Voting by Mail (VBM)

​VBM has Been Around for Over 20 Years

  • The VBM program has been in place since 2002. Over the past 20 years, the percentage of voters that vote by mail has increased from 35.51% (2002) to 94.03% (2022). Voters have demonstrated that by-and-large, they prefer voting by mail.
  • California Election Code requires counties to mail a ballot to every active, registered voter, while retaining the option to vote in person.
  • Over the past 20 years, the procedures to safeguard VBM voting and make voting easier have matured into a robust, secure process.

VBM Essentials: Sign, Seal, Deliver

Sign: Remember to sign your VBM return envelope and seal it shut before sending it. It must be signed to be counted. Your signature is compared to your signature in the Voter File, which is often the signature on your driver’s license.

Deliver: You can return your VBM ballot by mail, by Ballot Drop Box, or personally at any in-person Vote Center on or before 8:00pm Election Day. If mailing it must be postmarked by Election Day. Email for more information

Voters may designate a person to return their VBM ballot. It should be someone known and trusted.

VBM is Safe and Secure

  • VBM is a highly regulated process. Systematic fraud is nearly impossible due to multiple checkpoints, people, and systems that coordinate to keep your vote safe.
  • Safeguards are in place to prevent fraud. Ballots cannot be forwarded by the United States Postal Service (USPS). If you move and you don’t update your address, your ballot will be returned to the Voter Registration and Elections (VRE) office. You will need to vote in-person or contact VRE for a replacement ballot.
  • VBM ballot return envelopes are assigned unique ID numbers, including re-issued ballots to ensure that voters only vote once.
  • There is a paper ballot for every vote cast, even our accessible system produces a paper record of votes.
  • Ballot Tracking: Voters can track their VBM ballot to know when it is mailed, received, and processed by VRE. This provides a voter information on where their ballot is during the election process. Sign up for notifications at the Secretary of State’s office at
  • VBM ballots are retrieved with strict chain of custody procedures with two-person teams to pick up ballots from the USPS or Official Ballot Drop Boxes.
  • Signature Comparison: VBM ballot envelope signatures are compared to the voters’ signatures in the Voter File.
  • Cure Process: Letters are sent to voters who did not sign the return envelope or whose signatures do not match to give the voter the opportunity to “cure” their VBM challenge status.
  • Safeguards are in place to prevent voting twice. Only the first ballot received is counted and the Election Management System is updated in real time to prevent the issue of a second ballot at a Vote Center or for mailing.
  • Safeguards also detect if a voter tried to vote twice in separate counties in the state.
  • The vote tabulation systems and voting equipment are not connected to the internet.
  • Elections operations use auditing measures during the canvass to assure the vote tabulation system tallied the votes correctly.

VBM is Convenient

  • VBM ballots are mailed at least 29 days before the election, allowing ample time for the voter to study the issues and vote.
  • Voters don’t have to take time off from work to vote on Election Day.
  • VBM return envelopes come with pre-paid postage. No stamps are needed.
  • Remote Accessible Vote by Mail (RAVBM): If you need accessibility features to vote your VBM ballot, you are out of state, or it is too late to receive a ballot in the mail, you can request a RAVBM ballot which will give you access to an online secure ballot marking system. VBM Increases Voter Turnout
  • There has been an increase in turnout everywhere VBM has been implemented. 

VBM Does Not Benefit One Party Over Another

All studies show that VBM benefits all parties and does not discriminate.

Top Reasons Why VBM Ballots are Not Counted

  • The VBM return envelope is not signed.
  • The signature on the envelope does not compare to the signature on file.
  • The ballot is not returned in the VBM return envelope.
  • There is no ballot inside the VBM return envelope.