WASHINGTON — California voters have until Feb. 22 to apply for an absentee ballot for the special election to fill the Congressional seat of the late Rep. Robert Matsui.

Matsui, 63, died of a rare bone marrow cancer in January. He served his Sacramento-area district for 26 years, and was lauded by his colleagues in Washington at memorial services last month.

The special election will take place March 8. Twelve candidates, including Matsui’s widow, Doris, are on the ballot.

Information on eligibility to vote in the election and obtaining an absentee ballot can be found through the Federal Voting Assistance Program Web site,, or through the California Secretary of State’s office,

Along with submitting an absentee ballot in the mail, California voters may fax a copy of their ballot into state elections officials under certain circumstances, including waiving the right to a secret ballot.

If one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the March special election, that person will assume the Congressional seat. But if no one receives more than 50 percent, the top Republican and Democrat vote-getters will square off in a general election May 3.

Voters will have until April 26 to apply for absentee ballots for that second special election.

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