Last update: Sep 20, 2023 07:25 a.m. EDT
Last update: Sep 19, 2023 11:04 a.m. UTC
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These guides are researched, written, and updated by Democracy Works, a non-partisan 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization, to inform voters via TurboVote and other partners. The information in these guides originates from official state sources and is reviewed by state election offices. The guides also link to authoritative state and local resources to provide additional information.
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California offers online voter registration. You can register by mail to vote in California by printing a voter registration form, filling it out, and mailing it to your local election office. You can also register to vote in person if you prefer.
Who can register to vote?
To register in California you must:
- be a United States citizen
- be a resident of California
- be at least 18 years old or older on Election Day
- not be currently serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony
- not be currently found to be mentally incompetent to vote by a court
Can I register to vote online?
- California offers online voter registration.
- You should know: you will need a California-issued driver license or California identification card number, the last four digits of your Social Security number, and consent to the use of your DMV-stored digital signature to use California’s online voter registration system. If you don’t have a California-issued ID or don’t want to provide consent for the use of your digital signature, you can still register by mail to vote.
Can I submit voter registration forms by mail?
Use the National Voter Registration Form
- Print and fill out the National Voter Registration Form.
- Box 6 - ID Number: When you register to vote, you must provide your California driver's license or California identification card number, if you have one. If you do not have a driver's license or ID card, you must provide the last four digits of your Social Security number (SSN). If you do not include this information, you will be required to provide identification when you vote if it is your first time voting in a federal election.
- Box 7 - Choice of Party: California does NOT require that you register with a party to participate in partisan primary elections. However some parties do not allow unaffiliated voters to participate in their party’s presidential, local, or county committee primary elections.
- Box 8 - Race or Ethnic Group: Leave blank. This information is not required.
- Review the "Who can register to vote?" section above and check that you're eligible.
- Sign the form.
- Send the completed form to your local election office
- If you are registering to vote for the first time in your jurisdiction and are mailing this registration application, Federal law requires you to show proof of identification the first time you vote. Proof of identification includes:
- A current and valid photo identification or
- A current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or government document that shows your name and address.
- More information here.
Can I register to vote on Election Day?
California does offer in person registration on Election Day.
Can I submit voter registration forms in person?
- You can also register to vote in person. Contact your local election office for information on when and where to register to vote. Conditional voter registration is a safety net for Californians who miss the deadline to register to vote or update their voter registration information. Voters can use the conditional voter registration process from the day after the deadline all the way through Election Day. Eligible citizens can go to their county election office, polling place, or vote center to register and vote conditionally. These ballots will be processed once the county elections office has completed the voter registration verification process.
- You can also register to vote and cast a ballot in person on Election Day.
- Learn more by visiting the California Secretary of State's website or contacting your local election office.
How do I get help registering to vote?
If you’d like more help planning how to register, TurboVote can walk you through the process! They can also help you start the absentee/mail-in ballot request process, send you election reminders, and more.
How do I vote if I'm in the military or live overseas?
Active-duty military, their families, and overseas citizens can register to vote and request their absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). The FPCA process is done by mail, but your state may offer other options to request and return ballots. Please contact your local election office for more information about delivery and return methods, including email, fax, and state online portals. To follow the FPCA process:
- Fill out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), or download a copy. Your local election office may have questions, so please provide an email address or phone number where they can reach you.
- Send the application to your local election office.
- It is never too early to submit an FPCA! Please do so as soon as possible.
- Please fill out and send back your ballot as soon as you receive it.
- States begin mailing absentee ballots at least 45 days before Election Day. If you haven't received your ballot by 30 days before Election Day, contact your local election office.
If after submitting your FPCA, your ballot does not arrive, contact your local election office first. Then:
- You can still vote using the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Print, sign, and mail your FWAB to your local election office.
- If you mail a FWAB and then receive your regular absentee ballot, you should complete and mail your absentee ballot also. Election officials will ensure that only one ballot is counted.
How can I check my voter registration status?
You can look up your voter registration record and verify that your information is correct using California's voter registration lookup tool.
Which election office should I contact?
- In California, your local election office runs the elections in your area. They can help you with questions about registering to vote, voting by mail, and local elections.
- The Secretary of State oversees elections and election administration in California. They can help you with questions about voting in your state, election security, or issues you might have at the polls. If you have concerns about voter intimidation, reach out immediately.
How do I contact my local election office?
Visit your state’s site to find your local election office.