If you don’t have time to visit a polling center or voting center, then a vote-by-mail ballot may be a good way to engage in the 2018 election.

The majority of California counties still have similar processes for attaining a vote-by-mail ballot, however, five counties, including Sacramento County, have made some changes to how easy these ballots are to get.

For Sacramento County, this means all voters are automatically mailed a ballot. For other counties, registered voters can apply for a vote-by-mail ballot for the upcoming election. In 2016, the General Election saw over eight million people cast their vote by mail.


WATCH: The California Secretary of State's office has a helpful video explaining how to vote by mail:


Here are 10 things to know about the voting by mail for the 2018 election:

1. Sacramento County voters are automatically mailed a ballot

  • Sacramento County is one of five counties participating in the California Voter’s Choice Act, which is meant to make voting easier. These ballots can be put in the mail, placed into a drop box, or taken to a voting center.

2. There’s a deadline to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot

  • Applications must be received no later than seven days before Election Day. The deadline to apply for the General Election is Oct. 30.

3. Applications for vote-by-mail ballots are available online, in-person, or by phone

  • An application is available on the voter information guide mailed to you by the county elections office prior to the election.
  • You can also visit the county elections office in-person or use the California Vote-By-Mail Application.
  • To apply by phone, you will need to contact the county elections office to verify whether applying by phone is allowed.

4. You need to mail to the county elections office when finished

  • Fill out the application, print, sign, date, and mail it to the county elections office to be sure you get the vote-by-mail ballot.

5. A vote-by-mail ballot can still be applied for if you miss the deadline

  • If it is seven days before election day, you can apply for a vote-by-mail ballot in person at your county elections office.

6. There are four ways to return your ballot

  • Mail it to your county elections office. These ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by the county elections office no later than three days after Election Day.
  • Return it in person to a polling place or the office of your county elections office.
  • Dropping your ballot into one of your county’s ballot drop boxes.
  • Authorize someone to return the ballot for you.

7. There is a signature comparison for the envelope your ballot comes in

  • When the ballot is received the county election office, they will compare the signature on the return envelope to the signature on your voter registration card to ensure there is a match. The ballot gets separated from the envelope to maintain the ballot’s secrecy.

8. Permanent vote-by-mail status can end or be canceled

  • It's possible to become a permanent vote-by-mail voter. This means that you will automatically receive your ballot for each election.
  • This status can end if you do not vote in four consecutive statewide general elections.
  • You can also cancel your vote-by-mail status manually by completing the California Permanent Vote-By-Mail Status Form.

9. You can check the status of your vote-by-mail ballot

  • Visit this link to check your ballot status.

10. You can vote while away in the military or overseas