Voter Registration in California
By voting in California, you're able to make your voice heard in state, federal, and local elections. Below you'll learn the steps to register to participate in the voting process.
California Voter Registration Eligibility
In order to be eligible to vote in the state of California, you must be:
- A citizen of the United States.
- A California resident.
- 18 years old or older on Election Day.
- Not currently in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.
- Some citizens serving certain legal sentences can vote, and those with felony convictions who've had their civil rights restored can vote (voting rights are automatically restored once parole is completed). Refer to the state's section on voting rights with criminal convictions for details specific to your situation.
- Not found to be mentally incompetent by a court.
Register to Vote in California
If you're looking to register to vote in California, and you meet the requirements mentioned above, you'll need to complete a voter application and submit it either online or by mail. You can also register to vote when visiting a Department of Motor Vehicles office to obtain a California driver's license or register your vehicle.
The deadline to register is by 11:59:59 p.m. on the 15th day before the Election Day in question. If you fail to meet that deadline, your information will still be processed, but you'll need to wait to vote in the next upcoming election.
NOTE: Once your information has been submitted for registration, it still needs to be approved by your local election official. This official will contact you once your CA voter registration has been approved, or if they need more information from you.
If you would like to register online, you can submit an application by using the California Online Voter Registration website.
You'll be asked to answer a series of questions and enter your personal information, including:
- Your CA driver's license or ID number.
- Your Social Security number.
- Your birth date.
The system will check with the California DMV to ensure that your signature is on file. If it is, it will be added to your registration and you may submit it at the end of the process.
If your signature is NOT on file, your information will be sent to your local county elections board. Print the information you filled out online, sign the application, and mail it to the address specified on the form. An official will contact you once they've received all of your information.
Register by Mail
If you prefer to register to vote by mail, you can:
- Print the National Mail Voter Registration Form online.
- Pick a registration form up at your local DMV office or county elections office.
- Request one by calling the voter hotline at (800) 345-8683.
You can also pick up a voter registration application at post offices, public libraries, and other government offices.
When you complete your application, mail it to the address provided on the application. You will need to provide your California driver's license or identification card number or the last 4 digits of your social security number. If you do not have any of these numbers leave the field blank and the election officials will assign you a voter identification number.
Military, Overseas, & Out of State Voter Registration
CA Military and Overseas Residents
If you're an active-duty military member (or dependent) or a citizen currently overseas, you can register to vote and apply for an absentee ballot using the Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Request Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) (Form 76). Once you complete the form, mail it to your local county elections board.
Alternatively, you can call (800) 345-8683 and request one be mailed or faxed to you (which is helpful if you don't have access to the Internet).
Out-of-state California residents can register to vote using any of the above methods. Once registered, you may apply for a Vote-by-Mail ballot in order to vote absentee during your time out of state.
If you are a college student living away from home during your studies, you can register to vote at:
- The address you use while away at school.
- Your traditional home address.
You CANNOT vote using both addresses.
See Register to Vote in California above for details on voter registration processes.
Deadline to Register to Vote in California
If you plan to vote in California, you must register a minimum of 15 days prior to the upcoming election. Your application must be time-stamped by midnight on the day of your registration deadline.
Voter Registration Name or Address Change
The address on your voter registration record should be your current place of residence. If you have temporarily moved, you can continue to use your permanent address for the purposes of voting.
If you've permanently changed your address, or you've legally changed your name, you'll need to re-register to vote. Simply follow one of the methods described above in Register to Vote in California.
The SOS also suggests that you update your information with the DMV to reflect your new legal name.
NOTE: If you are re-registering online and you have not yet updated the DMV with your new name, make sure to decline your DMV signature on your application by checking the box marked “decline." If you fail to do this, your application will be rejected since your signature no longer matches your legal name.
Replacing a Lost CA Voter Registration Card
If you have misplaced your voter registration card, or you have not received it, you may request a duplicate by calling (800) 345-8683.