Elections officials tell voters to watch for November and March elections materials

California elections offices began accepting vote by mail ballots Monday, a full month before the November 5th election. Some counties also opened early voting centers where people can go to register and cast their ballots in person. Election officials say voters should receive election guides and vote-by-mail ballots by the end of this week.

At San Francisco City Hall signs were posted announcing the start of early voting. 

Meagan Levitan, a San Francisco voter and Girl Scout leader says she brought a group of scouts to see the process firsthand. 

"I never miss an election. In fact, that's why we're here as Girl Scouts to learn about citizenship at city hall," said Levitan.

Rows of voting booths are ready, along with San Francisco elections staff who said about fifty people cast their votes early in the basement of City Hall. 

"My daughter three days ago told me giant packets showed up in the mail that had to do with voter stuff, and so I'm assuming that's what it was," said Nicholas Cho, a San Francisco voter who says he plans to drop off his ballot at an elections site. 

Elections officials say as they're working on the November elections, they're already looking ahead to prepare for the March primary, and they say voters should prepare too.

"We're actually getting ready to send out the message to people to say hey, check your party affiliation. Make sure it's what you think it is and what you want it to be. And here are the steps to take to change your party affiliation," said John Arntz, the San Francisco Director of Elections.

Arntz says party affiliation does not matter in this November election, but will make a big difference in whether you get a ballot for the 2020 presidential primaries.

The state's last report in February 2019 showed 8.6 million voters (43%) registered as Democratic, 4.7 million (24%) registered Republican, and 5.6 million (28%) registered as NPP No Party Preference. 

Those who are no party preference will not receive a presidential primary ballot, unless they take extra steps. 

"If someone wants to vote on a certain ballot, they have to be registered for that party unless that party allows non-partisan voters to do what's called crossover," said Arntz. 

In 2016, Republicans restricted their primary to registered Republicans, while Democrats allowed no party preference voters to take part in the Democratic primary.

The political parties have an October 24, 2019 deadline to decide whether to allow voters outside their party to cast a ballot in the March 3, 2020 primary.

No Party Preference (NPP) Voters will then need to request a ballot or register with a party in order to vote in a presidential primary ballot. 

Also, voters need to realize registration deadlines will be earlier than before.

"I think if you don't pay attention to that then you might not be aware because for the last several years June has been our primary," said Levitan.

"I didn't know the primary had moved. I usually wait for the ballots to show up," said Cho.

Arntz said people can also check the San Francisco elections website or the California elections website to look up their voter registration status. 

The voter registration deadline for the November 5th election is October 21, 2019.

The voter registration deadline for the March 3rd presidential primary is February 17, 2020.

California Voter registration status lookup