By Devin Fehely

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — If you haven’t registered to vote yet, Monday is the deadline for online applications for the November General Elections.

Voters who miss Monday’s deadline will still have the option of utilizing ‘Same Day’ voter registration, but will have to do so in person at their county elections office or at any in-person voting location.

“Registering to vote online or updating your registration online is the safest option during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you must do it by midnight tonight,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a news release. “By registering to vote online today, you can avoid having to show up in person to participate in ‘Same Day Registration.’”

Who can vote?

You are eligible to vote if you are:

  • a U.S. citizen living in California
  • at least 18 years old
  • registered where you currently live
  • not currently in state or federal prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony
  • not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court

California Secretary of State: Register To Vote | Election Information

Early Voting and Ballot Drop-Off Locations

Bay Area Counties –  Election, Mail-in & Absentee Ballot Information

With just over two weeks until Election Day, the Secretary of State’s office said elections officials have received nearly 10 times as many vote-by-mail ballots so far compared to this point in 2016.

As of Monday morning, the Secretary of State’s office announced that 3,742,775 ballots had been returned, a huge jump from the middle of last week when officials reported 1.5 million mail-in ballots were returned. At this point in the campaign four years ago, 407,393 vote-by-mail ballots were returned.

“Californians are voting early in historic numbers,” Padilla said last week. “We knew the COVID-19 pandemic would pose significant challenges, but elections officials have prepared and voters have responded.”

Due to the pandemic, election officials across the state sent mail-in-ballots to all active, registered voters earlier this month.

While the return rate of vote-by-mail ballots is high, election officials across the Bay Area are also seeing a surge of voters who are casting their ballots in person.

“Usually in the past we had four or five people on the first few days,” Evelyn Mendez with the Santa Clara Registrar of Voters Office told KPIX 5 during the first week of early voting. “We’ve had over 300 people that have already voted in-person.”

Registrar of Voters’ offices across the Bay Area saw a steady stream of people trying to beat the Oct. 19 deadline to register for the upcoming election.

“I think I’ve matured a little politically,” says Angel Carvajal who registered and voted for the very first time at the voting center in San Jose. Carvajal says the issues in the upcoming election were too important for him to sit on the sidelines. “I tuned in more to the debates that were happening. And I think just being more aware of the type of political issues occurring in the country, I wanted to make sure that my voice was counted.”

Record numbers of people are taking advantage of mail-in and early voting across California. In Santa Clara County, the registrar’s office has registered more than a million voters. And a spokesperson says nearly 200,000 voters have already returned their ballots.

“People are coming in here to check the signature we have on file. People are checking that we have the right address — that all of our information is correct. So, voters are planning it all out. And if they’re here, they’re ready to vote,” says Evelyn Mendez, a spokesperson for the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

Some voters waited in a long, lunch-hour line at the registrar’s office and say it was important to be there in person and early.

“I wanted to make sure that my vote was counted. And I wanted to do it in person because I’d heard all the horror stories about the post office. So, I wanted to physically drop it off myself,” says Peggy Nixon-Hodge.

Ballots postmarked by election day, November 3, will be counted even if they arrive later. But many voters say there’s a lot of advantages of filling out your ballot early like William Smith did with his 18-year-old son over the weekend.

“We wanted to impress upon him the fact that it was important to go through each of the initiatives in detail. And think them through, think about the decisions,” says Smith.