Credit: Amir Aziz

On Nov. 8, Oakland residents will choose the next mayor, City Council and school board members for districts 2, 4, and 6, plus decide among a slew of ballot measures, while also voting on county, state, and national races. The Oaklandside is covering the local races in-depth and you can follow our reporting here

This guide is to help Oakland residents understand the Nov. 8 general election and learn how to take part. We’ll update it based on your questions and suggestions.

What’s the general election all about?

How do I take part in the election? First, register to vote

How does voting work?

Where’s my ballot?

What are my rights as a voter?

What’s on the ballot?

What’s the general election all about?

The general election is the final chance for voters to have a say in who should be elected to public office. Some of the candidates—mainly 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 the primary election. Other candidates—mostly those running for nonpartisan local 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 pick representatives based on the newest district maps that were created through the recent redistricting processes at the state and local levels. So when Oaklanders vote for City Council, mayor, and more this fall, we’ll be using the city’s new map.

Don’t know what Oakland district you live in? Plug your address into this map to find out.

How do I take part in the election? First, register to vote

In order to vote, you have to register. If you are already registered, you probably don’t have to do it again, unless you recently moved. But you might want to check the status of your registration just in case.

To register, you have to be 18 or older, a resident of California, and not currently serving a prison sentence for a felony. And in order to vote in Oakland’s elections for things like councilmembers and school board directors, you have to be an Oakland resident.

The easiest way to register is on the Secretary of State’s website. You’ll need a driver’s license or state ID card, birth date, 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 on the same day you vote if you go to an in-person voting center.

Of course, voting isn’t the only way to take part. If you’re under 18, not a citizen, or can’t vote for some other reason, you can still partake in the election by volunteering to support a candidate or ballot measure campaign, by making a financial contribution to someone’s campaign, and by informing yourself and others about the issues and candidates.

How does voting work?

A voter drops off a ballot at an Oakland voting center in June. Credit: Amir Aziz

If you are registered to vote, you should receive a voter information pamphlet on or after Sept. 29. This booklet includes basic information about the election and what’s on the ballot.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters will mail ballots to every registered voter starting Oct. 10, 2022, the first day of voting. Once you get your ballot, you can vote by filling it out and doing one of the following:

  • Mail it back to the registrar using its pre-paid postage. To count, it must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than 17 days after Election Day
  • Deposit it in a secure ballot dropbox on or before Nov. 8. Here’s a map of all the dropboxes in Alameda County
  • Hand your mail-in ballot over to poll workers at a voting center

If you did not receive your mail-in ballot, you could request one in person at the registrar’s office at 1225 Fallon Street in Oakland until Nov. 1, 2022.

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

There will be 20 voting center locations in Alameda county open all 11 days. Six of those will be located in Oakland. And many more across the county will open up four days prior to the election, including about 20 polling locations in Oakland.

According to Brittany Stonesifer, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, the point of opening voting centers so many days before Nov. 8 is to encourage voting; spreading out the time that 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 voting centers anywhere in Alameda County. So Oakland residents who work in Fremont can choose to vote at a center there if that’s easier.

Where’s my ballot?

If the Oct. 10 date comes and goes and you’re still waiting to receive 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 it or dropped it off. You’ll receive notifications when the registrar has safely received your ballot and when it has been counted.

What are my rights as a voter?

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

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

If a voting location is not ADA-compliant, Disability Rights California operates a hotline to field complaints and help fix accessibility problems. If you know that a location that will be used as a polling place needs attention today, they’re already available at 1-800-776-5746.

If you find issues with language access, such as not being able to print out a ballot in the language of your choice, or if there is a technical or personnel issue that leads to confusion, you can also call local and statewide voting rights advocates like Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and Bay Rising.

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

The local, nonpartisan offices on this year’s general election ballot for Oakland voters will include:

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

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

  • County Supervisor District 3
  • District Attorney
  • AC Transit At-large
  • BART Board District 4
  • EBMUD Ward 6

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

City of Oakland Measures

  • Measure Q – Article 34 affordable housing authorization 
  • Measure R – Gender-neutral language including pronouns 
  • Measure S – Non-citizen voting 
  • Measure T – Progressive business tax III 
  • Measure U – New infrastructure bond measure 
  • Measure V – Just Cause ordinance amendment 
  • Measure W – Campaign reform
  • Measure X – Government reform charter amendments
  • Measure Y – Oakland Zoo 

County of Alameda Measures

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

Oakland Unified School District Measures

  • Measure H – Renew a $120 parcel tax that funds programs that “reduce dropout rates, prepare Oakland students for college and 21st-century careers, attract and retain highly qualified teachers, and provide mentoring, tutoring, and counseling.”

California State Propositions

When you get your ballot, you’re also going to see lists of candidates running for the following state constitutional voter-nominated offices. We’re not covering these races, but we recommend you check out CalMatters, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Times, and other newspapers to follow these important races. They’ll also have information about federal elections we didn’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 Assemblymember

Jose Fermoso covers road safety, transportation, and public health for The Oaklandside. His previous work covering tech and culture has appeared in publications including The Guardian, The New York Times, and One Zero. Jose was born and raised in Oakland and is the host and creator of the El Progreso podcast, a new show featuring in-depth narrative stories and interviews about and from the perspective of the Latinx community.

Before joining The Oaklandside as News Editor, Darwin BondGraham was a freelance investigative reporter covering police and prosecutorial misconduct. He has reported on gun violence for The Guardian and was a staff writer for the East Bay Express. He holds a doctorate in sociology from UC Santa Barbara and was the co-recipient of the George Polk Award for local reporting in 2017. He is also the co-author of The Riders Come Out at Night, a book examining the Oakland Police Department's history of corruption and reform.