California

Upcoming Elections

Voting In California

When You Can Vote

Election Day:

Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. pacific time on Election Day.

If you are in line when the polls close, you will still be able to vote.

Early:

Many counties will offer early voting leading up to Election Day. Early voting locations and hours will be available at the Secretary of State’s website and updated daily: https://caearlyvoting.sos.ca.gov/.

At your convenience:

Because of the COVID-10 pandemic and the surge of the Delta variant, approximately 29 days before the election, every county will be automatically mailing vote-by-mail ballots to all active, registered voters whether or not they requested ballots.

These ballots can be returned by postal mail (postmarked by Election Day, September 14) or dropped off at designated drop boxes, at early voting locations, or at the county registrar’s office.

Where You Can Vote

How to Find Your Polling Place:

A voter can determine their proper polling place by checking the California Elections Division’s website (http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/polling-place/).

Voters in counties offering countywide voting (either Voters Choice Act counties or quasi-VCA counties) are not assigned to a single location and can vote anywhere in the county. Refer to the following list to determine the method of voting offered in a voter’s county (https://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/statewide-elections/2021-recall/county-methods-for-recall.pdf).

A voter can also determine his or her voting location by calling (800) 345-VOTE (8683), or by texting Vote to GOVOTE (468683).

A voter’s voting location will also be printed on the Sample Ballot he or she receives from the local county elections official prior to an election.

How to Return Your Vote-by-Mail Ballot:

A voter can return their vote-by-mail ballot by postal mail, at drop box locations, early voting locations, or at the county board of elections office. To determine the location of drop boxes and early voting places go to https://caearlyvoting.sos.ca.gov/.

Register to Vote

Registration Deadlines:

The registration deadline for California voters for the September 14, 2021 Gubernatorial Recall Election is August 30, 2021 (15 days before Election Day).  Registrations must be completed online or postmarked on or prior to August 30.

If the voter misses the registration deadline, Californians can “conditionally” register to vote between August 31 and September 14 by visiting in-person either any voting location or their county elections office, to register and vote conditionally. Voters who complete this process must vote provisionally and the county will conduct a verification process to determine the voter’s eligibility to vote in the election before the voter’s ballot can be counted.

How to Check Your Registration: Use http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/registration-status/ or call 866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility: To register to vote, you MUST be:

  • A United States citizen;
  • A resident of California;
  • 18 years of age or older on Election Day;
  • Not found by a court to be mentally incompetent;
  • Not currently serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony (However, you must re-register to vote before the registration deadline.)

 

How to Register:

 

Online

Individuals may register to vote online in California.  The Online Voter Registration Form asks for your California driver’s license or California identification card number, the last four digits of your social security number, and your date of birth.  If you do not have a California driver’s license or California identification card, you may still register to vote through the Online Form by completing the form by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on the 15th calendar day before the general election (August 30, 2021).

 

In Person

You may find a voter registration application at any county elections office or DMV office. Voter registration applications are also available at most post offices, government offices and public libraries. If you register at the DMV or other location, retain proof of your voter registration application in case your application is not properly transmitted to the Secretary of State.

 

By Mail

Voter registration forms are also available by mail.  Applicants may call the California Secretary of State’s Office at (800) 345-VOTE to receive a voter registration form. Applicants may also contact their county elections office to receive a voter registration form.  Mail-in applications must be postmarked 15 days prior to the election to be eligible (August 30, 2021 for the Recall Election).

 

By Voter Registration Drive

Some groups conduct voter registration drives.  If you sign up during a voter registration drive, the organizers of the voter registration drive must turn the registration forms into the county elections office by the registration deadline or they must mail or drop them off at the county office within three days, whichever comes first.  If you have filled out a voter registration form at a voter registration drive, be sure to check with your county elections office to ensure that they have received and processed your registration form.  If the registration deadline is close, you should turn in the registration form in person to the county elections office, or you should mail it yourself.

 

If you registered to vote, but election officials do not find your registration on file, you can use a procedure called same-day registration or “conditional voter registration,” and vote by provisional ballot while county elections officials determine your eligibility.

Identification Required for Registration:

The Voter Registration Form asks for your California driver’s license or California identification card number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.  If you do not have a driver’s license, California identification card or Social Security card, you may still register to vote.  You may leave the space requesting this information blank, and an elections official may contact you for more information regarding your eligibility to vote.  You may be required to provide proof of identification or residence the first time that you vote. The California Secretary of State has published a list of acceptable identification, which includes:

  • Driver’s license or identification card of any state
  • Passport
  • Employee identification card
  • Identification card provided by commercial establishment
  • Credit or debit card
  • Military identification card
  • Student identification card
  • Health club identification card
  • Insurance plan identification card
  • Public housing identification card
What will be on the Recall Election Ballot

The current Governor’s political party will not be listed. His opponents’ political parties will be listed. California voters will be asked two questions regarding who should be the Governor on the same ballot:

  1. Should the Governor be recalled from office? Voters will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” to the question of whether to remove the Governor from office. If a majority votes yes, the Governor will be recalled from office.
  2. If the Governor is recalled from office by a majority vote, who should take their place? A list of running candidates will be listed to replace the Governor. The Governor facing recall will not be listed.

