Frequently Answered Questions (about voting)

Today,  February 4, is Super Tuesday and Presidential primary day in California! People have been calling me all day with voting questions like these:

Where is my polling place?
Click here to find out.

What time are the polls open?
Polls open at 7 am and close at 8 pm. The busiest hours are generally 7 to 9 am and 5 to 8 pm, so if possible it’s best to go between 9 am and 5 pm.

I’m an Independent. Can I vote for one of the Presidential candidates?
Maybe. It depends on whether you registered to vote as an American Independent voter or as a Decline-to-State voter. Contrary to what many believe, they are not the same thing. The American Independent Party is a paleoconservative party that’s known as the Constitution Party outside of California.

If you are actually a Decline-to-State voter, you can ask for either a Democratic Party ballot or an American Independent Party ballot. If you’re actually registered as an American Independent, you will be given an American Independent Party ballot. You can’t vote in the Democratic Party primary.

The only way you can vote in the primary for the Green, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom, or Republican party is if you are registered as a member of that party.

I want to change my registration so I can vote in the Democratic primary! What do I do?
You are SOL. It’s too late to change your registration for this election. But you can change it for the next election by printing this form and mailing it to Neal Kelley, Registrar of Voters, P.O. Box 11298, Santa Ana, CA 92711. You can also find blank voter registration forms at many libraries, city halls, and high schools.

I have to be in L.A. all day and won’t be able to get to my polling place to vote. Can I vote in Los Angeles County?
No, but you can vote at an Orange County polling place other than your own. Whenever possible you should vote in your own precinct, but you can go to another OC polling place if you must. If you go to an OC polling place other than your own, you will have to cast a Provisional Ballot.

I’m a Decline-to-State voter. I vote by mail and I want to vote in the Democratic Primary. But the Registrar of Voters sent me a ballot with no Presidential choices. Is there a way I can vote in the Democratic Primary?
Yes. Take your mail ballot to your polling place and give it to the election workers. Tell them you want to use the voting machines to cast a Democratic ballot.

I’m going to take my ballot to the post office right now so it will be postmarked today. That’s ok, isn’t it?
No. Your mail ballot must be received by the Registrar of Voters by 8 pm on Election Day. Postmarks don’t count. See the next question and answer.

I forgot to return my mail ballot! Now what?
No problem! Take it to any polling place and give it to the election workers. If you wish, you can turn in your blank ballot and vote on the machines.

What if I lost my mail ballot?
If your mail ballot is lost or if you’re unsure about whether you returned it, go to your polling place and ask for a Provisional Ballot. After Election Day, the Registrar of Voters will check to be sure you are registered and that you voted only one time. If the Registrar determines you did not cast another ballot, your Provisional Ballot will count just like anyone else’s.

Do those mail ballots really count? I’ve heard they’re only counted if an election is close.
Yes, the Registrar counts every single valid ballot. Mail ballots that arrive on Election Day are counted last, but they are counted.

Got other questions? Leave a comment.