How to register and vote in the 2022 Berkeley election

Credit: Amir Aziz

On November 8, Berkeley residents will elect City Council, rent board and school board members, as well as decide between three ballot measures, as they vote in county, state and national races. Berkeleyside is covering local races in depth and you can follow our reports here.

This guide is to help Berkeley residents understand the November 8 general election and learn how to get involved. We will update it based on your questions and suggestions.

What is the general election about?

The general election is the last chance for voters to have a say in who should be elected to public office. Some of the candidates, primarily those running for partisan state and national offices like governor or senator, along with candidates for county offices like district attorney, were nominated months ago during primary elections. Other candidates, mostly those running for local nonpartisan offices like City Council and school board, are appearing on the ballot for the first time.

This is the first general election in which voters will elect representatives based on the newer district maps that were created through the recent state and local redistricting processes. So when Berkeleyans vote for City Council this fall, we’ll use the new city map.

The Berkeley Independent Redistricting Commission selected this map for new City Council districts in March. It keeps the district borders that Berkeley has had since 2014 largely intact, with a few adjustments meant to smooth out the sometimes awkward border lines of the current map. Credit: City of Berkeley

Don’t know which Berkeley district you live in? Enter your address into this tool on the city’s website.

How do I participate in the elections? (First, register to vote.)

To vote you have to register. If you’re already registered, you probably won’t have to do it again, unless you’ve recently moved. But you may want to check your registration status just in case.

To register, you must be 18 years of age or older, a California resident, and not currently serving a prison sentence for a felony. And in order to vote in Berkeley elections for council members and school board directors, you must be a Berkeley resident.

The easiest way to register is on the Secretary of State’s website. You will need a driver’s license or state identification card, date of birth, and social security number. You can also register in person at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office in the basement of the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, 1225 Fallon Street, Room G1, in downtown Oakland.

The deadline to register is always 15 days before an election. For this upcoming election, that day is October 24, 2022. If you miss that deadline, you can also register the same day you vote by going to a vote center in person.

Of course, voting is not the only way to participate. If you are under 18, a noncitizen, or otherwise unable to vote, you can still participate in the election by volunteering to support a candidate or ballot measure campaign, making a financial contribution to someone’s campaign, and making inform yourself and others about the issues and the candidates.

How does voting work?

A voter drops off a ballot at a polling place in June. Credit: Amir Aziz

If you are registered to vote, you should receive a voter information pamphlet beginning September 29. This brochure includes basic information about the election and what is on the ballot.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters will mail ballots to all registered voters beginning October 10, 2022, the first day of voting. Once you receive your ballot, you can vote by filling it out and doing one of the following:

  • Mail it to the registrar using your prepaid postage. To count, it must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than 17 days after Election Day.
  • Give your mail-in ballot to poll workers at a vote center
  • Drop it off in a secure ballot drop box on or before November 8. Here is a map of all the mailboxes in Alameda County. Boxes in Berkeley are located at:
    • Berkeley Civic Center2180 Milvia St.
    • UC Berkeley, between Sather Gate and the Architects and Engineers Building
    • Frances Albrier Community Center2800 Park St.
    • Claremont Library Branch2940 Benvenue Ave.
    • North Branch Library1170 Alameda
    • West Branch Library1125 University Avenue.

Ballot drop boxes will be located in Berkeley and Alameda County. Credit: Alameda County

If you did not receive your ballot in the mail, you can request one in person at the Recorder’s office at 1225 Fallon Street in Oakland until November 1, 2022.

If you prefer to vote in person, you can go to a vote center. Alameda County is one of 24 Voters’ Choice Act counties in the state. These counties have made voting much easier by sending everyone a ballot and setting up in-person vote centers, the first of which opens 11 days before Election Day this year.

There will be 20 vote center locations in Alameda County open all 11 days. One of them will be located in Berkeley, at 1011 University Ave, and six will be in Oakland. And many more across the county will open four days before the election, including eight polling places in Berkeley.

According to Brittany Stonesifer, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, the point of opening polling places so many days before November 8 is to encourage voting; Extending the time people can vote will make crowds and long lines at polling places less likely.

And to make voting even more convenient, no matter what city you live in, you can vote at any of the 100 vote centers anywhere in Alameda County. So Berkeley residents who work in Fremont can choose to vote at a center there if it’s easier for them.

Where is my ticket?

If the October 10 date comes and goes and you’re still waiting to get your ballot in the mail from the registrar, you can track it using this website.

You can use the same website to track your ballot once you’ve mailed or delivered it. You will receive notifications when your ballot has been safely received by the registrar and when it has been counted.

What are my rights as a voter?

If you are in line waiting to vote at 8:00 pm on November 8 when the polls close, the staff operating the vote center must still allow you to vote, no matter how long it takes. Stay in line and wait your turn so your voice can be heard. If a voting machine breaks, you are entitled to a paper ballot. And if you make a mistake or your ballot is damaged, you have the right to request a new one.

If you or someone you know experiences a problem at the polls, if someone tries to intimidate or dissuade you from voting, for example, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights has a hotline you can call immediately at 1-866-OUR -VOTE. They will answer your questions and help you assert your rights.

If a polling place does not comply with the ADA, Disability Rights California operates a hotline to file complaints and help fix accessibility issues. If you already know that a location to be used as a polling place needs attention, it is available at 1-800-776-5746.

If you encounter issues with language access, such as not being able to print a ballot in the language of your choice, or if there is a staffing or technical issue causing confusion, you can also call state and local voting rights advocates like Asian -Americans Advancing Justice: Asian Law Caucus and Bay Rising.

Last but not least, what’s on the ballot?

Nonpartisan local offices on this year’s general election ballot for Berkeley voters will include:

You can find all of our coverage of these races at Berkeleyside. And if you want to see the candidates in person, in a live forum, or in a Zoom debate, check out our list of upcoming events.

Other local nonpartisan races include the following special district and county positions that represent parts of Berkeley or overlap with city systems and agencies (think AC Transit buses). We will cover some of these careers, but our main focus is on the city of Berkeley. There is a full list of candidates for these positions and more on the registrar’s website.

  • district attorney
  • AC transit in general
  • EBMUD District 4

And then there are propositions and measures. Propositions are decisions that voters make directly on whether or not to amend the state constitution or change any of its statutory laws. Measures are local versions of proposals, used to change a city’s charter or increase or renew taxes.

Measures of the City of Berkeley

  • Measure L, a $650 million affordable housing and infrastructure bond
  • Measure M, a tax on vacant homes
  • Measure N, which authorizes the state, federal, or local government to build up to 3,000 units of low-income housing in Berkeley. The California state constitution requires voter authorization to build low-income housing; the measure does not approve or allocate funds for any specific project.

Alameda County Measures

  • Measure D – Changes to the 2000 “Save Agriculture and Open Space Lands” initiative

California State Proposals

When you receive your ballot, you will also see lists of candidates running for the following voter-nominated state constitutional offices. We are not covering these careers, but we encourage you to check out CalMatters, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Times, and other newspapers to follow these important careers. They’ll also have information about federal elections that we don’t mention here, like who’s running for Congress and president.

  • Governor
  • lieutenant governor
  • Attorney General
  • Controller
  • Secretary of state
  • Treasurer
  • insurance commissioner
  • Member of the State Board of Equalization
  • state senator
  • state assemblyman

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