ballots you might have to ensure you don’t vote multiple times.

If you vote in a non-Voter's Choice Act county, you can vote in person instead as well. You can check in with your local election office to see if they prefer that you bring your vote-by-mail ballot, but no matter where you vote, not having that old ballot with you should never prevent you from casting your ballot. Election officials will help you.

Get more information about voting in person.

What About Accessible Voting By Mail?

There are options. Remote Accessible Vote by Mail (RAVBM) allows you to access and mark your ballot privately with your own assistive device. You can also designate someone to help you with your ballot (there are some rules around that here). Drop boxes should be accessible 24/7. In L.A. County, the envelope also features paper holes that you can feel to help guide your hand to the signature box. Learn more about accessible voting in L.A. County and Orange County.

More Voter Guides

City of Los Angeles

L.A. County

  • Sheriff: Compare the two candidates for L.A. County sheriff
  • Water Agencies: Learn what they do and what to look for in a candidate

How to evaluate judges

California propositions

  • Propositions 26 and 27: The difference between the sports betting ballot measures
  • Proposition 29: Why kidney dialysis is on your ballot for the third time
  • Proposition 30: Why Lyft is the biggest funder of this ballot measure

Head to the Voter Game Plan homepage for guides to the rest of your ballot.