EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — So you’ve completed your mail-in ballot and sealed and signed the back of the envelope.

You don’t need a stamp, so the next step is just popping it in the mail, right? Well, yes — as long as it’s postmarked on or before Election Day. But did you know there are other ways you can make sure your vote arrives safely on time?

5 Things to Know:

  1. You can drop off your ballot by hand at your County Elections Office, where they have a ballot drop box ready to go. Alternatively, you can also drop it off at any polling place. For either option, just make sure you do it no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day. And make sure they are OFFICIAL ballot drop boxes — find yours by visiting voterstatus.sos.ca.gov.
  2. You can even authorize someone you know — and, most importantly, TRUST — to return your ballot for you (just make sure they’re not being paid to do so), and you’ll need to sign the authorization section on the outside of the envelope. If they don’t return your ballot for you, they could be in a whole heap of trouble and even face prosecution, so it’s in THEIR interest to make sure they drop it off.
  3. If you’re voting for the first time, make sure you’ve registered and have sent all the appropriate copies of documents required. People have fought for your chance to do this, so get organized and thank them back by exercising your right to vote!
  4. The good news is you can find out if, where, and how you’re registered to vote and the status of your vote — if you sent it — by going to voterstatus.sos.ca.gov.
  5. If you want to track your ballot in even greater detail, then use the new service wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov. It’ll let you know where your ballot is in the system, when it’s been delivered, if there’s a problem, and whether it’s been accepted via updates to your email, text, or voice message on your phone.

So there you have it. You don’t just have to rely on the mail to mail in your vote. Think about what works best for you. After all, the future of the free world is in your hands. Oh, is that all?