Cal Poly Election Guide

The 2020 election may be the most consequential election of our lives. This election is happening not only during a global health pandemic but also amidst an economic recession and a social movement that is bringing together people to counter anti-Black racism. Cal Poly is positioned as an institution of higher learning that can support and ensure students are informed, prepared, and motivated for action and civic engagement. Encouraging students to engage in the democratic process is a non-partisan activity that can have huge impacts on creating a more equitable, just, and inclusive world.

On November 3rd, the country will vote for not only the presidency but a host of statewide offices and propositions. To ensure every member of the Cal Poly community is well informed and able to engage in this important civic duty, the following are some resources.

This site is updated daily. Please check back for additional updates.

Voting and Election Day

Find my Polling Place- Including On-Campus 

Check your poll location using the California State Secretary Poll Location tool. 


Cal Poly On-Campus Poll Site


Register to Vote

Register Online Through Ballot Bowl

Cal Poly is participating in California Students Vote Project (CSVP) Ballot Bowl initiative to increase civic engagement and voter participation among California university and college students. The campus with the highest percentage of registered voters wins a trophy. Let's win this Cal Poly! Check out Ballot Bowl registration tracking.

To register online you will need your CA driver’s license or CA ID card number, the last 4 digits of your Social Security number and your birthday to register online.

Follow these steps to register to vote online:

  • Go to
  • Check the option the applies to you, then click ‘Next’.
  • Input the rest of your information into the California State Voter Registration Form.
  • Select California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo) for University or College affiliation.
  • Carefully, review your information, then submit your form.
  • You’ll receive an email confirmation of your application.

Update Your Voter Registration Status If...

  • Your name has changed.
  • If you have changed addresses since March 3, 2020.
  • Your political party affiliation has changed.

Register By Mail

Register In Person

  • Get the Voter Registration Form at the San Luis Obispo Elections Office , any DMV Office, and many post offices, public libraries, and government offices.
  • Fill out the form.
  • Return the form to the San Diego County Elections Office by October 19.
  • Military Federal Voting Assistance Program

  • The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) works to ensure Service members, their eligible family members and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so - from anywhere in the world."

Complaints of voter fraud may be reported to via the Secretary of State's Voting Information Hotline at 1-800-345-VOTE, or by filling out the Fraud Complaints Form and submitting to the address listed at the end of the form.

Vote by Mail


[Video provided by the Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP)]


Benefits to Mail-in-Ballot

  • SIMPLE. A mail-in ballot, instructions and “I Voted” sticker will be mailed to all registered voters starting Oct. 5.
  • SAFER. Make voting decisions and mark your ballot comfortably at home.
  • SECURE. Seal your completed ballot in your postage paid envelope.
    • Be sure to sign it, date it and return it by mail promptly so it is received well before Election Day. Your signature is required for your ballot to count! Sign your name like it appears on your driver’s license or ID card.
    • You can return your mail-in-ballot at these locations in San Luis Obispo County.
  • CELEBRATE. Join the campus Election task force for National Vote Early Day, on Saturday, October 24. 
  • TRACKING. Sign-up for text notifications for “Where’s My Ballot?” Sign up now to receive notifications. 
    • If you haven’t received your Mail-in-Ballot by October 19, call the Registrar of Voters at (805) 781-5228.

In Person Voting    

If you must vote in-person, be aware that you may face long lines and must follow CDC guidelines for in-person gatherings.

  • Make sure you go to your assigned polling place. You can find your assigned polling place on the back of your sample ballot and voter information pamphlet or you can look it up online.
  • Be prepared. Mark your selections on your sample ballot and voter information pamphlet in advance so you can quickly fill in the official ballot in the voting booth.
  • Wear a mask and practice 6-feet of social distancing. Adhere to CDC Guidelines. 

Learn more about voting safely in San Luis Obispo County at the Registrar of Voter's site.


8 Things That Are New This Election

California has implemented a host of measures so citizens can securely cast their ballots. These measures don’t only make voting safer, they make it easier and more convenient, too.

Here is what’s new this year:

1. Everyone has the option to vote by mail  

Starting October 5, California voters will receive a mail-in ballot at the address where they’re registered. Simply fill it out, sign it, date it and drop it in the mail (no postage required). You may also return it at an official ballot drop box or polling location — or opt not to use it and cast your vote in person at the polls.

2. You can track your ballot  

Find out when your mail-in ballot has been received by elections officials and — best of all — when it’s been counted with California’s new ballot tracker. The tool also enables election officials to follow up and correct any issues that might prevent a ballot from being counted.

3. Rules have changed to account for mail delays  

Mail-in ballots have to be postmarked by Nov. 3, Election Day — but will have up to 17 days to arrive at elections offices. That doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute. You can return your ballot as soon as it gets to you — which could be as soon as the first week of October (you may already have it!)

4. You can — and should — vote early  

To eliminate long lines at the polls, many California precincts are allowing voters to cast their ballots in person as early as Saturday, Oct. 31, four days before Election Day — and even earlier in some places. (Check the rules for your precinct.) Those voting by mail should try to complete their ballot as quickly as possible.

