Vote by Mail

All active registered California voters will receive a vote by mail ballot before election, per Assembly Bill 37 signed in September 2021. Ballots begin mailing 29 days before the election to registered voters; please allow seven to 10 days for the ballot to arrive. Voters still have the option to vote in person at any vote center.

Options to return regular vote by mail ballots:

Mail: Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and arrive at the Elections Office within seven days. If using a private carrier, the same rules apply. If you mail on Election Day, please check the last pickup time on the mailbox or mail slot. Anything dropped off after that time will not be postmarked that day.

Hand-delivery: Ballots must be dropped off by 8 p.m. on Election Day. They may be delivered to an authorized ballot drop box, vote center, curbside drop-off location or the Elections Office. Ballot drop boxes inside a business or office may not be open until 8 p.m. Check your voter guide or for more information.

Voters must sign the vote by mail envelope. The handwriting will be verified against the voter registration file. If the signature doesn’t closely resemble the voter signature on file or there is no signature, the voter will be mailed a form so they can provide a new signature to make the ballot eligible to be counted. Forms are also available on the homepage under Forms.

Requesting or Replacing a Vote by Mail Ballot

If you are registered but didn’t receive a vote by mail ballot, you have these options:

  • Call the Elections Office at 209-525-5200 or 209-525-5230 for Spanish. Be prepared to provide your name, residence address and birthdate. The last day a ballot can be mailed is five days before the election, and that doesn’t guarantee it will arrive in time.
  • Send an email to moc.ytnuocnats@etovnats requesting your ballot. Please provide your name, residence address and birthdate. The last day a ballot can be mailed is five days before the election, and that doesn’t guarantee it will arrive in time.
  • If you received your ballot but need a new one and the election is at least 10 days away, you can mark the “spoils box” on the left side of the return envelope flap and mail it back to us.
  • Go to any vote center or the Elections Office to get a new ballot. Check your voter guide or for vote center locations, dates and times. Ballots are available in the Elections Office 29 days before each election. Parking is easier at vote centers than the Elections Office. A relative or someone in your household can pick up a new ballot for you with a written request including your name, residence address, birthdate and signature.
  • Try Remote Accessible Vote by Mail. Go to stanvote, then click on the blue button that says Remote Accessible Vote by Mail (RAVBM). Learn about how it works and click on the link in the center of the page to access the system. You need Internet access and a printer to use RAVBM. You can view the voter guide and print a new ballot today. This is not online voting. The ballot must be mailed or hand-delivered with the same deadlines outlined above.

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Mistakes Made On Vote by Mail Ballots

You may not need a new ballot. If you want to vote for a different candidate or change your vote on a measure, simply draw a line through your original choice. Then mark the choice or choices you want.

If you still need a new ballot, please see the section above labeled Requesting or Replacing a Vote by Mail Ballot.

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Concern Regarding Timely Receipt of Ballots

If a ballot is mailed or hand-delivered prior to Election Day, but the voter has concerns that it may not have been received at the Elections Office on or before 8 p.m. Election Day, the voter may do the following:

  • Check on to see if the ballot has been processed. Ballot processing involves several steps, but we try to process ballots as quickly as possible. On the homepage at, select Your Ballot Information, then My Vote by Mail Ballot status. Enter your information to see the status of your ballot. You also can call the Elections Office at 209-525-5200 or 209-525-5230 for Spanish or send an email to moc.ytnuocnats@etovnats. Please provide your name, residence address and birthdate
  • If your ballot has not been processed, you can get another ballot at a vote center or the Elections Office. When the new ballot is issued, the original ballot is automatically suspended. Our system will block the original ballot from being processed.

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Military or Overseas Voter

If you are in the military or currently overseas you may qualify as a UOCAVA Voter (Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act). Your County elections official will process these ballot applications as early as 60 days prior to the election. (Elections Code Section 3105)

To apply as a UOCAVA Voter, you may need to complete a Federal Post Card Application, also known as an FPCA. To download an FPCA, go to and click on “Request an Absentee Ballot,” then follow the instructions on your screen to complete the application.

Send the completed application to our office via postal service at:

Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters
1021 "I" Street, Suite 101
Modesto, CA 95354

You may also fax your completed application to us at 209-525-5803.

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Vote by Mail Voting Historical Background

It was not until the Civil War that anyone thought of "absentee voting." Although the new concept was not very successful during that period, it did enable soldiers and sailors to vote for the first time while away on duty.

In 1896, Vermont passed the first statute extending the privilege of absentee voting to civilians and military personnel. Most legislation pertaining to absentee voting has been introduced during wartime, when large numbers of eligible voters have been serving their country in the Armed Forces. Consequently, during World War II, Congress created a War Ballot Commission to help service members exercise their right to vote in the 1944 general election.

There have been several amendments to the Constitution of the United States to protect the right of citizens to vote, as well as acts of Congress such as the Federal Voting Assistance Act in 1955 and the Overseas Citizens Voting Rights Act in 1975. These laws were replaced by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Vote by Mail Voting Act (Public Law 99-410), which requires states to allow certain groups of citizens a reasonable opportunity to register and vote in presidential and congressional elections. Individuals covered under this law include members of the U.S. Armed Forces or Merchant Marine and their dependents, and citizens residing outside the United States. Additionally, states have passed laws which allow these citizens to register and vote via the mail in federal and state elections.

Beginning in 2002, California Elections Code Section 3201 allowed any voter to apply for permanent absentee status and changed the term to vote by mail. The status previously had been available only to voters with certain disabilities.

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the November 2020 election, the state ordered counties to mail a vote by mail ballot to all active registered voters, although in-person voting remained available. These changes were authorized by Assembly Bill 860 and Senate Bill 423.

That process became permanent in September 2021, when Assembly Bill 37 was signed into law. Now all California voters will receive a vote by mail ballot in all elections. In-person voting remains available. In Stanislaus County, in-person voting occurs at vote centers. Voters can get a ballot there, vote it and place it in a scanner or get a replacement vote by mail ballot to take home. Voters can get a new vote by mail ballot at the elections office starting 29 days before each election, but the elections office does not have a ballot scanner.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in these pages was valid at the time of publication. The County Clerk / Recorder / Registrar of Voters reserves the right to modify, update, change or make improvements at any time, without notice, and assumes no liability for damages incurred directly or indirectly as a result of errors, omissions or discrepancies.