Monterey county elections Monterey County Elections

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November 3, 2020 Presidential General Election

In an effort to reduce the impact of the Coronavirus spread and to be in line with public health and safety guidelines, Monterey County Elections (MCE) is working closely with local and state partners to ensure every voter has the opportunity to vote.

Please check this site often as information will be updated closer to the election and as more information becomes available.

By Order of the Governor and pursuant to recent legislation, all active voters will be mailed a ballot for the November 3, 2020 election.  This same legislation also mandates that in-person voting options be made available to those in our community who may need assistance.  After analysis of in-person voting options, taking into consideration safety, accessibility, and fiscal responsibility, Monterey County Elections has decided to move forward with polling places. Poll workers are needed. Please visit the Get Involved  page on this website or call (831) 796-1485 to sign up to be a poll worker. 

If you are a seasoned vote by mail voter or will be looking for a ballot in the mail for the first time, here are some tips:

  • Check your address information as soon as possible by visiting My Voter Status or call (831) 796-1499

  • Are you going to be out of town during the election? Call us with your temporary address and we will mail your ballot to where you are staying. Election material cannot be forwarded and will be returned to MCE.

  • Update your information at Register to Vote

  • Look for your ballot in the mail the first week of October (your ballot packet will include return instructions and your “I Voted” sticker)

  • Return your ballot in the mail (postage is paid) or to any drop-off location in the state

  • Sign up for Where’s My Ballot? to receive notifications about tracking your ballot

  • Sign up for Informed Delivery by USPS to see your mail before it arrives


The Presidential General Election combines different elections, across federal, state, and local jurisdictions.  Continue reading for more information related to important dates and frequently asked questions.


Important dates

October 5 to November 3

  • voting services available at the Elections office (including in-person voting)

October 5

  • all ballots and local voter information guides will be mailed by this date

  • ballot return locations open

October 19

  • last day for regular registration

October 27

  • last day MCE will mail ballots

  • recommended last day for voters to mail back ballots

November 3

  • last day to return ballots in-person

  • ballots must be postmarked no later than this date

  • last day to vote


Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I return my vote by mail ballot?

Voters have several return options available to them. These options include:

  • By mail: postage is prepaid and ballots must be postmarked by election day and received by the election official no later than 17 days after the election. 

  • In-person: ballots may be returned to any ballot return box in Monterey County beginning October 5th. A complete list will be included in your ballot material.

  • In-person: ballots may be returned to any early vote location in Monterey County beginning October 5th. This includes the Monterey County Elections office. A second early voting site on the Peninsula is pending.

  • In-person: ballots may be returned to any polling place in Monterey County on November 3rd.

  • In-person: ballots may be returned to any ballot return box/early vote location/ elections office/polling place/vote center in the State of California. 

I'm worried about USPS delivery times, what is Monterey County Elections doing about this?

We have worked in partnership with our local and regional United States Postal Services representatives for decades. Now, more than ever, we are actively working with them to ensure the priority delivery and return of vote by mail ballots. These representatives have assured us that the main processing center of the USPS, servicing our county, in San Jose is committed to the priority processing of vote by mail ballots. 

In general, outbound election mail is estimated to take between 3 to 10 days to reach our voters. Historically, it has taken between 1 to 4 days from the time ballots arrive at the USPS San Jose plant to the time ballots reach our voters. According to our USPS representative, there is a mailing plan in place to ensure adequate resources are available to process mail. Their plan includes an analysis of volume from 2016 and 2018 election mail deliveries and current and projected numbers provided by counties. Ultimately, we are told, that plant processing delivery is not going to change for us locally. 

With that being said, we are taking necessary steps to minimize the potential impact delivery times may have on our voters. MCE is committed to:

  • Mailing ballots by October 5th, or sooner

  • Expanding return ballot box services for in-person return

  • Expanding number of drop off boxes, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week

  • Maintaining the Elections office early voting site and exterior ballot return box

  • Adding an in-person early voting site to the Monterey Peninsula area

  • Maintaining polling places for ballot return on Election Day

Further, in response to the pandemic, urgency legislation was passed to extend the deadline in which election officials may accept a ballot postmarked by Election Day from 3 days after the election to 17 days after the election. 

Are you using the same ballot return locations from previous elections?

There will be changes to some ballot return locations. Some city clerk offices, traditionally used as return sites, are no longer available due to COVID-19. We will continue to have at least one return location in most cities. In addition, we will have ballot return locations in areas of unincorporated Monterey County including Carmel Valley, Prunedale, and Castroville. As part of our expansion of vote by mail return locations, MCE will add five exterior return boxes to be made available to voters for extended hours beginning October 5th. 

