How to Vote

Register to Vote

In order to cast a ballot in the State of California, you must first register to vote. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to complete this essential step.

Register to Vote

This link allows you to easily register online to vote in California. To do this, will need your

1. California Driver’s Licence or California Identification Card number

2. The last four digits of your social security card number

3. Your date of birth

(If you do not have a Driver’s License or Identification Card, you can still use this link to register, but you will need to complete additional steps)

Pre-Register

If you are 16 or 17, you can use the link to Pre-Register to vote. This does not mean you can vote before you are 18, just that you are registered to vote when you turn 18. To do this, you have to meet the following criteria.

1. A United States Citizen and Resident of California

2. Not currently in State/Federal prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony

3. Not currently found incompetent to vote by a Court

Check Registration

Use this link to check if you are registered to vote, where you are registered to vote, your political party preference, your language preference for election materials, contact information for your county elections office, and choose how you want to receive your state and county voter guides.

(Wait 24 hours after registering online before checking you status)

Same Day Registration

Same Day Voter Registration, or Conditional Voter Registration, allows eligible citizens who need to register or re-register to vote within 14 days of an election to complete a registration form at certain polling locations. Their ballots will be processed and counted once the county elections office has completed the voter registration verification process. More information about Same Day Registration is provided through the link.

Vote By Mail

Voting by Mail is a process that makes it a lot simpler and more convenient for people to cast their ballot! It allows you to securely vote from home without going to a polling place!

Pursuant to Executive Order N-64-20, all registered voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot for the November 3, 2020, General Election. Registered voters do not have to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot for this election due to COVID-19.

Apply to Vote by Mail

There are two ways to apply to vote by mail.

1. You may use the application printed on the voter information guide that is mailed to you prior to every election or use the application linked above. Mail the completed application to your county elections office. Applications in different languages can be found here.

2. Any time after 7 days before Election Day, you will need to apply in person at your county elections office to request a vote-by-mail ballot for that election.

California Voter’s Choice Act

California counties that have decided to adopt the California Voter’s Choice Act use a vote-by-mail system for all elections, meaning that every registered voter receives a ballot in the mail 28 days before Election Day. As of 2020, these counties are: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Tuolumne.


When you registered to vote, you were asked to fill in your driver license number, California identification number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you did not include this information, be sure to send a photocopy of some personal identification in the envelope with your ballot. A copy of a recent utility bill, the county Voter Information Guide you received from your county elections office, or another document sent to you by a government agency are examples of acceptable forms of identification.


You may return your Vote by Mail ballot in four different ways.

Mail it to your County Elections Official

Vote-by-mail ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your County Elections Office no later than 17 days after Election Day.

Return it in person to a Polling Place or the office of your County Elections Official

Vote-by-mail ballots can be delivered to any polling place in the state between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. You can find polling locations here.

Drop your ballot into one of your county’s ballot drop boxes

You can find more information on this below.

Authorize someone to return the ballot on your behalf

Anyone may return your ballot for you, as long as they do not get paid on a per ballot basis and you fill out the authorization section found on the outside of your ballot envelope.

Ballot Drop-Off

A Ballot Drop-Off is a secured box where you may drop off your Vote by Mail ballots as opposed to mailing them in. You can find your closest Ballot Drop-Off using the link. Ballots must be dropped-off no later than the close of polls at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day

Track your Ballot

Using the link, you can track when your Vote by Mail ballot has been mailed, received, and counted.

Polling Places

Another way for you to vote is to go to your polling place and submit your ballot there!

Polling Locations

You can use this link to enter your address and find your polling location!

In most cases, California voters are not required to show identification at their polling place. However, it is a good idea to bring identification with you when you vote for the first time. A poll worker may ask to see your identification if you mailed your voter registration application and did not include your driver license number, California identification number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

A copy of a recent utility bill, the county Voter Information Guide you received from your county elections office, or another document sent to you by a government agency are examples of acceptable forms of identification. Other examples include your passport, driver license, official California identification card, or student identification card.

California Voter’s Choice Act

California counties that have decided to adopt the California Voter’s Choice Act allow voters to cast a ballot at any vote center within their county. Therefore, you can choose from multiple locations. As of 2020, these counties are: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Tuolumne.

How to use your Voting System

If you are curious about what type of voting system your county has implemented in polling locations, you can use the link above to find out how to use it!

Provisional Ballots

If you believe you are registered to vote, even if your name is not on the official voter registration list at the polling place, or if you are registered to Vote by Mail and instead want to vote at your polling place, but you did not receive your ballot or do not have your ballot with you, you have the right to vote a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot is a regular ballot that is placed in a special envelope prior to being put in the ballot box.

Your provisional ballot will be counted after elections officials have confirmed that you are registered to vote in that county and you did not already vote in that election. You can find out if your provisional ballot was counted and, if not, the reason why it was not counted, here.

Additional Help

If you need additional help with any part of the voting process, there are many ways you can get the help you need!