What to Know
- Election Day is Nov. 8, when polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- All registered voters in California receive a vote-by-mail ballot a few weeks ahead of Election Day.
- There are several ways to cast ballots, including mail, dropboxes, vote center dropoff and voting in-person on Nov. 8.
Voting has been underway for weeks in Southern California, where voters are making decisions on local races, seven statewide ballot measures and Congressional contests that will determine the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans.
More than 3.8 million of those vote-by-mail ballots have already been returned, whether by drop box, drop-off locations like vote centers or mail. according to the Secretary of State. In Los Angeles County, the state's most populous, more than 977,000 ballots had been cast as of Sunday. That's about 17 percent of the county's roughly 5.6 million registered voters.
California uses a top-two election format in which only the two leading vote-getters advance to the November general election, regardless of party.
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Here's what voters in Southern California should know about casting a ballot in the Nov. 8 General Election.
Key Dates for California voters to Know
- Oct. 10: County elections officers begin mailing out vote-by-mail ballot on or before this date.
- October 24: This is the last day to register to vote. California offers same-day voter registration, which allows people to register at vote centers, then cast a provisional ballot. Click here to check your registration status and take action. To register online you will need a California driver license or California identification card number, the last four digits of your social security number and your date of birth. You must be 18 years old or older on Election Day to vote in California.
- Nov. 8: Election Day. Poll are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you're in line by 8 p.m., you can vote.
Where and How to Cast Your Ballot in the November Election
All register California voters are sent a vote-by-mail ballot from their county elections office. Those should be received a few weeks before Election Day.
If you are voting by mail, it must be postmarked on or before Election Day. When mailing your ballot there is no postage required.
If you return your ballot in person or via dropbox, it must be delivered no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots can be returned to any polling place in the state or your county elections office. Visit your county elections site below for dropbox locations.
Or, you can be part of the shared event that celebrates democracy in action by voting in-person on Election Day.
Use the NBC News Plan Your Vote tool to find a polling place and more.
Click the county elections sites below for more details about vote center locations and other options to cast your ballot.
How to Track Your Election Ballot in California
Votes should receive a ballot in the mail a few weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 Election Day. If you didn't, or you want to know what happened to your ballot after returning it, California offers a ballot tracking system. Click here to track your ballot, find out whether you're registered, locate a polling place and more.
Karen Bass or Rick Caruso?
The once-crowded Los Angeles mayor's race is a two-candidate battle between billionaire Rick Caruso and Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Bass. Twelve candidates made the cut for the primary ballot
Caruso built a fortune investing in high-end shopping centers and resorts. The Republican-turned-Democrat spent millions of that fortune with TV and online ads.
Bass, once considered a possible pick for Joe Biden's running mate, has strong support from progressive Democrats. The mayor's race is technically non-partisan.
Both have high-profile endorsements and support from Los Angeles celebrities. Lakers great Earvin “Magic” Johnson is backing Bass. Caruso has support from Snoop Dogg, South LA community organizer Sweet Alice Harris and actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
Other city of Los Angeles races include controller, city attorney and City Council districts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15. Elections for Los Angeles City Council districts 1, 3, 7 and 9 include only two candidates and will be decided.
Will There Be a New Sheriff in Town?
Voters also will decide whether Sheriff Alex Villanueva deserves another four-year term. He faced eight challengers in the primary, but Villanueva and retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna emerged as clear favorites and advanced to the General Election runoff.
Two of the county's five Board of Supervisor seats also are on the ballot. Board members have clashed regularly with Villanueva during his tenure.
Governor, Other State Offices at Stake
Democrats hold every statewide office in California and the party's voters outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 2-to-1. Gov. Gavin Newsom fended off a recall effort last year and faced more than two dozen little-known challengers in the primary. California state senator Brian Dahle, who received 17% of the vote in the primary, is Newsom's Republican challenger in the General Election.
Other state office races include lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state controller, treasurer, attorney general, insurance commissioner, member of state board of equalization and state superintendent of public instruction.
California Races to Watch in the Battle for Congress
One race to watch in Southern California is in a Congressional district north of Los Angeles that has been a battleground during recent election cycles. Several Democrats are vying to unseat 27th District Rep. Mike Garcia, who advanced to the November runoff with Democratic challenger Christy Smith. In 2020, Garcia won a narrow victory in the Democratic-leaning district. The former Navy fighter pilot was endorsed by Donald Trump that year, then joined House Republicans who rejected electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania and opposed Trump’s impeachment after the Capitol insurrection. The district includes part of the San Fernando Valley, a swath of the Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita.
District 45 offers a race to watch in Orange County. Won by Michelle Steel in 2020, redistricting reshaped the contest. Steel's home in Seal Beach was re-drawn into the same district as Rep. Katie Porter, and she elected to run the 45th District instead of 47th. She faces a challenge from Democrat Jay Chen.
As for Porter, she faces a challenge from Republican attorney Scott Baugh, a former state assemblyman and Orange County GOP chair.
And then there's Bass' seat in the House of Representatives. Seven primary candidates were competing to succeed her in Congressional District 37. State Sen. Sydney Kamlager has Bass' backing. Councilwoman Jan Perry picked up an endorsement from Rep. Maxine Waters.
Californians will decide seven ballot propositions Nov. 8, a relatively short list for voters who are regularly asked to decide a raft of measures that cover a variety of subjects.
Prop 1: Abortion Rights in State Constitution
This ballot measure would amend the California Constitution to make reproductive freedom a fundamental right. California has some of the most robust protections in the country and already protects reproductive rights under privacy laws. This measure goes further by explicitly prohibiting the state from denying or interfering with reproductive freedom, including decisions about whether to have an abortion and choose or refuse contraceptives.
Prop 26: Tribal Casinos Sports Betting
There are two sports betting measures on the ballot. Prop 26 would allow in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and California's four horse race tracks. Tribal casinos also could start offering roulette and dice games, including craps.
Proposition 27: Allowing Online Sports Betting
This measure would ok licensed tribes and gaming companies to offer mobile and online sports betting in California. Gaming companies, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, would need to be affiliated with a tribe. Tribes and gambling companies would pay 10 percent of bets made every month to the state. Most of that money would be used to combat homelessness and help people with gambling addictions.
Proposition 28: Funds for Arts and Music Education
This measure would provide funds for music and arts programs in all preschool and K-12 public schools, including charters. The bulk of the money would be used to hire teachers and staff.
Proposition 29: New Rules for Dialysis Clinics
Prop 29 is the third dialysis clinic initiative to make the ballot in the last four years. Previous attempts to increase restrictions kidney dialysis centers failed in 2018 and 2020. This version would require clinics to have a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant on site during treatment hours.
Proposition 30: Millionaires Tax for EVs
Californians making more than $2 million per year would face a 1.75-percent personal income tax increase per year under this measure. The tax dollars would help fund climate programs, creating a new stream of revenue for the subsidization of zero-emissions vehicles. About 80 percent of the money would establish rebates for zero-emission vehicle buyers and to build charging stations. A smaller portion of the tax money would be used to help hire and train firefighters.
Proposition 31: Uphold the Flavored Tobacco Ban
A 'Yes' vote on Prop 31 upholds a 2020 law that bans the sale of some flavored tobacco products. A 'No' vote overturns it. Flavored cigarettes, e-cigarettes, pods for vape pens, tank-based systems and chewing tobacco are all covered under the ban, proposed as a way of keeping flavored tobacco away from kids. That 2020 law hasn't gone into effect because Prop 31 qualified for the California ballot.