Voting can be an intimidating experience for those who are new to it or maybe haven’t voted in a while. The best way to feel confident about voting is to be prepared and know what to expect before you enter the polling place. Staff writer Meredith Radford talked with Rachel Raper, director of the Orange County Board of Elections, about commonly asked questions concerning voting in Orange County.
Am I registered to vote?
You can use the state's voter lookup tool to find out if you are registered to vote, what county you are registered in, what party you registered with and your designated Election Day polling location.
What if I forgot to register?
Voter registration ended Feb. 7, but you can still register and vote on the same day if you go during early voting.
But I’m already registered to vote in a different area. Can I vote here?
You must be registered to vote with your Orange County address in order to be eligible to vote in Orange County. If you want to vote at your other address, you'll either have to request an absentee ballot by Feb. 25 or travel to vote in that county.
When should I vote?
You can vote during early voting: Feb. 13-21 and Feb. 24-29. There are six polling locations for early voting that can be found on the board of elections website, and you can vote at whichever is most convenient for you.
If you don't make it during early voting, you have to vote at your designated polling place on March 3.
What ballot do I vote on?
There are different ballots for each party. If you are registered with a party, you will vote on that respective party’s ballot.
If you are registered unaffiliated, you can choose to vote on either the Democratic, Republican or Libertarian ballots. The Constitution and Green parties have closed primaries, so you may only vote on their ballot if you are registered with one of those parties.
Sample ballots can be found here.
It’s important to note that there is a front and back of the ballots, so make sure to flip to both sides when you vote!
Do I need an ID to vote?
Photo ID is not required for the March 3 primary.
However, Raper said if you did not provide a driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number when you registered to vote, or if the numbers you provided didn’t validate, you may need an ID to help verify yourself the first time you vote.
She said in that case, you should have received a verification card after you registered to vote that says “ID needed for first-time voter."
Raper said she recommends bringing a form of ID just in case there is an issue with your registration.
What about an ID for early voting?
While you do not need an ID for early voting if you are already registered to vote, those who plan to register and vote on the same day during early voting need to bring a government document with their name and current address in order to register. Raper said you can use your student ID to register during early voting if you live on campus, or in case there was an issue during your initial registration.
What do I do once I get to the polling place?
Once you enter the polling location, there will be plenty of signs that you can follow.
Raper said you will approach a check-in table and state your name, address and party affiliation. Then, a worker will give you an authorization-to-vote form. You will sign that form, take it to the ballot table, get your ballot and take it to a voting booth. Orange County uses paper ballots, so you will mark your ballot and then place it in the ballot scanning equipment.
Could I be turned away when I show up to vote?
Raper said no one should be turned away from a polling location.
She said if you aren’t registered by the end of early voting and try to vote on March 3, you will be offered a provisional ballot on which you will fill out your information and vote. That ballot will then be sent to the Board of Elections for review to see if you were eligible to vote in the election.
If you accidentally go to the wrong polling site on Election Day, you can either travel to the correct one, or you can fill out a provisional ballot.
If it is found that you were eligible, your vote will be counted. If you were not eligible to vote, then the provisional ballot will register you to vote in the next election.
“We encourage people to just come on out and vote the provisional ballot, even if you’re not sure if you registered, because we want to get you registered,” Raper said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.