California Elections

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Your State

Upcoming Elections

2016 Presidential Preference Primary: Tuesday, June 7

  • Voter Registration Deadline: May 23

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

  • Voter Registration Deadline: October 24

For more information visit the California Secretary of State website.

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.


More state specific election info below.

Voting Rights

News

Texas' Voter ID Case Could Change How Voting Works Across the Country
05/25/16 |
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 13:00
Excerpt: 

Here are a few reasons why Texas' voting rights case deserves your attention:

1. Studies show that enough Americans lack government-issued photo IDs to swing statewide and national elections.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, 21 million Americans lacked a government-issued photo ID in 2006, even though they were eligible and registered to vote. More than 600,000 voters in Texas lacked a government ID.

Proponents of ballot box access laws have cited the need to protect against voter fraud, but national voting rights advocates have said the laws are a solution in search of a problem.

2. Texas law recognizes gun licenses as proof of identity for the purposes of voting, but not student IDs.

Texas’ voter ID law would require residents to show one of seven forms of approved identification — which includes military IDs and concealed carry handgun licenses.

The state's law is among the strictest in the nation because it does not recognize university IDs given to college students. 

3. The surge in voter-ID laws began after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 banned states from passing laws that imposed cumbersome and discriminatory barriers to voting on black and other minority voters. The law required states with a history of racial disenfranchisement to seek federal preclearance before instituting any changes to voting rules and redistricting plans.

Nearly 50 years later, a crop of restrictive voting laws has crept up in Republican-led legislatures across the country. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby County v. Holder that the federal preclearance of voting law changes was no longer needed in a nation that had presumably progressed on racial relations. That's when states such as Missouri, Kansas, Georgia and Ohio began adoptingsweeping changes to voting laws, including voter ID and reducing the number of early voting days.

If Texas' law is allowed to move forward, it could again embolden states to seek new changes that disenfranchise voters, advocates have said.

Federal court questions whether Texas voter ID law can offer accommodations
05/24/16 |
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 12:45
Excerpt: 

On Tuesday, the judges of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals questioned whether accommodations could be made to protect minority voters and still save Texas' strictest-in-the-nation voter ID law in time for the presidential contest in November. The judges questions indicated that there was little support for striking down the law or blocking its use, but several questioned why Texas did not have more fallback provisions — as other states do — for voters who lacked the kinds of identification that the state requires.

Three other courts have said the Texas law discriminates against African American, Hispanic and poor voters, who are less likely to have the specific identification documents the law requires.Despite those decisions, the appeals court has so far left the law in place.

With a presidential election coming up, the court is under pressure from the Supreme Court to decide by July whether Texas’s approach is a responsible way to combat potential voter fraud or an impermissible Republican effort to discourage minority turnout.

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Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

California Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 Presidential Preference Primary: Tuesday, June 7

  • Voter Registration Deadline: May 23

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

  • Voter Registration Deadline: October 24

For more information visit the California Secretary of State website.

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.

7:00am to 8:00pm

Early voting is available in some counties. Please check with your county election official for dates, times, and locations.

You can search for your polling place onlineYour polling place location should also be printed on the Sample Ballot received from the local county elections official prior to an election.  

REGISTER TO VOTE HERE

Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.


Registration Deadlines

Voters must register at least *15 days before any election.  You can also register online.

*There are some exceptions to this 15 day deadline.  You may still be eligible to vote if you become a U.S. citizen after the registration deadline (15 days before any election.)  To register, bring proof of U.S. citizenship and a signed form stating that you are eligible to vote in California to your county elections office.

If you move to California after the registration deadline (15 days before any election), you may still be eligible to vote in California for President and Vice President only.  To register, you must sign an oath stating that you are eligible to vote in California and that you have not voted in any other states for the same election at least seven days before Election Day

How to check if you are registered

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE

You may also contact your county election official or search your county’s database. 

Eligibility Requirements to Register

To register to vote, you MUST 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;
  • Not in prison or in county jail (serving a state prison sentence or serving a term of more than one year in jail for a defined "low-level" felony); 
  • Not on parole, post-release community supervision, or post-sentencing probation for a felony conviction (also known as “mandatory supervision”); and
  • Not barred from voting by a felony conviction.  (If you have a felony conviction you can vote if: you are on probation, or you have completed your post-release community supervision, or you have completed your mandatory supervision, or you have completed your parole.  Once an individual has completed a felony sentence, including any parole or post-release supervision, he/she must re-register to vote before the registration deadline.)

