Last Minute Voting: How You Can Still Vote in the California Governor Recall Election

If you received a mail-in ballot but haven't opened it yet, here's how you can still vote on Election Day in ten easy steps!

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What to Know

  • Election Day is Tuesday, September 14 in the proposed recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom
  • Voters will be asked to choose "Yes" or "No" on whether the governor should be removed from office, and name a replacement from a long list of candidates
  • Mail-in ballots can be still be dropped off at polling places and county election offices on Election Day

It's an odd time to hold an election — and the election itself is anything but ordinary.

So if you forgot to open your mail-in ballot in the recall election being held September 14 across California — or if the ballot itself is proving to be a real head-scratcher — here's how you can still make your voice heard, in 10 easy steps:

1. Find your ballot

Your vote-by-mail ballot will be in an official-looking envelope marked "Election Mail."

2. Open it!

Carefully tear open the envelope and remove the long, thick, folded ballot. Your ballot is double-sided, and contains one question on each side.

3. Decide if you want Gov. Newsom to be recalled

On the front of the ballot, answer "Yes" if you think Gov. Newsom should be removed from office, and "No" if you want to keep him in office. In short:

  • YES is a vote to Remove the governor
  • NO is a vote to Keep the governor

4. Mark your answer in blue or black ink

Most mail-in ballots ask you to mark them in blue or black ink. Some counties say a No. 2 pencil is also acceptable.

5. Decide who should replace Gov. Newsom if he's removed

On the back of the ballot is a long list of candidates vying to replace Gov. Newsom if he's removed. The candidate with the most votes wins — no majority necessary — and you can vote for one even if you also voted "no" on removing the governor.

6. Place your ballot in the return envelope

This should be a postage-paid envelope that came with your ballot. If your ballot has a perforated stub on one end, you should tear that off and keep it, so you can check online later to see if your vote has been counted.

7. Sign the envelope

Mail-in ballots aren't valid without a signature, so be sure to sign the outside of the envelope! You may also be asked to include your name, address, email and phone number, so that election officials can contact you if there's a problem with your ballot.

8. Wait... You're not done yet!

In the final hours of the election, it's important to ensure your ballot will arrive in time to be counted. While any ballot postmarked by September 14 will ultimately count in the election, your ballot may reach election officials more quickly if you take it directly to an official drop-off location.

9. Go to a polling place or official drop-off site

On Election Day, you can drop off mail-in ballots at your polling place, at county election offices, or at designated drop-off locations like San Francisco City Hall.

10. Put your ballot directly into the ballot box

Make sure your ballot goes directly into an official ballot box. Election workers will show you where the box is, and you can drop the ballot into it yourself!

NBC Bay Area will have coverage of the recall election on Election Night as results begin to come in, so check back with us for updates!

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