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California Voting Quick Facts

Who Can Register to vote in California

To register to vote in the State of California, an individual must meet the following qualifications:

  • 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,and
  • Not currently imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony

Learn more about Who Can Register To Vote in California?

How Do I Register To Vote in California

Safe At Home members

If you are enrolled in California's confidential address program, Safe At Home, please do not apply to register to vote using the online option. Contact the Safe At Home program toll-free at (877) 322-5227 or by the Safe At Home email.

Click here to for more information.

Voting At The Polls On Election Day

WHAT IS AN ACCEPTABLE FORM OF IDENTIFICATION FOR VOTING

In most cases, a California voter is not required to show identification to a polling place worker before casting a ballot.

  • However, if you are voting for the first time after registering to vote by mail and did not provide your driver license number, California identification number or the last four digits of your social security number on your registration form, you may be asked to show a form of identification when you go to the polls. In this case, be sure to bring identification with you to your polling place or include a copy of it with your vote-by-mail ballot. A copy of a recent utility bill, the sample ballot booklet you received from your county elections office or another document sent to you by a government agency are examples of acceptable forms of identification. Other acceptable forms of identification include your passport, driver license, official state identification card, or student identification card showing your name and photograph.

Learn more about Voting at the Polls on Election Day

Who Can Vote in Primary Elections in California

Both Democrats and Republicans hold Top Two Primaries

What is a voter-nominated office?

The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, which took effect January 1, 2011, created "voter-nominated" offices. The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act does not apply to candidates running for U.S. President, county central committees, or local offices.

Most of the offices that were previously known as "partisan" are now known as "voter-nominated" offices. Voter-nominated offices are state constitutional offices, state legislative offices, and U.S. congressional offices. The only "partisan offices" now are the offices of U.S. President and county central committee.

How are presidential primary elections conducted in California?

Qualified political parties in California may hold presidential primaries in one of two ways:

  • Closed presidential primary - only voters indicating a preference for a party may vote for that party's presidential nominee.
  • Modified-closed presidential primary - the party also allows voters who did not state a party preference to vote for that party's presidential nominee.

If a qualified political party chooses to hold a modified-closed presidential primary, the party must notify the California Secretary of State no later than the 135th day before Election Day.

Click here for additional information

Who Can Vote Absentee in California

Voting By Mail

  • Any registered voter may vote using a vote-by-mail ballot instead of going to the polls on Election Day.
  • All valid vote-by-mail ballots are counted in every election in California, regardless of the outcome or closeness of any race. For additional information on how and when ballots are verified and tabulated, please visit our description of how the official canvass of the vote is completed.
  • Once your application is processed by your county elections official, your ballot will be sent to you. After you have voted, insert your ballot in the envelope provided, making sure you complete all required information on the envelope. You may return your voted vote-by-mail ballot by 1) mailing it to your county elections official; 2) returning it in person to a polling place or the elections office in your county on Election Day; or 3) authorizing a relative or person living in the same household as you to return the ballot on your behalf. Vote-by-mail ballots that are personally delivered must be delivered no later than the close of polls at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Vote-by-mail ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 3 days after Election Day. If you are not sure your vote-by-mail ballot will arrive in time if mailed, bring it to any polling place in your county between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
  • When your vote-by-mail ballot is received by your county elections official, your signature on the return envelope will be compared to the signature on your voter registration card to ensure they match. To preserve the secrecy of your ballot, the ballot will then be separated from the envelope, and then it will be tallied.

Voting for the First Time

  • When you registered to vote, you were asked to fill in your driver license number, California identification number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you did not include this information, be sure to send a photocopy of some personal identification in the envelope with your vote-by-mail ballot.
  • A copy of a recent utility bill, the sample ballot booklet you received from your county elections office, or another document sent to you by a government agency are examples of acceptable forms of identification. Other examples include your passport, driver license, official California identification card, or student identification card.
  • For more information on identification to use when you vote for the first time check the complete list (PDF) or call the Secretary of State's toll-free voter hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683).

Learn more about Absentee Voting

What If My Address Has Changed

Voting Options for College Students

  • As a Californian living away from home while attending a college, trade school or technical school, you may choose to register to vote using your home away from home address you use while at school or your traditional home address.
  • Choosing which address to use when you register to vote is a personal decision. Whatever you decide, you may not register to vote in two places during the same election cycle.

What should I do if I have just moved

  • Your voter registration record should always reflect your current residence. However, if you have moved from your home into a temporary residence (not your permanent residence), you can continue to use your prior permanent residence where you were registered to vote as your address for the purpose of voting.

Learn more about Movers and college students Voting

Have A Question?

One of MyTime2Vote's top priorities is providing our citizens access to all of the latest State and Federal election information.

We're currently updating the following pages

  • State Ballots for this year election cycle
  • State Voting Guide
  • Elections Calendar
  • States Summary

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When Is The Next Election?

Upcoming Elections Calendar - Election dates and deadlines - Check California upcoming elections schedule

Poll Hours: 7:00 AM-8:00 PM

The polls shall be open at 7 a.m. of the day of any election, and shall be kept open until 8 p.m. of the same day, when the polls shall be closed, except as provided in Section 14401.
Voting shall commence as soon as the polls are opened and shall be continued during the time the polls remain open.

How can I find my polling location?

If you do not know where your polling place is,you can use www.sos.ca.gov to Find your ballot information, polling location, early voting, ID requirements and more... If you have any issues or questions, please contact your County Clerk

Can I Register At The Polls On Election Day?

CALIFORNIA : Yes

California's same-day registration will take effect on January 1 of the year following the year in which the Secretary of State certifies that the state has a statewide voter registration database complies with the requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002

Can I Take Time Off For Voting? Yes

(a) If a voter does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote at a statewide election, the voter may, without loss of pay, take off enough working time that, when added to the voting time available outside of working hours, will enable the voter to vote.

(b) No more than two hours of the time taken off for voting shall be without loss of pay. The time off for voting shall be only at the beginning or end of the regular working shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the regular working shift, unless otherwise mutually agreed.

(c) If the employee on the third working day prior to the day of election, knows or has reason to believe that time off will be necessary to be able to vote on election day, the employee shall give the employer at least two working days' notice that time off for voting is desired, in accordance with this section.

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