USPS: Mail your ballot 1 week before Election Day at the latest

Your Local Election HQ

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — It’s one week until Election Day, but millions of people have already returned their ballots.

If you haven’t yet — the United States Postal Service recommends getting your completed ballot in the mailbox by Tuesday, Oct. 27 at the latest.

“Our general recommendation is that, as a common-sense measure, you mail your completed ballot before Election Day, and at least one week prior to your state’s deadline,” The USPS specifies.

You should always check to make sure you understand your state’s requirements and recommendations on mailing your completed ballot.


In California, the Office of the Secretary of State says vote-by-mail ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day on Nov. 3 and received by your county elections office no later than 17 days after Election Day.  

Don’t get confused — elections officials will only count ballots received by Nov. 20 if they were already postmarked by Election Day.

What does that mean?

According to the USPS, a postmark indicates the location and date the Postal Service accepted custody of your mail.

Just because you drop your ballot in your mailbox on Election Day, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be postmarked the same day. That’s why it’s important to know the collection time wherever you’re dropping off your ballot.

Be sure to check collection times posted on collection boxes and at Post Office® locations and retail facilities. Also be mindful of when mail is delivered and picked up at your residential mailbox. Ballots deposited after the collection time won’t be picked up, or postmarked, until the following business day. Voters should also be aware of mail collection times and practices if ballots are deposited in an office or residential mailroom.


Now, if leaving your ballot in a mailbox makes you uneasy but you still don’t want to wait in polling lines on Election Day, there are other early voting options available in California.

You can:

  • Fill out and sign your ballot and hand deliver it to your polling place of local county elections official
    • Vote-by-mail ballots that are personally delivered must be delivered no later than the close of polls at 8 p.m. on Election Day.
  • Drop your ballot into an official ballot drop box in your county
  • Authorize someone to return your ballot on your behalf (fill out the authorization section outside your ballot envelope)

To find a Bay Area ballot drop box near you, check out our interactive map here.

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