Voting Rights for Californians with Criminal Convictions or Detained in Jail or Prison

Print Versions in ten languages

Eligibility Requirements

You can register to vote and vote if you are:

  • A United States citizen;
  • A resident of California;
  • At least 18 years of age or older on or before the next Election Day;
  • Not currently imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony; and
  • Not found mentally incompetent by a court of law. 

Eligible to register and vote:

  • In county jail serving a misdemeanor sentence. A misdemeanor never affects your right to vote.
  • In county jail because jail time is a condition of probation.
  • On probation.
  • On mandatory supervision.
  • On post-release community supervision.
  • Done with parole.  Your right to vote is automatically restored when you complete your parole. You just need to fill out a voter registration application either online at or using a paper voter registration card.

Not eligible to register and vote:

  • Currently imprisoned:
    • In state prison.
    • In county jail serving a state prison sentence.
  • Currently on parole.

Criminal Justice Realignment Act

In 2011, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed the Criminal Justice Realignment Act (Realignment). Under Penal Code section 1170(h), low-level felons are sentenced to county jail and/or supervision by the county probation department instead of state prison. Realignment has caused some confusion about voting rights among people who have criminal convictions. The chart above provides an explanation of who is eligible and who is not eligible to register to vote in California.

California Penal Code section 2910 allows the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) to make agreements with local governments to house felons in a county jail or other correctional facility.  For more information, please visit CDCR’s website  If you have questions about your voting rights, please contact your parole or county probation office. 

How to Register to Vote

You may request a voter registration card from the Secretary of State or your county elections office.  You may also apply to register to vote on the Secretary of State’s website Your voter registration application must be received or postmarked at least fifteen (15) days before Election Day to be eligible to vote in that election.  Voter registration cards and voting materials are available in English, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.   If you are in jail, you are entitled to receive a voter registration card if you are eligible to vote.  See the attached list for state and local elections office contact information.

Vote by Mail

If you are already registered to vote at your current home address, you may request a vote-by-mail ballot application by contacting your county elections office.  Once you receive your vote-by-mail ballot application, you must complete and return it to your county elections office at least seven (7) days before Election Day.

If you are not registered to vote at your current home address, you may register or re-register to vote and request a vote-by-mail ballot on the Secretary of State’s website  

Released from Custody

If you requested a vote-by-mail ballot but are released from custody before you receive your ballot, you can still vote.  Just go to the polling place for your home address or any polling place in the county where you are registered and vote a provisional ballot.

If you change your name, home address, mailing address, or party preference, you must complete a new voter registration card.

Voter registration cards are available at most public libraries and government offices.  Additionally, you may apply to register to vote online at


Print version in ten languages

English (PDF) 
español/ Spanish (PDF)
中文 / Chinese (PDF)
हिन्दी / Hindi (PDF)
日本語 / Japanese (PDF)
ខ្មែរ / Khmer (PDF)
한국어 / Korean (PDF)
Tagalog (PDF)
ภาษาไทย / Thai (PDF)
Việt ngữ / Vietnamese (PDF)


For more information contact your county elections office or the California Secretary of State:

California County Elections Officials


California Secretary of State
Elections Division

1500 11th Street, 5th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Voter Hotlines