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How To Safely Submit Your Election Ballot

Don Sniegowski/flickr


Some Southern California voters have been shocked to find out they’ve been dropping their ballots off at unauthorized locations.Reports of the unofficial ballot boxes are limited to Southern California counties, but election officials say all voters should be careful when sending in their ballots. That got us wondering: how do voters here in the Bay Area know if we’re submitting our ballots at the right spot? 


John Arntz, the director of elections in San Francisco, says for the most part the county is not providing ballot drop off boxes. Instead, the county is encouraging voters to use the many blue United States Postal Service collection boxes that are spread throughout the city. He says that’s the bestway to submit your ballot and USPS is very organized and well-prepared to handle this coming election. 


There are 1,400 USPS collection boxes in San Francisco. So far, the county has collected almost 60,000 ballots through them. Arntz says using the infrastructure that’s already in place – namely, those blue USPS boxes – is the county’s best option. 


But for those who don’t want to use USPS, Artnz mentioned one ballot drop off station in San Francisco at Civic Center Plaza, near city hall. He says that more stations like it will be installed during the weekend before the election. The stations will be staffed by election personnel, who will be wearing red vests, and IDs.  


Other counties are providing ballot drop off boxes. The state election office says to identify those you should look for boxes that are large and secure, with a slot that will allow ballots, but not packages. However, the exact look will vary county by county. 


The state is encouraging voters to keep track of their ballot’s location online.You can do that by going to the California Office of Elections website. And you can find a list of official ballot box locations in your county there, too.


Wren Farrell (he/him) is a writer, producer and journalist living in San Francisco.