Voter Registration: California

General Date: Nov. 7, 2023


Registration Deadline: Your registration must be postmarked or submitted electronically or hand delivered no later than 15 days before the election in which you wish to vote.


Same Day (Conditional) Voter Registration: Conditional Voter Registration is a new safety net for Californians who miss the deadline to register to vote or update their voter registration information for an election. While you may not be able to vote at your regular polling place or vote by mail, there is still an opportunity to cast a ballot by completing the conditional voter registration process.


Eligible citizens who miss the deadline can go to their county elections office or a designated satellite location to register and vote conditionally. Their ballots will be processed once the county elections office has completed the voter registration verification process. Voters can complete the conditional voter registration process 14 days before an election all the way through to that Election Day.


Contact your local county elections official for more information.


Party Affiliation: All candidates for voter-nominated offices are listed on one ballot and only the top two vote-getters in the primary election – regardless of party preference - move on to the general election. A write-in candidate will only move on to the general election if the candidate is one of the top two vote-getters in the primary election.


The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act does not apply to candidates running for U.S. President, county central committee, or local office.

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

-Closed presidential primary- the party only allows voters indicating a preference for that party to vote for its presidential nominee.
-Modified-closed presidential primary- in addition to allowing voters indicating a preference for that party to vote for its presidential nominee, the party also allows voters who did not indicate a party preference to vote for its presidential nominee.


In order to change your political party preference, you must re-register to vote.  You can re-register to vote by completing a voter registration application online at You can also pick up a paper application at your county elections office, any Department of Motor Vehicles field office, and many post offices, public libraries, and government offices.  To have an application mailed to you, call your county elections office or the Secretary of State’s toll-free Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683).


If you change your name: If you have legally changed your name, you will need to re-register to vote. It is recommended that you first update your driver license or identification card before updating your voter record. 


If you are re-registering online and have not updated your DMV record first, select “decline” on the application when asked to use your DMV signature to register. If you do not decline use of your DMV signature, your application will be rejected. After you select “decline” continue filling in your information, print, sign, and mail the paper application to your county elections office. 



Age: Must be 18 years of age or older on Election Day

16 or 17 year olds that meet all other voting requirements may pre-register to vote and be automatically registered to vote once they turn 18

Citizenship: Must be a United States citizen

Residency: Must be a resident of California

Mental Competency: Not currently found by a court to be mentally incompetent.

Felony Convictions: Not currently imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony (for more information on the rights of people who have been incarcerated, please see the Secretary of State's Voting Rights for Californians with Criminal Convictions or Detained in Jail or Prison)


Online: Fill out the online application. To register online you will need your California driver 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 license or California identification card, you can still use this form to apply to register to vote by completing the online interview by 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Time on the 15th calendar day before an election.


In person: If you would like to register using a paper voter registration application, you can pick one up at your county elections office, library, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, or U.S. post office. It is important that your voter registration application be filled out completely and be postmarked or hand-delivered to your county elections office at least 15 days before the election.


Phone/Email: To request a paper voter registration application be mailed to you, please call (800) 345-VOTE(8683) or email Elections Division staff.



You can qualify as a "military or overseas voter" if you are absent from the county in which you are eligible to vote and you are; 


-A member of the active or reserve components of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard; a Merchant Marine; a member of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps; a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps of the United States; or a member on activated status of the National Guard or state militia

-A spouse or dependent of a person described above; or

-A U.S. citizen living outside of the territorial limits of the U.S. or D.C.


Even if you are or were registered to vote in your county, in order to receive your election materials and vote when you are absent from your county while serving and/or living overseas, you need to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot by completing the online voter registration application or by completing the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) (PDF).


When you complete your online voter registration application or your FPCA, you can choose to receive your ballot and the accompanying Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope mailed, faxed, or emailed to you. You may even be able to download them from your county elections official's website.



Return your voted ballot and signed Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope to your county elections official. Mail or fax (under certain circumstances) your voted ballot and signed return envelope following the Secretary of State's online instructions under "Mailing Addresses and Fax Numbers for Military or Overseas Voters".

If mailing: Your voted ballot and signed return envelope must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 3 days after Election Day.

If faxing: If you are living outside the territorial limits of the United States or are called for military service within the United States on or after the final date to make application for a vote-by-mail ballot, you may return your ballot by fax, but it must be received by your county elections office by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. If you decide to fax your voted ballot and signed Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope, you must also fax an "Oath of Voter" form to waive your right to a confidential vote. This oath is in addition to the voter's declaration that is on the Military or Overseas Voter Return Envelope. Please use the oath form your county provides to you; however, many counties also accept the "Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Alternative Form (PDF)". Please check with your county before using FVAP's Alternative Form.

Check the Status of Your Voter Registration


County elections officials will mail vote-by-mail ballots to all active registered voters. All voters may vote-by-mail instead of going to the polls on Election Day. If you failed to receive your vote-by-mail ballot or if it was lost or destroyed, you may apply in writing for a replacement. The application can be found here. If you are unable to vote in person at the polls and do not have a vote-by-mail ballot, you may apply in writing for a late vote-by-mail ballot. This application must be provided in person to your county elections official. 



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 7 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.



All polling place locations are open on Election Day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. If you live in a county that is conducting elections under the California Voter's Choice Act, please visit that web page for more information.


In most cases, California voters are not required to show identification at their polling place. However, it is a good idea to bring identification with you when you vote for the first time. A poll worker may ask to see your identification if you mailed your voter registration application and did not include your driver license number, California identification number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

For more information on identification to use when you vote for the first time check the complete list or call the Secretary of State's toll-free voter hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683).


Tracking your ballot: California Elections Code 3017(c) requires county elections officials to establish procedures for tracking vote-by-mail ballots. You can track the status of your ballot by visiting “My Voter Status”. The Secretary of State has also started offering “Where’s My Ballot,” which is a tool that lets voters know where their ballot is at every step of the process. Using this tool, powered by Ballotrax, voters can receive updates by text, email, or voice message from county election officials. You can sign up here to receive updates. 


Provisional Voting: If your name is not on a voter list at your polling location, you have a right to fill out a provisional ballot. This is a regular ballot that is placed in a special envelope to be put in a ballot box. You can cast a provisional ballot if you:


-Believe you are registered to vote despite not being on the voter list at the polls

-If you received a vote-by-mail ballot but want to vote at a polling center

-If you did not receive a vote-by-mail ballot or do not have your ballot with you.


Your ballot will be counted after elections officials have confirmed your voter registration and confirm that you have not already voted in the election. 



Deciding how to vote:

Polling Place: California Polling Place finder

Problems with voting: If you believe that you are a victim of election fraud or have witnessed a criminal violation of the California Elections Code, you may use the Election Voter Complaint Form to report the violation to California Secretary of State

Investigative Services. California Election Voter Complaint Form English and Spanish

Verifying provisional ballot status: California Provisional Ballot Checkup

Assistance in Other Languages: click here for a voter registration form in a language other than English or Spanish.

California’s Voter Information Guide: Click here