VIDEO: Mail-in ballot deadlines explained

Confusion continues over rules that vary by state


Election night will be an unusual experience this year. Early results that pop up shortly after the polls close might look very different from the final outcome, because of unprecedented levels of mail-in ballots and early voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. CNN graphic

Devon Doane, Multimedia Journalist, Newscene

As voters mail in ballots in record numbers, there is a lot of confusion among California voters about when their ballots should be turned in.

With a lot of national media coverage focusing on the different rules from state to state, it can be easy to confuse one state’s rules from the other.

Making sense of the confusion was part of this week’s edition of Newscene, the student-produced weekly newscast that this week won a National Pacemaker
Award for excellence in college journalism

Pennsylvania and North Carolina, for example, will allow ballots to be counted several days after Nov. 3 as long as they are properly postmarked.

States like Wisconsin have hard deadlines for Election Day for when ballots will be counted there.

These reports are making national headlines, but with confusing language on our own ballots, it is important to note what California’s rules are.

In California, mail-in ballots will be counted up to 17 days after Nov. 3 as long as they are clearly postmarked on or before Election Day.

For this election, it’s 17 days,” Cynthia Paes, Assistant Registrar of Voters, said to City Times Editor-in-Chief Vicky Pineda. “So as long as it’s postmarked on or before Election Day, and received by November 20th, then it’s timely cast and can be counted.”  

Of course, ballots can also be dropped in person at 126 designated official ballot drop boxes through 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

In-person voting also begins tomorrow through Tuesday at polling places around San Diego County. For more information on in-person voting, visit

In other news:

Contactless candy: San Diego County is sponsoring free contactless trick-or-treat stations at 27 local recreation centers for this Halloween in light of the pandemic.

These candy stops will be open on Halloween at different times for each location.

Early record voting: Early voting numbers continue to break records across the nation.

Close to 80 million Americans have cast their votes, as of this week.  

Between the ages of 18 and 29, more than 6 million young voters have made their decision. The youth vote is surging comparing it to the 2016 presidential election.  

Plant-based vaccine: The Canadian government reached an agreement with biotech firm Medicago to develop a plant-based COVID-19 vaccine. 

This plan includes up to 76 million doses of the vaccine for Canadian citizens.

Phase 2 and 3 trials are expected to begin in November and December, respectively, and the vaccine could be available to the public as soon as the first half of 2021.

Gifted cookies: With only a few days left until Election Day, Brooklyn residents were waiting in the rain to vote early on Thursday, October 29.

To raise spirits, actor Paul Rudd stood outside passing out cookies to the Brooklyn voters in line. 

Dodgers take the win: The Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series this year, a feat not achieved in over 30 years. 

However, third baseman Justin Turner tested positive for COVID-19 late in the series finale.

Despite the diagnosis, Turner celebrated the victory with his team, resulting in an investigation by Major League Baseball. 

Newscene multimedia journalists Benjamin Guadarrama, Jesus Lopez, Noelle Mortensen, Kyle Ovenshire and Zach Wilson contributed to this report.