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Vote by Mail Ballot Information

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Who May Vote by Mail?

Any registered voter who requests a Vote by Mail ballot in writing by the 7th day before an election, may vote by mail.

Elections Code §§3001, 3003

Permanent Vote by Mail Voter Information

Any voter may apply for permanent Vote by Mail status.  A voter will lose his or her permanent Vote by Mail status if he or she does not return a Vote by Mail ballot in four consecutive statewide general elections.

Elections Code §§3201, 3206

Mailed Ballot Precinct Information

Though technically not Vote by Mail voters, voters who reside in a precinct that has fewer than 250 registered voters 88 days prior to an election may be declared to be in a “mailed ballot precinct.” When this occurs, all voters in that precinct will automatically be mailed a Vote by Mail ballot; no application is necessary.  Because of the increasing number of jurisdictions with overlapping boundaries that hold elections at the same time, the number of mailed ballot precincts has increased.

Elections Code §3005


What Information Must Be Provided to Obtain a Vote by Mail Ballot?

To obtain a Vote by Mail ballot, voters must apply in writing to the local elections official.  As required by law, an application for a Vote by Mail ballot is always included in the County Voter Information Guide; however, no application form is necessary.  A voter may write a note to the local elections official requesting a Vote by Mail ballot.  The request shall contain the following:

  1. the voter’s printed name
  2. the voter’s residence address
  3. the mailing address to which the voter wants the Vote by Mail ballot sent
  4. the name and date of the election for which the voter is applying
  5. the voter’s signature

In Sonoma County mail request to:

Sonoma County Registrar of Voters
P.O. Box 11485
Santa Rosa CA  95406-1485

Or FAX your request to:

(707) 565-6843
Elections Code §§3001, 3006


When to Apply for a Vote by Mail Ballot

Elections officials process Vote-by-Mail applications and mail ballots during the period 29–7 days prior to an election. A voter may submit an application prior to this time, but the elections official will hold it until the 29th day.  Applications for Vote by Mail ballots that are mailed by the voter cannot be processed if received less than 7 days prior to an election.  Vote by Mail ballots are available in the Registrar of Voters Office until 8:00 PM on Election Day.

Elections Code §3001


Distributing Applications for Vote by Mail Ballots

Any candidate, group of candidates, ballot measure committee or other political organization that intends to conduct a Vote by Mail voter drive, should note the following information regarding distribution of applications for Vote by Mail ballots.  Before you do anything, contact your local elections official. 

Elections Code 3008


Uniform Vote by Mail Voting Application

The Secretary of State has prepared a uniform application format for a Vote by Mail ballot for use by all individuals, organizations and groups distributing Vote by Mail ballot applications.  Failure to conform your application to the uniform format is a misdemeanor.  A master Vote by Mail ballot application form will be provided by the Registrar of Voters Office, 435 Fiscal Dr., Santa Rosa, CA  95403.

Elections Code 3007


Important Information

  • To ensure accuracy, the voter should fill out all the information on the application; however, the following information may be preprinted on the application form:
    1. The voter’s name and residence address as they appear on the voter’s affidavit of registration
    2. The name and date of the election for which the Vote by Mail ballot is being requested
    3. The deadline date by which the application must be received by the elections official
  • There is a separate section of the form to indicate a mailing address if the voter wishes to receive his or her ballot at an address other than his or her residence address.  This information may not be preprinted and may only be completed by the voter.  The mailing address to which a Vote by Mail ballot is requested to be sent may not be the address of any political party, political campaign headquarters, or a candidate's residence.  This provision does not apply to a candidate, or to a candidate’s immediate family or housemates, who request that a Vote by Mail ballot be mailed to the candidate’s residence address.
  • The voter must personally affix his or her signature.
  • Any application containing preprinted information shall contain the following statement (verbatim) printed conspicuously on the form:
You have the legal right to mail or deliver this application directly to the local elections official of the county where you reside.
  • The name, address and telephone number of any organization, individual or group that authorizes the distribution of applications shall be printed on the application.
  • Any individual, organization or group that distributes applications for Vote by Mail ballots and receives completed application forms shall deliver the forms to the appropriate elections official within 72 hours of receipt or before the deadline for application, whichever is sooner.  It is a crime to delay the return of a Vote by Mail ballot application.
  • Vote by Mail ballot applications provided by a group or organization shall be sent by nonforwardable mail.
  • Any individual, group or organization that knowingly distributes any application for a Vote by Mail ballot that does not conform to the state requirements is guilty of a misdemeanor.
  • Voters who use a Vote by Mail ballot application provided by an individual, group or organization must attest to the truth and correctness of the contents and sign under penalty of perjury.
  • The Vote by Mail ballot application must contain information regarding permanent Vote by Mail status.
  • The size of the uniform format approved by the Secretary of State is 8 ½” x 5 ½”.


Vote by Mail Counting

Vote by Mail ballots are processed beginning 10 business days prior to an election, but no results may be released until 8:00 PM election night.  Partial Vote by Mail results are the first results announced on election night.

Elections Code 15101


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