The Oracle’s guide for first-time voters

With the election quickly approaching, and given the pandemic, the voting process might be confusing for first-time voters. Here are some tips on how to vote in California.

Registering to vote:

In California, the deadline to register to vote online or by mail is Oct. 19. If you are registering by mail, your form must be postmarked by Oct. 19, so plan to mail your form in advance. The in-person deadline is on Election Day, Nov. 3. To register in person, visit the county elections office, vote center or your nearest polling place and complete the Same Day Voter Registration Process. These locations can be found on To register online or check your registration status, go to You will also need to provide a California ID or driver’s license, the last four digits of your social security number and your date of birth. 16 and 17 year olds can also pre-register to vote online.

Voting by mail:

If you are registered to vote, you should receive a ballot in the mail no later than 29 days before Election Day, even if you did not request an absentee ballot. County officials will count any ballot received within 17 days of the election. If you lost your ballot or did not receive one in the mail, you can request a new one by filling out the Vote By Mail Ballot Application Replacement Request form on the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website.

Voting in person:

Election Day is on Nov. 3, but some polling locations will be accepting ballots starting Oct. 5. Polling centers to vote in-person will be open starting Oct. 31, and will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. On Election Day, voting centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Go to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website to see what locations will be accepting early ballot dropoffs, and find the voting center closest to you.