California

Upcoming Elections

Oct. 19, 2020 – Voter Registration Deadline – Online or by Mail

For more information the Secretary of State website.

Oct. 20, 2020 – Conditional Registration

On or after October 20, 2020, voters can “conditionally” register and vote at any voting location in their county or their county elections office after the 15-day voter registration deadline.

For more information visit the Secretary of State website.

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.

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.

Where You Can Vote

How to Find Your Polling Place

A voter can determine his or her proper polling place by checking the California Elections Division’s website.  

Voters in counties offering countywide voting are not assigned to a single polling place and can vote anywhere in the county. These counties include Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Tuolumne counties. 

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

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

Register to Vote

Registration Deadlines: 

The registration deadline for California voters in the general election is October 19, 2020.  Registrations must be completed online or postmarked on or prior to October 19, 2020.  If the registration deadline is missed, Californians can “conditionally” register to vote for the general election by visiting either any voting location or their county elections office, to register and vote conditionally. Voters who complete this process will be verified by the county and then have their ballots processed once verified.  

How to Check Your Registration: Use the Secretary of State website 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 imprisoned or on parole for a felony conviction. (If you have a felony conviction, your right to vote is automatically restored once you have completed parole.  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 (October 19, 2020).

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 (October 19, 2020 for the General 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.  If you are not entered into the voter rolls, you have the option to file a lawsuit in superior court to compel election officials to register you.  

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
Voting Early & by Absentee Ballot

If You Want to Vote Early

Many counties will offer early voting at their county elections office between October 5, 2020 and November 2, 2020. Many counties will also offer early voting beginning the weekend before Election Day. You may contact your county elections office or visit the Secretary of State’s early voting website

If You Want to Vote Absentee

This year, 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 become ill or disabled after the deadline, or find that you will be unable to go to your polling place on Election Day, you may request a vote-by-mail ballot in person at your county elections office. You may also send someone age 16 or up to your county elections office with a written request.  That person may pick up your ballot and return it to the elections office, if that person signs an affidavit stating, among other things, that he or she has your authority to pick up your ballot for you. Check with your county elections office for your options.

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 dropbox 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 17 days after Election Day. You are able to track the status of your vote-by-mail ballot.

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, you can re-register to vote with Same Day Registration, also called Conditional Voter Registration.

If You Are in the Military or are an Overseas Voter

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), also known as Standard Form 76, to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  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. 

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 from the Overseas Voter Assistance Program.

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 or parole violation sentence, or currently on parole.  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.

Election Protection Materials

Questions about voting in California?

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