Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answered by the Ballot Simplification Committee
Who can vote?
U.S. citizens, 18 years or older, who are registered to vote in San Francisco can vote. Noncitizen residents of San Francisco who are parents, legal guardians or caregivers of children under the age of 19 living in San Francisco may register and vote in the November 3, 2020, Board of Education election.
What is the deadline to register to vote or to update my registration information?
The deadline to register online or by mail for the November 3, 2020, election is October 19, 2020. After that date, you will need to register and vote with a provisional ballot in person at a voting center or polling place.
Can I vote by mail in the November 3 election?
Yes. To protect public health and encourage voting by mail in the November 3, 2020, election, the Department of Elections will mail a vote-by-mail ballot packet to every registered voter in San Francisco.
Your vote-by-mail ballot packet will arrive in October and contain an official ballot, an instructional insert, an official postage-paid return envelope and an “I Voted!” sticker.
Can I use the Accessible Vote-by-Mail system to access my ballot?
Yes, you may access your ballot through the Accessible Vote-by-Mail (AVBM) system at
sfelections.org/access. The AVBM system allows voters to mark screen-readable ballots and is compatible with personal assistive technology. AVBM ballots must be printed and returned by mail or in person.
The use of AVBM system was previously limited to voters with disabilities, and military and overseas voters. However, for the November 3, 2020, election, any voter may use this system.
Are there ways to vote in person in the November 3 election?
Yes. There will be 588 polling places open for in-person voting and vote-by-mail ballot drop off on Election Day, November 3, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Additionally, the City Hall Voting Center will be open at these times:
• Every weekday, October 5–November 2, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
• Two weekends, October 24–25 and October 31–November 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and
• Election Day, November 3, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (same voting hours as polling places).
You are encouraged to vote early. When you vote early, either in person or by mail, you may be able to avoid wait times and crowded public spaces, and ensure the Department receives your ballot before Election Day to be counted.
My 18th birthday is after the registration deadline, but I turn 18 on or before Election Day. Can I vote in this election?
Yes. You can preregister to vote before your 18th birthday and vote in this election, as long as you meet all other voter registration qualifications.
If I was convicted of a crime, can I still vote?
You can register and vote if you are:
• In county jail serving a misdemeanor sentence, as condition of probation, or awaiting trial
• On probation
• On mandatory supervision
• On post-release community supervision
• On federal supervised release
• Subject to a juvenile wardship adjudication.
You cannot register and vote if you are:
• Imprisoned in state or federal prison
• Serving a state prison felony sentence in a county jail or other correctional facility
• In county jail awaiting transfer to a state or federal prison for a felony conviction
• In county jail for a parole violation
• On parole with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
After parole, the right to vote is restored, but you must re-register in order to be able to vote.
I have just become a U.S. citizen. Can I vote in this election?
Yes. If you became a U.S. citizen after the registration deadline (October 19) but on or before Election Day, you may register and vote at a voting center or polling place before 8 p.m. on Election Day.
I have moved within San Francisco but have not updated my registration prior to the registration deadline. Can I vote in this election?
Yes. You have the following options:
• Go to a voting center on or before Election Day, complete a new voter registration form and vote a provisional ballot; or
• Go to your new polling place on Election Day, re-register and cast a provisional ballot. You can look up the address of your new polling place by entering your new home address at
sfelections.org/myvotinglocation, or call (415) 554-4375.
I am a U.S. citizen living outside the country. How can I vote?
You can register to vote and request a ballot by mail, fax, or email by visiting registertovote.ca.gov or completing a Federal Post Card Application. Download the application from fvap.gov or obtain it from embassies, consulates or military voting assistance officers.
If I don’t know what to do when I get to my polling place, is there someone there to help me?
Yes. Poll workers at the polling place will help you, or you may visit sfelections.org or call the Department of Elections at (415) 554-4375 for assistance on or before Election Day.
You may also bring up to two people to the polls to assist you, as long as those people are not representatives of your employer or union.
Can I take my Sample Ballot or my own list into the voting booth?
Yes. Deciding your votes before you get to the polls is helpful. You may use either a Sample Ballot or the Ballot Worksheet in this pamphlet for this purpose.
Do I have to vote on every contest and measure on the ballot?
No. The votes you cast will be counted even if you have not voted on every contest and measure.