Okay, so you’ve filled your ballot and signed the envelope. You can:
1️⃣ Drop it in the mail — you don’t need a stamp!
2️⃣ Take it to an official ballot drop box (Here’s a list of where those are in the Bay Area:
https://bayareane.ws/2FwQ6os )
3️⃣ Vote in person the week of the election
The fun doesn't stop after you submit your ballot. In fact, the journey begins. First, your sealed ballot rolls through a machine that scans the barcode on the envelope to sort it. It also checks your signature to be sure it’s really you voting — not your shifty-looking neighbor.
A human makes sure the signature matches the one they have on file from when you registered. If it’s not a match, your ballot goes into what they call the challenged pile. But don’t panic!
Ballots in the challenged pile will still be counted but first, the registrar's office will contact you to cure your ballot. They might ask you to update your signature on file. And, of course, make sure you’re a real person...
Election officials routinely review death records to purge registrations that are literally, uh, expired. Oh and remember when Trump said dogs were getting mail-in ballots? Well, even if they were, Rover would need an official ID and unique signature.
Anyway. Time to open the envelope! Registrars used to have to wait until 14 days before Election Day. But this year, with almost everyone voting by mail thanks to the coronavirus, they can start 29 days out. Sorters open ballots in pairs so no one is ever alone with ballots.
Now that the sorting is done, it’s time for a ride through the ballot counting machine. These machines run nonstop, day and night. They log your votes into a secure computer system that can’t be hacked from overseas because it’s not connected to the internet.
Once the votes are counted, the ballots are stored under lock and key. Security cameras watch them like a hawk. If a candidate later contests a close race, the registrar will come straight to the source.
If you’re worried about mail delay, don’t be! As long as your ballot is postmarked by Nov. 3, it doesn’t need to get to the registrar’s office until Nov. 20. That’s 14 days later than in the past. Because of the pandemic, California changed the law to account for possible delays.
The curtain doesn't close until all the ballots have been counted. Your ballot’s journey finally ends by Dec. 3 when the registrar certifies all the results.
California voters can track their very own ballot by going to http://WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov . You’ll see when it’s been received, validated and counted.

It’s like tracking your Uber Eats order, but instead of dinner, you get democracy!
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