California Elections

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Upcoming Elections

2016 Presidential Preference Primary: Tuesday, June 7

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

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.

Voting Rights

News

North Carolina DMV says it messed up by rejecting 86-year-old woman
02/12/16 |
Publication Date: 
Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 12:15
Excerpt: 

Amy Lee Knisley, Bowser’s daughter-in-law [, said] “She’s been voting and getting driver’s licenses, and traveling in the Caribbean and Mexico, all those 60 odd years. And the state of North Carolina decides none of that is good enough for us.” ...

Knisley, a faculty member at Warren Wilson College, worries about other women who may have difficulty proving that they changed their names when they married long ago. ...

If you don’t have a court order, marriage certificate or divorce decree to establish that you changed your name in the past, you can sign a DMV form DL-101 – an affidavit in which you affirm that you have legally changed your name – at the DMV office. ...

“We’ve not heard of [the opportunity to provide a sworn statement about name changes] before,” [Irving Joyner, a Durham lawyer for the NAACP] said. “This mix of mismatched names is a common problem for Latinos. We don’t know how many people are impacted by this problem, but obviously this is a problem.”

Joyner said he and other attorneys plan to look deeper into the Bowser case. He said he has represented ID applicants over the past few years who were never offered the option of an affidavit.

“It would appear – and we’re looking into it – that this was a resolution that was tailor-made for this one participant,” Joyner said. “It certainly smells like it’s something that’s not available to all.” 

She’s 86. She can’t get a photo ID. Look at the voter fraud we’ve prevented
02/11/16 |
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 17:30
Excerpt: 

Reba Bowser is...86 years old. She’s a staunch Republican. She’s been a faithful voter since the Eisenhower administration, missing only the most recent election after moving from New Hampshire to western North Carolina to be close to her son’s family. ...

On Monday, [Reba and her son, Ed,] went to the Department of Motor Vehicles in [North Carolina]. There, they laid out all of Reba’s paperwork for a DMV official – her birth record from Pennsylvania, her Social Security card, the New Hampshire driver’s license she let expire because she no longer wanted to drive.

But there was a problem. When Reba got married in 1950, she had her name legally changed. Like millions upon millions of women, she swapped out her middle name for her maiden name.

That name – Reba Miller Bowser – didn’t match the name on her birth record. A DMV computer flagged the discrepancy. Her photo ID application was rejected. ...

There’s good reason for Reba’s confusion. Her name had never been an issue before this week. Not when she applied for driver’s licenses in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Not when she’s flown on airplanes and traveled to other countries. ...

But now, Ed says: “I’m thinking how this affected an 86-year-old woman with limited transportation and resources. You think about extending that to poor communities and minority communities.”

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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 rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

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Helpful Election Information

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 Presidential Preference Primary: Tuesday, June 7

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

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.

Your polling place location will be printed on the Sample Ballot received from the local county elections official prior to an election.  You may search for your polling place online or contact your county election official.

REGISTER TO VOTE HERE

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