Vote By Mail Q&A

On August 10, 2018, new legislation went into effect that changes the options voters have when voting by mail, AND, IMPORTANTLY, changes the way SOME voters have been assigned to vote in future elections. If you voted by mail in the 2016 General Election, the new law has assigned you to be a “Vote-By-Mail Voter”unless you notify your county clerk in writing that you want to be removed from the permanent vote-by-mail list.

Following are some answers to questions voters have raised about how the new law might affect them:

#1 Q:  I voted a paper ballot in person at my County Clerk’s Office for the 2016 General Election. Why am I on the “All Future Elections” vote-by-mail list?
      A:  While you didn’t technically “vote by mail” you did vote a “Vote by Mail/Absentee” ballot when you applied for an early paper ballot at your Clerk’s Office. If you want to continue voting early in person at your Clerk’s Office, then you should notify your county clerk that you want your name removed from the “All Future Elections” vote-by-mail list. Likewise, if you want to be able to go to your regular polling place and vote on the voting machines, you should notify your clerk to remove your name from the list as well. As long as your name is on the list to receive mail-in ballots, you will NOT be able to vote on the voting machines at your polling place.

#2 Q: I voted by mail in the 2016 General Election, but I prefer going to the polls. What do I have to do? 
      A:  You need to “opt out.” You should have received a notice and “Opt-Out” form from your County Clerk’s Office in September, advising you of your new status to automatically receive mail-in ballots for all future elections. You should return the “Opt-Out” form to notify your clerk that you want your name removed from the ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS vote-by-mail list. If you no longer have the form, simply write to your county clerk and tell them you want your name removed from the list; be sure to include your full name, address, date of birth, and phone number.
NOTE:  Voters on the ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS vote-by-mail list can choose to opt-out at any time; SEE Question #6.

#3 Q:  I was overseas in 2016 when I voted by absentee/mail-in ballot. I applied using a Federal Postcard Application (FPCA). Am I on a list to automatically receive mail-in ballots?
      A:  No. There was no provision in the new law to transfer FPCA applicants to an “All Future Election” designation. If you want to vote by mail in every future election (you’re eligible for), you will have to apply using the Application For Vote By Mail Ballot and check ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS in Section 1. However, this application does not provide all of the voting options afforded by  applying via the FPCA. 

#4 Q:  I voted by mail in the 2016 general election, and since then I also requested to be put on the list to automatically receive mail-in ballots for All General Elections Only. Is this still an option?
      A:  No. The new law only offers voters two options:  vote by mail in every future election, OR apply for a mail-in ballot for a single election. After the 2018 General Election, your county clerk will be contacting voters who were on the list to receive mail-in ballots for “All General Elections” to advise them that option is no longer available. These voters will be provided with the updated Vote By Mail Ballot Application and can choose to have their name added to the “All Future Elections” vote-by-mail list, or only apply for a mail-in ballot in singular elections of their choosing. 

#5 Q:  I received an “Opt-Out” notice from my county clerk, but I like voting by mail. Do I have to opt-out?
       A: 
No. If you were placed on the ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS vote-by-mail list and that is how you want to vote, then you should not opt out. Simply do nothing. You will start to receive mail-in ballots automatically for every future election until you notify the county clerk that you no longer wish to receive mail-in ballots.

#6 Q:  I received an “Opt-Out” notice from my county clerk, but I missed the Sept. 14 deadline to mail it back. Can I still opt out of receiving mail-in ballots?
       A: 
Yes, it is never too late to opt out. However, depending on when your opt-out form is received, it may be too late to stop your ballot from being mailed to you for the current election cycle. If the Clerk receives your opt-out form after September, your ballot may already have been mailed to you. This is because clerks are required by law to begin mailing ballots 45 days before Election Day. If your mail-in ballot was already mailed for the 2018 General Election, you should vote that ballot because you will not be permitted to vote on the voting machines at your regular polling place. The clerk will process your opt-out form in time for the next scheduled election, so that you will not automatically receive a ballot for that election.  

#7 Q:  I submitted an application to vote by mail earlier this year and checked the “A” BOX to receive mail-in ballots for the entire calendar year. Now I just received an Opt-Out notice (because I voted by mail in 2016). I want to receive my mail-in ballot for this coming November’s election, but I don’t want to be on the permanent vote-by-mail list. What do I do?
      A: 
You should complete and return the opt-out form. The Clerk will still honor your 2018 application to receive mail-in ballots for all elections occurring in 2018; you WILL receive the mail-in ballot you requested for the 2018 General Election. Opting out will remove your name from the ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS list so that you will not automatically receive ballots for any elections after 2018. 

#8 Q:  I submitted an application to vote by mail earlier this year and checked the “B” BOX to receive mail-in ballots for “All General Elections Only.” Now I just received an Opt-Out notice (because I voted by mail in 2016). I want to receive my mail-in ballot for this coming November’s election, but I don’t want to be on the permanent vote-by-mail list. What do I do?
      A:  You should complete and return the opt-out form. The Clerk will still honor your 2018 application to receive mail-in ballots for the 2018 general election; however, opting out will remove your name from the ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS list so that you will not automatically receive ballots for any elections after 2018. 

#9 Q:  If I opt out of remaining on the permanent vote-by-mail list, can I still vote by mail sometimes?
      A:  Yes. You will simply have to complete an Application For Vote By Mail Ballot for each election in which you want to vote by mail.

#10 Q:  I think I may have voted by mail last year, or maybe in the 2018 June Primary. Does that mean I am on the list to receive mail-in ballots for ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS?
A:  No. The law stipulates that only those voters who requested and received mail-in ballots in the 2016 General Election will be assigned to the ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS vote-by-mail list.