Note: You are not required to vote on both questions. You can vote on either one or both questions. If a majority of voters vote to recall the Governor (question 1), the Governor will be removed even if no other running candidate receives more than fifty percent of the vote. The replacement candidate who receives the most votes (question 2) will finish out the current Governor’s term. This means you can still vote “no” on removing an elected official, but also select someone to replace them. That way, you can still vote for who you would choose to replace Governor Newsom should he be removed from office.

Voting Early & by Absentee Ballot

If You Want to Vote Early

Many counties will offer early voting at their county elections office from September 4, 2021 thru Election Day. To find out the locations and dates of early voting, contact your county elections office or visit the Secretary of State’s early voting website.

 

If You Want to Vote-by-Mail

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all active registered California voters will receive a VBM ballot, regardless of whether they request one or not.

If you did not receive your vote-by-mail ballot, or find that you will be unable to go to your voting location on Election Day, you can ask for a replacement ballot by September 7, 2021 by calling or emailing your county registrar’s office or by using the county’s online portal if that is an option. The same process and deadline (September 7) applies if you need to update or voter registration because of a change in address.

If you find yourself without a vote-by-mail ballot 6 days before Election Day, you may also send someone age 16 or up to your county elections office with a written request for an emergency ballot.  AN Emergency Ballot (also known as “Late Vote-by-Mail): All voters will receive a Vote-By-Mail ballot this election. If it is somehow lost or misplaced, you may qualify for an emergency ballot (also known as a “late vote-by-mail” ballot) if there is a qualifying emergency. If you are unable to go to your voting location because you are homebound due to a medical emergency, in a hospital, or in a care facility, you may apply in writing for a “late vote-by-mail” ballot. This application must be provided in person to your county elections office by the voter or someone designated as the voter’s authorized representative. Once completed, the ballot can be deposited at a vote center, drop box, polling place or the Elections Office. This can be done by a person authorized by the voter. However, even though this process is called “late vote-by-mail,” a ballot received this way cannot be returned by mail. Check with your county elections office for your options. You may also use the form provided by the California Secretary of State.

You may also request a Remote Access Vote By Mail (RAVBM) ballot by calling your county elections office or using an online portal if available. The RAVBM system gives a voter an opportunity to download a ballot online, allowing them to read it and mark it using their own assistive technology device. At that point, the voter has to print out their selections and return them to the County Elections Office either in person or by mail. RAVBM is not online voting—rather it’s a secure system to allow voters to read the ballot in a bigger font, change the contrast of the ballot, or use assistive technology to mark selections. For the September 14 Recall Election, all voters, regardless of their disability status, can request an RAVBM ballot by September 7, the deadline for counties to receive requests. Each county has a different process for requesting an RAVBM ballot and you should check your county election websites for more information.

 

Turning in your Absentee (Vote-by-mail) ballot

You may return your vote-by-mail ballot by returning it to any voting location, your county elections office, or any designated drop box by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.  If you mail your vote-by-mail ballot, it must be postmarked by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, and be received at the county elections office no later than 7 days after Election Day. You can track the status of your vote-by-mail ballot at www.wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov.

Identification Requirements

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

Most voters will not need to provide identification or proof of residency when they vote.  Usually, the ONLY time a voter in California is required to show any type of document before voting is if you:

  • Registered by mail or online;
  • Did not provide your driver’s license number, state identification number or last four digits of your social security number on your registration form; and
  • It is your first time voting on a federal election in this county.

In that instance, you may be asked for one of over 30 acceptable forms of identification or proof of residency, such as a driver’s license, utility bill or a check from the government.  If you are voting for the first time and voting by mail, you should include a copy of this identification or proof of residency with your ballot.  This does NOT have to be a photo ID.  If you do not have any of these documents to prove your identity or proof of residency, you can vote by provisional ballot, which will be counted if the signature on your ballot matches the signature on your registration form. Be sure to ask an election official the deadline for providing your identification to the county elections office.

If You Have Moved Within Your State

If you moved and your address on your voter registration file is not up-to-date by September 7, you can re-register to vote with Same Day Registration, also called Conditional Voter Registration. You will vote a provisional ballot if you chose the conditional voter registration route.

If You Are in the Military or are an Overseas Voter

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, military and overseas voters who are active, registered voters in California will automatically receive a vote-by-mail ballot. If the county election board has the voter’s email on file, the voter will receive the ballot by email. If the voter did not receive their vote-by-mail ballot they can call or email their county election board to send them a replacement ballot—the deadline to do this is September 7, 2021.

