San Joaquin County - Registrar of Voters

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Registrar of Voters Department

Vote-by-Mail Information

Make sure your Vote is Counted Common Vote by Mail Mistakes (PDF)*

(Also known as "Absentee Voting")

Any registered voter may vote a "Vote-by-Mail ballot". To apply for a Vote-by-Mail ballot, you may use one of the following methods:

  1. Obtain Vote-by-Mail application by clicking below. Print the Vote-by-Mail application, fill it out COMPLETELY and DO NOT FORGET TO SIGN IT.
    Click HERE to obtain a Vote-by-Mail Ballot Application (PDF)*
  2. Apply in writing to: San Joaquin County Election/Voters Registration Office, P.O. Box 810, Stockton, CA. 95201. You MUST include the name and date of the election you are applying for (e.g. June 3, 2008 Primary Election), your printed name and signature, your residence address, the address you would like the ballot mailed to and a telephone number where you can be reached during normal business hours. You may also fax your written request to: The Registrar of Voters at (209) 468-9534.
  3. Use the application you receive in the Sample Ballot which is sent to each registered voter approximately 20 days prior to the election.
  4. Apply in person at the San Joaquin County Election/Voters Registration Office at 44 N. San Joaquin Street, Suite 350, Stockton, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

The first day a Vote-by-Mail ballot can be issued or mailed to a voter is 29 days before an election.

The last day our office may accept applications by mail is 7 days before an election.

A voter may receive a ballot in our office, in person, up to and including Election Day.

If you know you are going to Vote-by-Mail, it is in your best interest to apply as early as possible. We accept applications at any time, however, by law 29 days prior to an election is the earliest a ballot can be issued.

Once you have submitted your application for a Vote-by-Mail ballot, if you do not receive it within 7 days, please contact the San Joaquin County Election/Voters Registration Office at (209) 468-2885.

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Use a blue or black pen, or No.2 Lead Pencil ONLY.
Never make any identifying marks on your ballot.
Your ballot is no longer considered secret if there are any identifiable marks such as your initials, name or signature on the ballot card. The ballot would be considered void and cannot be counted. This does not include "write-in candidates".

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Voted ballot return deadline

A voter may return a ballot by mail or in person to the San Joaquin County Election/Voters Registration Office or to any polling place in San Joaquin County by 8:00 p.m. Election Day. Any ballot that arrives after 8:00 p.m. on Election Day will not be counted. A postmark on your Vote-by-Mail ballot return envelope before or on Election Day is not acceptable if the ballot arrives in our office after 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

It is important that the voter read and completely fill out the return envelope of a Vote-by-Mail ballot. In order for your ballot to count you MUST sign the envelope your ballot is returned in and indicate your residence address (not mailing address).

Having someone else return your voted ballot
If you do not mail your voted Vote-by-Mail Ballot and are unable to return it to the San Joaquin County Election/Voters Registration Office or a polling place in person, only your spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sister, brother, or a person residing in the voter's household can return your Vote-by-Mail Ballot for you. Also, you and the person returning the ballot must complete and sign the appropriate sections on the Vote-by-Mail ballot return envelope.

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Now any voter may apply for "Permanent Vote-by-Mail" status.

A voter whose name is placed on the "Permanent Vote-by-Mail" list shall be mailed a Vote-by-Mail ballot for each election conducted within his or her precinct.

If you wish to be placed on the "Permanent Vote-by-Mail" list, you must fill out a "Permanent Vote-by-Mail Application". Click here to view and print an application. (PDF)* Mail your completed application to PO BOX 810, STOCKTON, CA, 95201.

Once a voter is a permanent Vote-by-Mail voter he/she will retain that status as long as they vote in all statewide elections and need not apply each election. However, any permanent Vote-by-Mail voter who has not received their ballot within 2 weeks of the election should contact the San Joaquin County Election/Voters Registration Office immediately at (209) 468-2890.

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In general, Vote-by-Mail ballots are counted in the same manner as regular ballots cast at a polling place. Once it is determined that the signature on the Vote-by-Mail ballot return envelope matches that of the voter on his or her affidavit of registration form, the ballot and the envelopes are separated. The ballot is then intermingled anonymously with other ballots in order to preserve the voter's right to secrecy.

The first ballot counts you are likely to hear on election night usually reflect the votes cast by Vote-by-Mail ballot. These, however, are not a complete total and reflect only those Vote-by-Mail ballots returned prior to election day. Those ballots received prior to election day can be "processed" (signatures verified) as early as 7 days prior to the election. These ballots are ready to be counted as soon as the polls close on election day and this accounts for why Vote-by-Mail ballots are the first reported in the election night returns.

A substantial number of Vote-by-Mail ballots are returned on election day at the polls, which require extra handling to ensure the voter did not also vote at the polls. These ballots are usually the last to be counted and are not likely to be reported in the vote totals for several days after the election.

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* These documents can be viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader.
To install a free copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader, please click on the Get Acrobat Reader icon on the left.

© San Joaquin County 2008