A list of return locations will be posted on our website as soon as they are finalized. In addition, a complete list of return locations and polling places will be included in each ballot packet. 

In addition to return locations in Monterey County, a voter can return a vote by mail ballot to any vote center/polling place/elections office/ballot return box in the State of California. If you are a Monterey County voter residing near the border of a neighboring county, you may find that the neighboring county has a return location that is closer to you than the return locations in Monterey County. Please feel free to return your ballot to the neighboring county. Call MCE for more information. 

What is on the ballot?

In the Presidential election you can vote for:

  • U.S. President and Vice President,

  • Congressperson,

  • California State Senator and State Assembly Member,

  • Local officers for your city, schools or special districts,

  • State propositions, and

  • Local measures.

Can I vote for a Presidential candidate from another party?

Yes.  In the general election, candidates who received their respective party’s nomination in the March primary will be on the ballot in November.  Each voter will see all nominees for president and the running mate for vice president representing each party and any independent candidates.


Besides President, what federal and state candidates can I vote for?

The two candidates, regardless of party, who received the most votes in the March Primary Election will be on the ballot in the November Presidential General Election. These seats include:

  • California legislators for your area: State Senator, State Assembly Member (you must reside in the area)

  • U.S. Offices: House of Representatives (countywide)

These seats follow the Top-Two Primary rules and will therefore have no write-in space.  


What county and local offices will be on the ballot?

Depending on where you live, you may also see the following contests on your ballot:

  • City Council/Mayor

  • Special District Board Members

  • School District Trustees and Governing Board Members

  • County Board of Supervisor, District 4: Because no candidate achieved over 50% of votes cast in the primary election, the two candidates with the most votes will be on the ballot in a run-off election.  There will be no write-in opportunity for this seat.

In addition, any seat for Superior Court Judge that was open in the primary may be forced to appear

on the ballot if an eligible candidate files using the write-in process.


Where can I get more information?

See common questions, below or contact us at:


Do I have to be registered with a political party to vote for president?

No.  In the presidential general election, your party preference will not impact which ballot you receive. 


Can I vote for candidates who are not in my party?

Yes.  You can vote for any candidate on your ballot. 


Do the “Top 2” primary rules apply to all races?

No.  Top 2 rules do not apply to races for President or local offices.  Only state constitutional offices, state legislative offices, and U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate offices fall under the “Top 2” rules.


Do the Top 2 candidates have to be from different parties?

No.  The Top 2 candidates might be from the same party, different parties, or have “no party preference”.


How will I know which party the candidates belong to?

If candidates disclose a party preference, it will be printed by their name on the ballot.  If they do not disclose their party, or do not have a political party preference, it will say “Party Preference: None.”

By law, candidates in local nonpartisan contests will not have a party preference listed by their name.

Sometimes party names are abbreviated like this:

AI       American Independent Party
DEM  Democratic Party
GRN  Green Party
LIB     Libertarian Party
PF     Peace & Freedom Party
REP  Republican Party


Can I still write in a candidate on my ballot?

Yes.  In certain contests you can write in the name of any qualified write-in candidate.  You can see a list of qualified write-in candidates on our website and at any in-person voting location.  There will be no write-in space for contests under the Top-2 primary rules.   


What happens if I write in a cartoon character or some other unqualified write-in name?

Only qualified candidates may receive write-in votes.  These are candidates who, in advance of the election, signed an oath stating that they meet the qualifications of office and that, if elected, they will serve.  If you write in the name of anyone other than a qualified write-in candidate, staff will still have to look at the name to make sure it is not qualified, no votes will count toward someone who has not filed official papers.  


What do I do if I make a mistake on my ballot?

If you make a mistake on your ballot, you can simply make a notation correcting your vote.  Please do not initial or sign your name after the correction.  You can also call us and ask for a replacement ballot.


I live in Marina/Salinas, why is my ballot missing city contests?

Some areas near cities remain unincorporated even though postal codes use the name of the nearby city. Some examples of unincorporated areas that fall under this category include CSUMB faculty housing and East Garrison which fall just outside the City of Marina boundaries.  Further, Boronda and parts of Prunedale fall just outside of the boundaries for the City of Salinas. You can always contact MCE to verify your districts.


How do I check my registration status?

You can check your voter registration status, including your name, address, political party, and vote by mail status by visiting My Voter Status or call (831) 796-1499.