County of Sonoma, California
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Vote by Mail

Vote by Mail Voters

If you are not able to vote at your polling place on Election Day, or simply prefer the convenience of voting by mail, you may apply for a Vote by Mail ballot.

California law allows official ballots to be mailed to Vote by Mail voters beginning 29 days before an election.

Returning Vote by Mail Ballots

Vote by Mail ballots may be returned:

  • To the Registrar of Voters Office by mail or in person.
  • In person to any polling place in Sonoma County on Election Day.
  • All ballots must be returned in blue envelope, signed and dated by the voter. Signatures will be checked against the signature on file. If you did not sign your envelope, you may receive an Unsigned Ballot Statement in the mail. You may complete and return the form according to the instructions on the form in order to have your ballot counted. If you did not sign your ballot envelope and do not have your Unsigned Ballot Statement form you may print this form, sign it, and return it according to the instructions on the form. Unsigned Ballot Statement (PDF: 74 kB)

Deadline for Receiving Vote by Mail Ballots

Vote by Mail ballots delivered in person must be received at 8 pm on Election Day, to either:

Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked before or on Election Day and delivered to the Registrar of Voters office via USPS or a bona fide private mail delivery company no later than three days after Election Day.

If you wish to find out if your ballot was counted (or if not, the reason for rejection) visit the Vote by Mail Ballot Status Lookup page or call 565-6800 or 1 (800) 750-8683 toll free after the official canvass is complete (3-4 weeks after the election).

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Permanent Vote by Mail Voters

California law permits you to choose to become a Permanent Vote by Mail voter when you complete your Vote by Mail application or re-register to vote.

When You Request Permanent Vote by Mail Status

You will be added to the list of voters who are automatically sent an official ballot for future elections.

Loss of Vote by Mail Voter Status

You will remain on the list of Permanent Vote by Mail voters unless you fail to return your Vote by Mail ballot for 4 consecutive statewide general elections:

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"Mailed Ballot Only" Voters

In any given election, registered voters may reside within a precinct that contains a unique set of districts that are distinct from surrounding precincts. What's more, there may be relatively few registered voters residing in that unique precinct.

If a precinct contains less than 250 registered voters, California law allows the Registrar of Voters Office to provide:

  • Vote by Mail ballot to each voter.
  • Notice that there will be no polling place for that precinct.

    The notice must inform voters of the 2 nearest polling places, in the event the voter wishes to return the ballot in person on Election Day.

Return postage for "Mailed Ballot Only" voters is paid by the Registrar of Voters Office.

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Voters in the Military

Register To Vote

If you are active military personnel, or an eligible spouse or dependent, you should register to vote with the Federal Post Card Application and select Box 1(a).

Voting While in the Military

While you are on active duty, approximately 60 days before an election, you will be sent your:

This information is delivered to you based on the preferred method for Ballot receipt noted on your Federal Post Card Application (e-mail, fax, or mail).

Change of Address Notification

Notify the Registrar of Voters Office of any change of mailing address.

Leaving the Military

If you leave the military: you need to re-register to vote as a civilian using a standard voter registration form.

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Voters Living Overseas

If you live overseas temporarily (for employment purposes for example), you should register to vote with the Federal Post Card Application and select Box 1(b).

When you return to the United States, you need to re-register to vote as a civilian using a standard voter registration form.

If you reside outside the U.S. indefinitely, you should register to vote with the Federal Post Card Application and select Box 1(c).

Voting While Overseas

While you are living overseas, approximately 60 days before an election you will be sent:

This information is delivered to you based on the preferred method for Ballot receipt noted on your Federal Post Card Application (e-mail, fax, or mail).

Change of Address Notification

Notify the Registrar of Voters Office when your:

  • Mailing Address or Residence has changed.
  • Residence resumes in the U.S.

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Voting & Returning Vote by Mail Ballots

Note: Vote by Mail ballot envelopes have been redesigned to protect your signature.

