Election Day is around the corner and you are bound to have questions on what will be happening on May 19, 2015. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to help you out. For more information, visit Your Vote Matters!
Can I register to vote?
You may register to vote in California if you are:
- A U.S. citizen
- A resident of California
- At least 18 years old on or before Election Day
- Not in prison or on parole for a felony
- Not declared mentally incompetent
How do I know if I’m registered to vote?
If you live in Los Angeles County, you can check if you are registered to vote at https://lavote.net/SECURED/VOTER_REG/.
How do I register to vote?
Pick up a voter registration form at a library, DMV, or post office, or do it online by registering at http://registertovote.ca.gov/. To vote on May 19, you must register by May 4, 2015.
I became a new citizen after the voter registration deadline. Can I still register and vote?
Yes. If you are a new citizen, you can register to vote, and then vote, between the deadline date and the close of the polls on Election Day. To do this, you have to go to the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters’ office in Norwalk, present your naturalization certificate, and declare that you have established residence in Los Angeles County.
What if I moved?
If you moved, you need to re-register to vote with your new address and you can use a voter registration form to do it. If you moved but didn’t re-register to vote, you can still vote at the polling place for your new address if you were living previously in Los Angeles County. You will be asked to vote with a provisional ballot and provide your new address and your previous address on the provisional ballot envelope.
Do I need to re-register to vote?
No, once you are registered to vote, you only need to re-register if you move, change your name, or want to change your political party.
Do I need to join a political party?
No, you are not required to sign up for a political party. You can register for a party, or you can choose "No Party Preference” and not be a member of a political party.
If I sign up for a political party or if I indicate “no party preference,” does that affect who I can vote for?
Your party registration has no effect on which candidates appear on your ballot. You can vote for any candidate, including candidates from a different party than yours. There are a couple of exceptions to this, such as the presidential primary election.
Who should I vote for?
You should vote for candidates and propositions that reflect the values you believe in. To learn more, please use resources such as the Easy Voter Guide (www.easyvoterguide.org) and the Smart Voter website (www.smartvoter.org).
Can I get translated materials?
Yes. In Los Angeles County you can get materials such as sample ballots or vote-by-mail information in the following languages: Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. Request bilingual sample ballots and resources by calling (800) 481-8683. You should also be able to get translated materials at your poll site on Election Day.
What is voting by mail? How do I do it?
Voting by mail is when your ballot is mailed to you and you can vote from the comfort of your home. The ballot needs to be mailed and received by county officials by end of the business day on Election Day. You can also drop off your vote-by-mail envelope at any polling place in Los Angeles County by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. There are no special requirements to be a vote-by-mail voter – anyone can do it.
How do I become a vote-by-mail voter?
On your California Voter Registration form, initial question number 15. You will also find an application to get a vote-by-mail ballot on the last page of your sample ballot. You can also call the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters at (562) 466-1323 or make a request online at lavote.net. Your vote-by-mail application must be received by the Registrar of Voters by May 12 for the May 19th election.
What if I am a vote-by-mail voter and I change my mind and want to vote at the polls?
That’s totally fine. Just show up to your designated polling place with your vote-by-mail ballot and give it to the poll worker. If you do not have your vote-by-mail ballot to give to the poll worker, you can cast a provisional ballot.
Voting at the Polls on Election Day
What time are the polls open on Election Day?
County election polling places are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where is my polling place?
If you live in Los Angeles County, you can visit www.lavote.net/LOCATOR to see where your polling place is and what will be on your ballot.
Why did my polling place change?
In California, there are no permanent poll sites. Locations may change from election to election.
If I do not know what to do when I get to the polling place, will someone help me?
Yes. Ask the election poll workers to help you with the voting process. However, poll workers cannot help you in deciding how to vote.
I am not comfortable voting by myself. I would like to bring someone with me into the voting booth to help me understand the ballot. Can I bring someone?
Yes. You have the right to have any individual of your choice help you in the voting process, except (1) your employer or a representative of your employer or (2) a representative of your labor union. The person helping you may even be your teenage child or a non-U.S. citizen.
I’m proud of who I’m voting for. Can I wear my candidate’s name on a shirt to the polls?
No. That is considered electioneering. You can’t endorse or criticize a candidate or a ballot measure verbally, on a sign, or on your clothing, within 100 feet of the polling place. You may be asked to cover your shirt or other paraphernalia before entering the poll site.
Will I be required to show ID in order to vote?
No, with one exception. You may have to show ID if you are voting for the first time in California and you registered to vote by mailing in your registration form.
What happens if I go to the wrong polling place? And what is a provisional ballot?
It is best to go to the polling place that you are assigned to, but you can go to any polling place within the county where you reside. If the poll workers at your polling place cannot find your name in the roster of voters, you have two options. First, you can ask them to help you find your correct polling location and then go to that location to vote. Second, you can stay at the polling place and cast a provisional ballot.
Casting a provisional ballot means that after you vote, your ballot will be placed in an envelope called a provisional ballot envelope. Your provisional ballot will be counted if the county registrar of voters can verify that you were registered to vote and that you did not already cast a ballot in the election. One note about provisional ballots: If you go to a polling place other than the one you are assigned to and you cast a provisional ballot there, you may not get to vote on all races and measures that you are entitled to vote on. For example, if you live in ABC City and vote a provisional ballot at a polling place in DEF City, you will get to vote for statewide and countywide candidates and ballot measures, but you won’t be able to vote on candidates for ABC City Council.