Voting is one of the most important rights we have as citizens of the United States, of California, and of San Francisco. With important elections coming up, we want to encourage everyone to make their voices heard by voting. While many people vote via mail these days, some voters still prefer to vote “in person.” Assuming you have registered to vote, you have to locate your polling place in San Francisco, which can be confusing as election-to-election, these can move around.
Register to Vote
To vote, you must register. The law is that you need to do this more than 15 days prior to election day. To register online, visit https://registertovote.ca.gov/. If you missed the registration deadline, do it now so that you’ll be registered for the next election!
Vote by Mail
Here are some tips to finding your polling place. First, if you received your ballot in the mail, you can vote by mail. The requirement is that the ballot be postmarked on or before election day. However, on election day you can return your ballot to any polling place in San Francisco; or you can use the 24 hour drop boxes, which are open until 8 pm on election day. To find the 24 hour drop box location, visit https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/prior-elections/statewide-election-results/general-election-november-8-2016/county-early-voting/#san-francisco. Second, there is early voting which occurs at City Hall as well.
Find Your Polling Place
Next, let’s assume you want to vote in person and you have registered to vote in San Francisco. You can look up whether you are registered to vote or not using the California voter tool at https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/. If you use this system and scroll down, you can find your polling place for the upcoming election. Alternatively, you can visit the polling place tool at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/polling-place/. Here, you just have to enter your address and the tool will tell you your polling place which gets you to the very specific tool for San Francisco city and county at at https://sfelections.org/tools/pollsite/. If you’re into technology, you can also literally just go to Google and type in “Find my polling place” and Google will attempt to find it for you as well. Try it at https://goo.gl/ZcZG9d. All polling places in California are open on election day from 7 am to 8 pm.
Finally, if you’re mystified about the rules on elections, the California Secretary of State publishes and in-depth FAQ on voting at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/frequently-asked-questions/. It’s a detailed read about voter registration, the primary and general elections and even explains how you can run for office.
Voting is a Precious Right
Voting is a precious right, so be sure to vote. Educate yourself on the candidates and issues and make up your own mind. Be sure to register, and stay registered (which you do by continuing to vote).