Politics

Human Voter Guide: Voter registration deadline today, plus more election tips

File photo: High school students volunteer to hand out voter registration forms in South Sacramento on March 24, 2016.
File photo: High school students volunteer to hand out voter registration forms in South Sacramento on March 24, 2016.
Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio

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Today is the deadline for people in California to register to vote for the general election, and we've got answers below to your questions on that topic.

Remember, we're here to help you develop your voter game plan. We've gathered up what you need to know on our Voter Game Plan page and our Voter's Edge voter guide

But if you've still got an election-related question, submit it in our comment box below, or call 323-538-5722 and leave a voice mail or send a text. You can also send a tweet to me @maryplummer or comment on KPCC's Facebook page.

Now, on to your questions:

Q: What if I moved recently and haven't received my vote by mail ballot? Do I re-register?

If you’ve moved recently, it’s important that you re-register to vote by today. The reason: even if you’re still living in the same county, exactly where you live affects what appears on your ballot. To make sure that you’re getting the correct ballot, you’ve got to be registered to vote at the correct address.

You can register or re-register to vote on the Secretary of State's website

But to answer the question more specifically: as long as you're registered to vote at the new address and have requested a vote by mail ballot, you'll get one. They’re still being mailed out, so be patient.

Q: What if you’re getting your mail forwarded?

If your ballot shows up in the mail, you can use it to vote.

Another option is to ask the county to re-issue you a second vote by mail ballot. The deadline for that is Nov. 1. You can also go to any polling location within the county you're registered and vote in person with a provisional ballot on election day. 

Q: A listener recently moved into a new housing development and was having trouble registering to vote. What should people do if they run into problems like that?

The listener is living in a housing development that is so new it isn't recognized by any mapping systems yet. When she went to register online, the system wasn’t able to handle it.

Ultimately, the L.A. County Registrar’s office was able to solve the problem by manually entering her information. If you're having a similar problem, you can call the registrar's office at 562-466-1323 for help. If you live elsewhere, you can call the elections office in your county.

If you're having problems, be persistent and ask for help until the issue is resolved.

You can also reach out to KPCC for backup. 

Q: Speaking of today’s registration deadline, it's also the last day to change your party affiliation, right?

Yes. Today is the deadline to change your party in time for the Nov. 8 election. People may remember that during the California primary, there was a lot of confusion and stress around this issue; each party had their own rules about who could vote in their presidential primary.

Since it's the general election and there won't be separate party ballots, this shouldn't be an issue. Everyone gets to vote in all races regardless of party. But you are still free to change your political party as you wish — just do it by today by re-registering.

Q: What happens if you make a mistake on your vote by mail ballot signature and cross it out and re-sign?

I checked with the L.A. County Registrar’s office and it actually has a policy in place for this.

When officials receive vote by mail ballots with crossed out signatures, they manually inspect the new signature. If it matches with what’s in the voter registration database, the vote is counted.

Q: How can you make sure your signature matches and doesn't get rejected?

It’s all based on the signature you used to register to vote. If you registered online, elections officials will use the signature on your driver’s license to check against. So here's a good rule to follow: try to sign your ballot in the same way that it appears on your license.

Q: L.A. County has a new weekend early voting program. How does that work?

If you're registered to vote, you can vote early in person in the following cities during the next two weekends: West Covina, Culver City, North Hollywood, Torrance, Lancaster and at the L.A. County Registrar's headquarters in Norwalk.

The hours are 8 a.m. to 4 pm. Full details are available on the L.A. County Registrar's website

Series: Human Voter Guide

We're in the middle of one of the most contentious elections we've seen in a long time, so there's a lot of interest in voting this year. But there's also a lot of confusion. To help clear the way, we're introducing KPCC's Human Voter Guide, a series of questions-and-answers about the California elections.

Have a question? Email our senior political reporter Mary Plummer, tweet her @maryplummer or leave a voice mail or text at 323-538-5722.