Frequently Asked Questions about Voting in San Francisco
Recall Election Ballot FAQs
How many contests are on the September 14 election ballot? The gubernatorial recall contest is the only contest on the September 14 election ballot, but it has two parts: the recall question, “Shall GAVIN NEWSOM be recalled (removed) from the office of Governor?” on the front of the ballot, and the list of replacement candidates on the back of the ballot.
Do I need to vote in both parts of the recall contest? No. You may choose to vote in only the first part, in only the second part, or in both parts. Whether you vote in one or both parts of the recall contest, you can only make a single selection in each. In other words, do not vote both “Yes” and “No” or select more than one replacement candidate.
How do I vote in the first part of the recall contest? Use a pen with dark ink or pencil to fill in the oval next to either “Yes” or “No” on the front of the ballot.
If most voters select “Yes” in this first part, then Governor Newsom will be removed from office; if most voters select “No” in this first part, then Governor Newsom will remain in office.
How do I vote for a replacement candidate in the second part of the recall contest? Use a pen with dark ink or pencil to fill in the oval next to the name of one candidate or fill in the oval next to the blank space at the bottom of the list and write in the name of a qualified write-in candidate. (See sfelections.org/writein for a list of qualified write-in candidates.)
If Governor Newsom is recalled (most voters selected “Yes” in the first part of the recall contest), the replacement candidate receiving the most votes in this second part will replace him as governor.
How are the votes counted in the recall contest? Votes in the first part and the second part of the recall contest are counted independently. Only if there are more “Yes” votes than “No” votes in the first part of the contest, will the replacement candidate who receives most votes in the second part replace Governor Newsom.
In-Person Voting FAQs
Can I vote at any polling place in San Francisco? It is best to vote at your assigned polling place. If you vote at another polling place, your name will not be on the roster of voters and you will be asked to vote a provisional ballot.
What kind of multilingual resources are available at in-person voting sites? Both the City Hall Voting Center and all of San Francisco’s 588 polling places will offer bilingual ballots in English and Chinese, Spanish, and Filipino. In addition, certain voting sites will also offer facsimile (reference) ballots in Burmese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese. Finally, bilingual workers will provide multilingual assistance at voting sites in most neighborhoods.
What kind of accessibility resources are available at in-person voting sites? All in-person voting sites will offer curbside voting service as well as accessible voting equipment, tools, and personal assistance. Any voter may ask one or two people to assist them with marking a ballot, provided any such assistant is not the voter’s employer or a representative of the voter’s union and the assistant does not attempt to influence the voter.
Vote-By-Mail Ballot Delivery FAQs
What if my ballot does not arrive in the mail? You can track where your ballot is in the mailing process at sfelections.org/voterportal. If it has been more than three days since your ballot was mailed, you may request a replacement vote-by-mail ballot at sfelections.org/voterportal or by calling the Department of Elections at (415) 554-4375.
How can I get a replacement vote-by-mail ballot? To request a replacement vote-by-mail ballot before September 8, go to sfelections.org/voterportal or call the Department of Elections at (415) 554-4375. After that date, contact the Department as soon as possible to discuss your voting options.
Can I use the Accessible Vote-by-Mail (AVBM) system to access my ballot? Any voter can access and mark their ballot at sfelections.org/access. AVBM ballots must be printed and returned by mail or in person.
How can I track my vote-by-mail ballot? You can track your vote-by-mail ballot from assembly up through delivery, verification, and counting, at sfelections.org/voterportal. Or, sign up to receive ballot notifications via email, text, or voice message at wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov. Alternatively, you may call or email the Department of Elections.
Vote-By-Mail Ballot Return FAQs
Can I return my ballot by mail on Election Day? For your ballot to be counted, your ballot return envelope must be postmarked by Election Day, September 14. If you mail your ballot return envelope after the last pickup time on Election Day, your ballot will be postmarked too late to be counted. Find USPS box locations and pickup times at usps.com/locator.
How should I sign the ballot return envelope? Sign your envelope with the signature you last provided on your voter registration application. If your name or signature has recently changed, please re-register at registertovote.ca.gov. If you do not sign your ballot return envelope or if your envelope signature does not compare to any signature in your voter record, your ballot will be challenged and you will need to cure the issue before your ballot can be counted.
Where can I drop off my vote-by-mail ballot? You may return your marked ballot to any official ballot drop-off station or polling place in California — local ballots returned in other counties will be forwarded to San Francisco. For locations and hours of San Francisco’s official ballot drop-off stations, see pages 10 and 11 or go to sfelections.org/ballotdropoff.
Who is eligible to register and vote in California? To vote in California elections, you must be 1) a United States citizen, 2) a resident of California, 3) at least 18 years old on Election Day, 4) not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court, and 5) not currently serving a state or federal prison term for conviction of a felony.
Please note that the passage of Proposition 17 in the November 2020 election amended the state Constitution to allow otherwise eligible residents who are on parole to register to vote.
Can I register to vote in California before I turn 18? If you are a 16 or 17-year-old who meets the other state voter registration requirements, you can pre-register to vote and your registration will become active on your 18th birthday.
Can I register to vote in California if I just became a new citizen? If you become a U.S. citizen after the regular registration deadline of August 30, you can register and vote in person at the City Hall Voting Center or a polling place.
Can I still vote in San Francisco if I have moved locally? If you move within San Francisco, you can re-register to vote at registertovote.ca.gov or update your address at sfelections.org/voterportal or at an in-person voting site.
Can I still vote in San Francisco if I have moved within California? If you move to a new California address outside San Francisco, you can re-register to vote at registertovote.ca.gov or contact your new county elections official.
Can I still vote in San Francisco if I have moved to another state? If you move out of state, you can register with your local elections official. You may also want to contact the Department of Elections to cancel your registration in San Francisco.
Can I still vote in San Francisco if I am currently living abroad? If you are temporarily living abroad, you may be able to re-register and request a ballot by mail, fax, or email by visiting registertovote.ca.gov or fvap.gov.