Voting Your Ballot

  • It is important to know how to properly mark your ballot. Carefully read your ballot, as it will tell you how many votes you may cast for each contest. Card reading machines “see” the marks you make and tabulate your votes.
  • Use a #2 pencil or dark pen – no red ink!
  • Marking more voting spaces than allowed is called an “overvote,” and none of your votes for that contest will be counted. Conversely, if you mark fewer voting spaces than allowed, it is an “undervote,”and all votes for that contest will be counted.
  • You are not required to vote on every contest on your ballot.
  • Do not sign the ballot card(s), make any stray marks, or attempt to erase a vote if you make a mistake, contact the Registrar of Voters Office for Instructions.
  • Be sure to return all cards whether you voted them or not.

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After Voting Your Ballot

  1. Insert the voted ballot card(s) into the Secrecy Envelope.
  2. Enclose the Secrecy Envelope in the Identification Envelope.
  3. Sign the Oath on the Identification Envelope.

    All signatures on Vote by Mail ballots are verified; your ballot will not be counted if you do not sign the Oath on the Identification Envelope.

  4. Insert the sealed & signed Identification Envelope into the Mailing Envelope.
  5. Mail it back (or return in person) to the Registrar of Voters Office.

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Returning Your Vote by Mail Ballot

Voted ballots may be hand delivered to the Elections Office or any polling place no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked before or on Election Day.

If you are unable to personally return your Vote by Mail ballot, you may authorize any person to return your ballot to the Elections Official.

Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked before or on Election Day and delivered to the Registrar of Voters office via USPS or a bona fide private mail delivery company no later than three days after Election Day.

IMPORTANT! SIGN AND DATE THE BLUE ENVELOPE FOR YOUR BALLOT TO COUNT. By law, the signature on the envelope must be verified against the signature on the voter’s registration card. You may sign your name in pen or pencil.

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Voting at a Polling Place

Vote by Mail voters may vote at polling places on Election Day.

A poll worker will ask you to surrender the ballot you received in the mail (turn it in to the poll worker) before issuing you a ballot at the polling place.

If you are unable to surrender your Vote by Mail ballot, you will be issued a provisional ballot.

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Vote by Mail Application

To Become a Vote By Mail Voter do one of the following:

  • Print the County of Sonoma Application Form (PDF: 48 kB).
    1. Carefully read and complete an application form.
    2. Return the completed application to the Registrar of Voters Office.
  • Remove the application printed on the back cover of the County Voter Information Guide that is mailed to you.
    1. Carefully read and complete an application form.
    2. Return the completed application to the Registrar of Voters Office.
  • Write a Letter and include the following information:
    1. The Election for which you are requesting a ballot
    2. Your Name
    3. Residence Address
    4. Mailing Address (if different)
    5. Your Signature

    Mail or fax the letter to the Registrar of Voters Office.

  • Apply In Person at the Registrar of Voters Office

    You may obtain and complete an application form at the Registrar of Voters Office.

    You will receive your ballot before you leave.

    Once you receive your ballot, you may:

    • Vote your ballot at the Registrar of Voters Office.
    • Take it with you & return it by mail.
  • Send Someone on Your Behalf to the Registrar of Voters Office

    If you are unable to personally deliver your Vote by Mail application, you may choose to send an eligible representative (must be 16 years of age or older) to deliver your completed application form for you:

    • Spouse
    • Child
    • Parent
    • Grandparent
    • Grandchild
    • Sibling
    • Person residing in your same household

    The representative will be given your Vote by Mail ballot to deliver back to you.

    Note: An eligible representative may also return the ballot for you, if you do not return it by mail.

  • Visit the California Secretary of State: Apply to Vote By Mail page to print an application.

Deadline for Requesting a Vote by Mail Ballot

The last day to request a Vote by Mail ballot by mail is 7 days prior to an election, after which Vote by Mail ballots are available only by applying in person at the Registrar of Voters Office.

There are limited exceptions to this requirement. After the 7-day deadline, contact the Registrar of Voters Office if you are unable to go to the polls because of unanticipated illness, disability, or other condition that results in your absence from the precinct.

Additional Information

To obtain more information about voting by mail, you may:

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