Who can register to vote?
In order to register to vote, a person must:
- Be a citizen of the United States;
- Be a resident of California;
- Be at least 18 years of age as of the day of the next election;
- Not be in prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony;and
- Not be deemed by an appropriate court to be mentally incompetent.
For more information on the rights of people who are incarcerated, please see the Secretary of State Voting Guide for Inmates
How do I register to vote?
To register to vote you must obtain and complete a voter registration form. Voter registration forms can be obtained by:
What is the deadline to register to vote?
- Downloading a voter registration form and mailing it to your county elections official; or
- Calling your county elections official and requesting a form; or
- Calling the Secretary of State toll-free voter registration hotline at (800) 345-VOTE and requesting a form.
The deadline to register to vote is 15 days prior to each local and statewide Election Day. To be eligible to vote in the November 3, 2009 Elections, you must register to vote by October 19, 2009. To be eligible to vote in the June 8, 2010, Statewide Primary Election, you must register to vote by May 24, 2010.
I have just moved. Am I required to re-register?
Your voter registration should always reflect your current residence. However, if you have moved from your home into a temporary residence that you do not intend to use as your permanent residence, you can continue to use your prior permanent residence where you were previously registered to vote as your address for the purpose of voting.
I did not vote in the last election. Do I need to re-register?
In general, you are registered to vote for as long as you remain at the same address. However, if you have not voted in the last several elections, you may be sent a request to confirm that you have not moved.
Do I have to be registered to vote in order to register other voters?
No, you do not need to be a registered voter in order to register other people to vote.
I registered at the Department of Motor Vehicles, but my county elections office says I'm not registered. What can I do?
Contact your county elections official
and provide them with any documentation you may have to help establish when and where you registered. In many cases your county elections official may be able to verify the potential registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
I sent in my voter registration form a month ago and I still don't know where to vote. Did you receive my registration card?
To inquire about your voter registration status, you must call your county elections official
. Each county designates the polling place for each voter and mails a sample ballot to each voter telling them where to vote on Election Day.
Where do I send my voter registration form after I fill it out?
If you have downloaded a voter registration form
from the Secretary of State's webpage, it will be pre-addressed to go to your county elections official for quicker processing. Statewide forms are sent to the Secretary of State's office, which in turn must forward them to the appropriate county elections official
How many voter registration affidavits can I get if I want to register people in my community?
There is no limit to the number of voter registration affidavits a person may obtain. However, depending on the number of cards the Secretary of State or a county elections official has on hand and the volume of requests they are receiving, the Secretary of State and county elections officials may ask a requestor to take fewer cards than they asked for and to return later should they need additional cards. The Secretary of State does require the requester to complete a Voter Registration Card Statement of Distribution
form and a county elections official may require a person who requests cards from their office to do something similar.
How can I cancel my California voter registration?
To cancel your voter registration, you must contact your county elections office
How can I vote a vote-by-mail ballot?
Any registered voter may vote by a "vote-by-mail" ballot by:
When may I apply for a vote-by-mail ballot?
- Applying in writing to your county elections official; or
- Completing the vote-by-mail ballot application that is included in your sample ballot, which your county elections official will mail to you prior to each election; or
- Downloading and completing a Vote-By-Mail Ballot Application from our website.
You must apply for a vote-by-mail ballot at least 7 days before an election.
When is the last day to return my voted vote-by-mail ballot?
Vote-by-mail ballots must be received by the elections official no later than the close of polls at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
How do I turn in my vote-by-mail ballot on Election Day?
You may return it in person to any polling place in your county or to the county elections office on Election Day. If, because of illness or physical disability, you are unable to return the ballot yourself, you may designate a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or a person residing in the same household to return the ballot to the elections official or the precinct board at any polling place within the jurisdiction. The ballot must be received by the elections official or the precinct board before the close of the polls at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.
Can anyone distribute vote-by-mail ballot applications?
People and organizations may distribute vote-by-mail ballot applications, provided they use the uniform format specified in the California Elections Code and submit a Vote-By-Mail Voting Application
Where is my polling place?
Your polling place location will be printed on the sample ballot you receive from your county elections official
prior to an election. You may also contact your local county elections office for polling place information.
What hours are polling place locations open?
All polling place locations are open on Election Day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Why am I in a mail ballot (vote-by-mail) precinct?
Elections Code section 3005 provides that people who live in precincts with fewer than 250 voters may be sent vote-by-mail ballots.
Upon receiving a vote-by-mail ballot, all you need to do is vote for the contests on the ballot, provide the required information, and mail the voted ballot back to your county elections office. It must be received in your county elections office by the close of the polls at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
If you cannot mail your voted vote-by-mail ballot to your county elections office, you can cast your voted ballot at any polling place in your county by the close of the polls at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. To determine the location of a nearby polling place, you can contact your county elections official.
Is there a toll-free telephone number I can call regarding voter information?
Yes. The Secretary of State has established a toll-free hotline for requests for voter registration forms and other election materials and to report suspicions of voting or registration irregularities. The number is (800) 345-VOTE.
Are election returns for state offices on your website?
The election results from past statewide elections can be found at The Secretary of State at Election Results
What can be done to increase voter participation?
The Secretary of State's office has been working with a wide range of groups throughout the state to increase voter participation. They are always looking for better ways to reach out and engage citizens in the voting process. Their Voter Education and Outreach
web page will provide you with information on some of the programs and events they are currently working on.