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California offers a backup option for voters who miss the registration deadline

Voter registration deadline is Oct. 19
Conditional voter registration
Posted at 3:26 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 22:23:49-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming election is this Monday, Oct. 19, but unlike most states, California offers a backup option for people who miss the deadline.

It’s called conditional voter registration or same-day voter registration, a process that allows California voters to register in person through the last day to vote on Nov. 3. Voters who register conditionally must cast a provisional ballot, which takes longer to verify and appear in the final tally.

In the November 2018 midterm election, 2,353 voters used the conditional registration process, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office.

Starting Oct. 20, voters in San Diego County can register conditionally by visiting the Registrar’s Office in Kearny Mesa at 5600 Overland Avenue.

“They would register, and then go over and receive their ballot and vote that same day,” said Registrar Michael Vu.

Beginning Oct. 31, polling places will open, and voters can register conditionally and cast a ballot there. However, you will want to go to the polling place assigned to your address, which you can find at sdvote.com.

Voters who go to the wrong polling place will be allowed to vote for certain offices, like president, but they could have selections for local offices like city council invalidated if the polling place is located in a different district.

California started allowing conditional or same-day registration in 2017. It is one of 21 states to allow the practice.

Individuals seeking to register conditionally must provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number to prove they’re eligible, along with their address and other information.

Voters do not need to show ID or proof of residency, except in rare circumstances.

Once conditionally registered, the voter will be given a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot is just a ballot that’s placed in an extra envelope with a little more information from the voter so election workers do an added layer of verification before the ballot is counted. That takes time.

“Generally they are counted last,” Vu said.

There are other instances when voters might have to cast a provisional ballot: like if you’re registered but go to the wrong polling place, or if you want to vote in person and forget to bring your mail-in ballot to surrender. In some cases, poll workers can electronically view the status of your mail-in ballot without the need to surrender it, but in other cases the voter may have to vote provisionally.

With conditional voters, election officials will first verify that the person is eligible to vote, then they’ll make sure that person hasn’t voted already before adding their ballot to the tally.

Voters who successfully complete a conditional registration will automatically be considered registered for future elections.