5. You can register on Election Day  

It takes just five minutes to register, and you can do so online through October 19. But for those who miss the deadline, election officials have added a backup option. Eligible voters can go to their local polling place on Election Day, fill out a same-day voter registration form and cast a provisional ballot. Your vote will still be counted once officials have confirmed your eligibility to vote.

6. There will be new protocols at the polls  

Masks will be required at the polls, as will a social distance of six feet or more both in line and at polling stations. That may make lines especially long, so consider bringing reading material and packing a lunch — or choosing another option, such as mail-in voting. Double-check your polling location before you head out, in case of last minute changes.

7. There will be vote centers throughout San Luis Obispo County  

California has created upgraded polling places, known as vote centers, which offer an expanded array of services. These centers, which can be used by voters registered anywhere in the county, are open for voting from as early as 11 days before the election. They also provide streamlined services for last-minute registration or changes to a voter’s address. Check if there is one near you.

8. We probably won’t know the winner on election night  

We get it: Everyone’s eager to learn the results. But with so many people voting by mail, together with predicted high turnout and a shortage of poll workers, a final tally may be slow in coming. And a fair election may hinge on our ability to wait. “Results change,” Hasen cautioned. “If it’s close, people are going to need to have patience and to follow official sources of information.” .


More Resources

Self-Care for Managing Election Stress  

Prioritizing self-care is an important step in our daily lives, especially in times of distress. In the wake of heightened emotions and concerning incidents throughout the country and on our campus, here are a few tips for self-care to get you to through the next upcoming days.


  • UNPLUG. Limit your consumption of media, particularly of the 24-hour news cycle of social media variety. Stay informed, of course, but instead of constantly scrolling your newsfeed, try one of these other options.


  • BE PRESENT. It is important to be aware of and acknowledge our thoughts and feelings. Pay attention with non-judgmental curiosity, and give yourself permission to feel the way you do. Although distraction can be useful, unaddressed intense emotion can also have negative impacts.


  • FIND A HEALTHY ESCAPE. Do something engaging or energizing to manage your feelings rather than turn to potentially harmful or hurtful coping mechanisms (i.e. excess substance use) Get outside. Practice mindfulness. Exercise. Journal. Meditate. Read something light. Make art. Watch a funny movie. Laughter is often a good antidote for stress and anxiety.


  • CONNECT. Engage with supportive friends and allies. Talk about it if you need to, but also communicate your boundaries when needed. Not everyone will share your perspective. Give yourself permission to walk away from a conversation that is feeling uncomfortable, heated or too stressful. Reach out to a mental health professional such as those at Counseling Services or another trusted individual.


  • REPLENISH. Get back to self-care, and focus on restoring yourself. Get enough rest. Eat well. Drink plenty of water and fluids. Move daily… walking, stretching, breathing are great ways to replenish.


  • DO SOMETHING. Channel what you are feeling into something that is meaningful and purposeful to you. Get informed and be proactive around issues that matter to you. Find ways to engage with your community through volunteering and advocacy.


It’s easy to feel alone or isolated during these times, but remember there are resources throughout campus with the sole purpose of helping you find your way. Below are links to a few resources and pages that may be helpful during these turbulent times or for any other problems you may be facing.

Office of the Dean of Students – Student Support, Success, and Retention

Student Diversity and Belonging (SDAB)

Office of University Diversity and Inclusion (OUDI)

Counseling Services


[Adapted from University of Northern Colorado]


Campus Election Events

National Election Events

Event Date Information

Why Your Vote Matters with Senator Cory Booker

Register here

Tuesday, October 20 1:30-2:45 PM (PST)

U.S. Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker will share his perspective on the role our students can play in creating a just and sustainable society through civic and community engagement in the final stretch before the November elections and beyond. California State University, Long Beach alum and Legislative Manager for the California League of Conservation Voters Melissa Romero will educate students about 2020 ballot initiatives that will have an impact on the environment and our communities.

So What Did You Think of the Debate? Presidential Debate Debrief

Register here

Friday, October 23 10:00-11:00 AM (PST)

Join faculty, staff, and students from across the country for a national discussion to debrief and discuss the first Presidential Debate. Designed to reach across differences and create a space for discourse, this national facilitated dialogue is based on the fundamental value of the pursuit of knowledge for the public good. 

Putting Voters First: Democratic Reforms

Register here

Wednesday, October 28 11:00AM-12:00PM (PST) Join us for a conversation with Colorado’s Election Director Judd Choate. He will explain the innovative voter-as-customer model that Colorado has developed, which serves as an exemplar nationwide, and will also provide a view of the national election model landscape. He will discuss challenges that voters may face, how to understand early voting statistics, and the tabulation of votes on and after Election Day. There will be time for Q&A.
National Vote Early Day Saturday, October 24

Avoid the election day long lines. Cast your ballot before November 3!

Once you receive your ballot, follow the instructions and fill it out. Be sure to sign up to track your Mail-in Ballot before you drop it in the mail. Mail your ballot at least 7 days before election day.

So What Did You Think of the Election? Debrief Election 2020

Register here

Wednesday, November 11 10:00-11:00AM (PST)

Join faculty, staff, and students from across the country for a national discussion to debrief and discuss the 2020 Elections. Designed to reach across differences and create a space for discourse, this national facilitated dialogue is based on the fundamental value of the pursuit of knowledge for the public good.



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