If you’re not among the 166,000 Americans who registered to vote in the three days after Taylor Swift made an Instagram post encouraging her followers to cast ballots, you haven’t completely missed the boat.
Californians have a few more days to register to vote in the upcoming midterm election: The state’s registration deadline is Oct. 22. If you want to vote on Nov. 6, here’s what you need to do.
HOW TO REGISTER
You can fill out an application online or go to your county elections office, library, Department of Motor Vehicles office or federal post office to complete a paper form. California’s online application is available in 10 languages, and the National Mail Voter Registration Form (which you will need to print out) is available in nine.
If you’re filling out an application by hand, make sure the application is postmarked or hand-delivered to your county elections office by Oct. 22.
Check your eligibility before filling out an application. You should have your driver’s license or state identification card handy — you’ll be asked for its number. You’ll also be asked for the last four digits of your Social Security number and your date of birth.
If you don’t have a California driver’s license or identification card, you can fill out the online application and complete an online interview by 11:59 PDT on Oct. 22.
For first-time voters who applied without including a license or Social Security number, it’s recommended you bring some form of identification with you to a polling place. Beyond the driver’s license or California ID card, acceptable forms of identification include a passport, a copy of a recent utility bill, the county voter information guide you received from your county elections office, or another document sent to you by a government agency.
Make sure you register in the county where you live. You must re-register to vote if you change your name or your political party choice.
VOTE BY MAIL
If you don’t want to or can’t get to the polls on Nov. 6, you can cast your vote in the comfort of your own home. California allows any resident, not just military or overseas voters, to vote by mail. When registering to vote, you can opt in to permanent voting by mail. Your ballot and a county voter information guide will be mailed to your address.
You can return your ballot via mail or deliver it to a polling place or your county elections office by 8 p.m. on Nov. 6. If you’re mailing it, your ballot must be postmarked on or before Nov. 6 and received no later than three days after election day.
Vote-by-mail ballots have already started to go out, so if you’re feeling left out while your friends and neighbors receive their thick envelopes, make sure you’re registered to vote.
Your polling place can be found on the back of your county voter information guide or by searching your county’s election website (you’ll have to scroll done to your county). California law requires polling places to be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day. Voters who are in line but haven’t cast their votes by closing time will be allowed to vote, but if you arrive after 8 p.m., you’re out of luck.
Some counties allow early voting at the local election office or at another designated location. Many will offer weekend voting. The sites and hours differ by county: Los Angeles County, for example, will open 10 different polling locations the two weekends before election day. Orange County will open eight preelection day vote centers in the 10 days leading up to Nov. 6.
Early voting spots can also serve as pick-up or drop-off spots for vote-by-mail ballots. County election offices will have a secured box where vote-by-mail ballots can be dropped off early, and will accept ballots through election day.
IF YOU MISS THE DEADLINE
You can still potentially vote. Residents who miss the registration deadline can, in the two weeks leading up to the election, go to their county’s election office and request to cast a provisional ballot. The vote will be counted when the registration is verified.
Eager teens, if you’re 16 or 17, you can’t vote in November, but you can preregister, so the day you turn 18, you’ll be automatically registered to vote.
Remember, if you’re registered to vote in another state, but you live in California, you must cancel your registration in that state.