Registering to Vote

To begin, check the requirements to vote to find out if you may register to vote in California.

Californians must be registered to vote at least 15 days before Election Day. For this date and other important election deadlines, go to Election Dates and Resources. If the registration deadline has passed for an upcoming election, in most elections you may visit your county elections office during the 14 days prior to, and including Election Day to conditionally register to vote and vote a provisional ballot. This process is called Conditional Voter Registration.

Once you register, you may vote in all state and local elections. You will not need to register to vote again unless you change your name or change your political party preference.  If you move, you can update your California residence address by re-registering online or by submitting a paper voter registration application. 

You can also send a signed letter to your current county elections official, informing them of your move and providing them with your date of birth and current address, even if it is in a different county.  However, if you have already updated your residence address at the Department of Motor Vehicles or the U.S. Postal Service, your registration will be automatically updated with your new address.

How do you register to vote by the deadline?

  • Go to online voter registration to complete an application, or
  • Pick up a paper voter registration application at any Department of Motor Vehicles field office, and many post offices, public libraries, and government offices, or request one from your county elections office.  To receive a voter registration application by mail from the Secretary of State, call the toll-free Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683).

How will I identify myself when registering to vote?

The voter registration application asks for your driver license or California identification card number, or you can use the last four numbers on your Social Security card. If you do not have a driver license, California identification card or Social Security card, you may leave that space blank. Your county elections official will assign a number to you that will be used to identify you as a voter.

Who may register and vote after the deadline?

State law allows some people to register and vote even when they will not be eligible until after the voter registration deadline.  See the below headings for examples:

New citizens

If you will become a U.S. citizen less than 15 days before the next election, you may still be able to register and vote. To do this, you must visit your county elections office any time before the polls close on Election Day. You must bring proof that you are a U.S. citizen and sign a form saying you are eligible to vote in California. For more information, please refer to A New Citizen’s Guide to Voting (PDF).  Contact your county elections office for more information

New state residents

If you meet all the other requirements to vote in California but become a California resident less than 15 days before the next election, you may still be able to register and vote. To do this, you must visit your county elections office at least seven days before Election Day. You will be required to sign an oath saying you are eligible to vote in California and have not voted in the same election in any other state. Then you may vote only for President and Vice President.  Contact your county elections office for more information.

Citizens who conditionally register to vote

After a voter registration deadline has passed, in most elections, you can visit your county elections office to conditionally register to vote and vote a provisional ballot. Once your county elections official processes your affidavit of registration, determines your eligibility to register, and validates your information, your registration becomes permanent and your provisional ballot will be counted.  For more information, please refer to Conditional Voter Registration.