Types of identification you will be asked for when you register

The Voter Registration Form asks for your California driver license or California identification card number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.  If you do not have a driver license, Social Security Card, or California identification card, you may still register to vote.  You may leave the space blank, and an elections official will provide you with an identification number.

How to register

Online

Individuals may register to vote online in California.  The Online Voter Registration Form asks for 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 may still register to vote through the Online Form by completing the online interview by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on the 15th calendar day before an election.

In-Person

You may find a voter registration application at any DMV office.  Voter registration applications are also available at most post offices, government offices and public libraries.

By mail

Voter registration forms are also available by mail.  Applicants may call the (800) 345-VOTE to receive a voter registration form.  Applicants may also contact their county elections office to receive a voter registration form.  Mail-in applications must be postmarked by the deadline (15 days prior to any specific election) to be eligible. 

If You Want to Vote Early

Early voting is determined by county. You may check online to see if and when early voting is available in your county. 

If You Want to Vote Absentee

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot (known as “vote-by-mail”). If you apply by mail, your application to receive an absentee ballot must be received by your county no later than 7 days before Election Day. To apply for your vote-by-mail ballot you can do one of the following:

  • Apply in writing to your county election official no later than 7 days before Election Day.
  • Complete the vote-by-mail ballot application.  Elections officials process this application which should be included with your sample ballot, which your county elections official will mail to you prior to each election.
  • Your County Elections Office's website may have an option to request a vote-by-mail ballot online.

If you become ill or disabled after the deadline, or find that you will be unable to go to your polling place on Election Day, you may request that a vote-by-mail ballot be delivered to you by submitting such a request by application or letter (signed under penalties of perjury) to your county elections official.

You may also request to vote-by-mail in person at your county election office any time before the election.

Turning in your Absentee (Vote-by-mail) ballot

Vote by mail ballots must be received by the elections official no later than the close of polls (8:00 pm) on Election Day.  You may return your absentee ballot by returning it in person or by mail to your county election official or in person to any polling place in your county or by end of polls closing on Election Day.

 

Types of identification you will be asked for when you register

The Voter Registration Form asks for your California driver license or California identification card number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.  If you do not have a driver license, Social Security Card, or California identification card, you may still register to vote.  You may leave the space blank, and an elections official will provide you with an identification number.

Identification requirements when you vote in an election 

Most voters will not need to provide identification or proof of residency when they vote.  The ONLY time a voter in California is required to show any type of document before voting is if you:

  • Registered by mail;
  • Did not provide your driver’s license number, state identification number or last four digits of you social security number on your registration form;  and
  • It is your first time voting on a federal election in this county.

In that instance, you may be asked for one of over 30 acceptable forms of identification or proof of residency, such as a driver’s license, utility bill or a check from the government.  If you are voting by mail you should include a copy of this identification or proof of residency with your ballot.  This does NOT have to be a photo ID.  If you do not have any of these documents to prove your identity or proof of residency, you can vote by provisional ballot, which will be counted if the signature on your ballot matches the signature on your registration form.

You will need to re-register to vote when:

  • You move;
  • You change your name; or
  • You change your political party choice.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), also known as Standard Form 76, to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) California-specific FPCA page.

Military and overseas citizens can receive voting materials by fax,email, or postal service.  If you wish to use the fax or email options, you must indicate this on your FPCA.  Instructions for doing so are found on the FVAP's California-specific FPCA page.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) if they are concerned with receiving their printed ballot and returning it by the 8:00 p.m., Election Day deadline.  Note that California law does not permit voted ballots to be sent back by email, but rather by fax if you live outside the territorial limits of the U.S or by postal mail.  The FWAB is a blank ballot on which voters write-in their choices.  The FWAB may also be used to register to vote and to apply for the absentee ballot, all in one step.  If the FWAB is being used to register to vote, it must be received by the voter registration deadline.  For specific instructions, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's California-specific FWAB page.

If you have a felony conviction you can vote if: you are on probation, or you have completed your post-release community supervision, or you have completed your mandatory supervision, or you have completed your parole.

Once an individual has completed a felony sentence, including any parole or post-release supervision, he/she must re-register to vote before the registration deadline. 

FAQ

Top Issues **not yet updated since 2014**

For more information for voters with disabilities, visit the National Disability Rights Network’s voting resource center.

For more information for student voters, visit the California Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

2016 Election Information for your state