County of Marin - News Releases - Voters as Partners

Lynda Roberts, Registrar of Voters, Elections

For Immediate Release
August 28, 2020

With Voters as Partners, Registrar Shares Election Plan

We’ve all been adjusting to a “new normal” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The same will be true for the November 3 general election. This will not be business as usual, and news about potential delays in U.S. mail processing is causing some anxiety. But California has many laws in place to ensure smooth processing of ballots: 

  • Ballots will be mailed 29 days before the election. All active registered voters automatically will be sent a ballot in the mail starting October 5. Ballots will be treated as first-class mail. Call (415) 473-6456 if your ballot does not arrive by October 13.
  • Ballot return envelopes have pre-paid postage and will be treated as first class mail. Envelopes must be postmarked by November 3. The U.S. Postal Service encourages voters to mail their ballot at least seven days before Election Day.
  • The election mail logo on ballot envelopes helps postal workers quickly identify them.
  • For this election, ballots received by November 20 can be processed if postmarked by November 3.
  • Voters have the option to return their ballot at an Elections Department drop box up to 28 days before the election or at any polling place beginning three days before the election, anywhere in the state.
  • Voters can sign up for Where’s My Ballot tracking tool: BallotTrax.

Voters may visit the Marin County Elections Department starting October 5 to receive a vote-by-mail ballot early, receive a replacement ballot, register and vote, or vote on an accessible ballot marking device. 

There will be fewer polling places for this election because of state executive orders and legislation. They will be open October 31, November 1, and November 2 for eight hours each day, and of course on November 3, Election Day, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters needing to go to their assigned polling place for a replacement ballot, to register and vote, or to vote on an accessible marking device are advised to go before Election Day to avoid lines. Masks and social distancing protocols will be required at all polling places and a limited number of people at any one time will be allowed in the polling place for the safety and protection of poll workers and other voters.

Voters can help to ensure a smooth election and reduce lines at polling places by:

  • Voting by mail. This will be the safest way to vote during this pandemic and avoid lines at polling places.
  • Registering to vote now or checking registration status so their ballot is mailed on October 5.
  • Updating their signature by re-registering or signing and returning the informational postcard recently mailed. Online voter registration will use a voter’s DMV signature.
  • Reading the Voter Information Guide to learn more about changes and voting options such as Remote Accessible Vote by Mail. Guides will be mailed starting September 24.
  • Signing the ballot return envelope. Voters will receive a letter if their signature is missing or does not match their voter registration form. That delays processing ballots and extends the time it takes to certify an election.
  • Sending the voted ballot back as early as possible, allowing someone they know and trust to return the ballot, or using one of the secure drop boxes throughout the county. Ballot drop boxes will be available starting October 6 and a location list will be posted at
  • Signing up for ballot tracking service at BallotTrax to receive automatic email, text, or voice call notifications about ballot status.

Remember, in California we can process your returned ballot before Election Day, which helps us to produce final results faster after Election Day. Signature verification on vote-by-mail ballot envelopes takes time to ensure security and accuracy. Dropping off your return ballot on Election Day requires time to count and process your ballot, delaying certified results. 

All voters should make a safe voting plan. With voters as our partners, the Elections Department staff can make this a smooth and safe election for everyone. 



Lynda Roberts
Registrar of Voters
Elections Department

Marin Civic Center Administration Building
3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 121
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6401
Email: Lynda Roberts
Elections website