 

If a military or overseas voter is not active and registered, then they will not automatically be mailed a ballot. They must request it by completing a voter registration application for a special absentee ballot by August 30—the deadline to register to vote. Military and overseas citizens can register to vote by fax or mail, or can register to vote online using the California Secretary of State’s webpage. Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) California-specific FPCA page for details on using the FPCA. On the California form, the voter can indicate how they wish to receive their ballot—either by email, or fax, or mail. Military and overseas citizens can also use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), also known as Standard Form 76, to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Miltary and Overseas voters can also use the Remote Accessible Vote-by-Mail system to download a ballot, fill it out on their computer, print the completed ballot and mail it to their county elections office. https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/remote-accessible-vote-mail

 

 

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

 

Military and overseas citizens can receive voting materials by fax, email, or postal service.  If you wish to use the fax or email options, you must indicate this on your FPCAInstructions for doing so are found on the FVAP’s California-specific FPCA page.

 

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

 

Military-Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting: Absent uniformed service members (and their eligible dependents) and U.S. citizens living outside of the United States may request an absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).  The voter can get step-by-step assistance and forms at http://www.fvap.gov/.

If You Have a Felony Conviction

If you have a felony conviction you can vote, unless you are currently imprisoned in state or federal prison, currently imprisoned in county jail, or other correctional facility serving a state felony prison violation sentence.  Your rights will be automatically restored, but you must re-register to vote before the registration deadline.

For details, see the Secretary of State’s webpage, Voting Rights for Californians with Criminal Convictions or Detained in Jail or Prison.

Signature Verification Process for Vote-By-Mail Ballots

In the event that a vote-by-mail ballot is rejected because of an issue with the voter’s signature, the county elections official must provide notice to the voter. The county election official is required to mail a notice to the voter if the signature did not compare or was missing. The voter will have the opportunity to verify their signature no later than 5:00 p.m. two days prior to the certification of the election by completing a signature verification statement and returning it to the county elections official. Voters can also track whether their ballot was accepted or not and why on BallotTrax at https://california.ballottrax.net/voter/.

Accessible Voting

Voting In-Person:

Accessible Voting Machines: Every polling place and vote center must have an accessible ballot marking device. These machines have features such as: a touchscreen tablet, with options to change text size and contrast; a handheld controller with braille; headphones and audio ballot and instructions in several languages; a privacy screen for voters with low vision to ensure their votes are kept private as they use the audio ballot and instructions; and capability with a voter’s own paddle, or sip and puff assistive device.

Assistance marking your ballot: You can have up to two people help you mark your ballot. They cannot be your employer, your labor union leader, or anyone who works for either.

Curbside Voting: In most counties, you can park close to the voting area and elections officials will bring you a roster, ballot, and any other materials you may need in order for you to vote at the curb or in your car. Please visit your individual county elections official’s website for more information.

Voting at Home:

Vote By Mail: All eligible voters will be mailed a Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballot.

RAVBM: Voters with certain disabilities, for example vision and dexterity disabilities, may not be able to read or mark their ballot privately and independently. Every California county has a Remote Accessible Vote-by-Mail (RAVBM) system. RAVBM systems allow voters with disabilities to receive, mark, and print their ballots at home before mailing them back to election officials. Voters can use their assistive devices to read and mark their ballot. For the Recall Election, all voters regardless of disability status will be able to use the RAVBM system. Voters can request a RAVBM ballot by using My Voter Status or seeing county-specific information on your individual county elections official’s website.

Late Vote-by-Mail (also known as emergency ballot): All voters will receive a Vote-By-Mail Ballot this election. However, if it is somehow lost or misplaced, you may qualify for a late vote-by-mail ballot if there is a qualifying emergency. If you are unable to go to the polls because you are homebound due to a medical emergency, in a hospital, or other care facility, you may apply in writing for a late vote-by-mail ballot. This application must be provided in person to your county elections office by the voter or someone designated as the voter’s authorized representative. Once completed, the ballot can be deposited at a vote center, drop box, polling place or the Elections Office. This can be done by a person authorized by the voter. However, the ballot cannot be mailed.

If you have questions specific to accessible voting, contact Disability Rights California’s hotline by calling 1-888-569-7955 or refer the voter to the hotline.

Language Access

Immigrant communities throughout California have had access to fully bilingual elections. At least two weeks before Election Day, your county elections website will have a list of all voting locations that will have translated sample ballots.

 

Vote-by-mail voters may be able to request that a translated sample ballot be sent to them, for free. This may not be available in all neighborhoods in the county – voters should call their county elections offices and ask if translated sample ballots are available. If so, the voter can have the office mail or email a copy at no cost. The voter must make the request at least 7 days before Election Day. Call Asian Americans Advancing Justice at 1-888-API-VOTE or 1-888-274-8683 for language-specific assistance.

 

For in-person voting, voters requiring language assistance can bring up to two people to their voting locations to help them vote, as long as those individuals are not the voter’s employer or from a labor union. Voting locations should also have signage indicating to the voter the languages spoken by polling place staff and the languages in which translated sample ballots are available.

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