Anyone distributing voter registration cards in California should be familiar with the rules and regulations for conducting voter registration drives.
Anyone requesting 50 or more voter registration cards from the Secretary of State must complete and submit a Statement of Distribution Form and a plan of distribution to the Secretary of State via mail or fax to:
- California Secretary of State
- Elections Division
- 1500 11th Street, 5th Floor
- Sacramento, CA 95814
- Fax: (916) 653-3214
The Secretary of State's Elections Division will process the request within 48 hours of receiving the form. For additional assistance, please contact the Secretary of State's Elections Division at (916) 657-2166.
The Secretary of State’s Guide to Voter Registration Drives is designed to help political parties, voter registration drive coordinators, petition management companies, circulators, and volunteers understand their responsibilities and requirements when helping people register to vote.
This Guide is designed to reflect all current laws, regulations and rules that pertain to voter registration, but it does not have the force and effect of law, regulation or rule. Therefore, in the unlikely event there is a conflict between the Guide and a law, regulation or rule, the law, regulation or rule shall take precedence.
The Secretary of State’s Investigative Services Unit vigorously pursues possible violations of the California Elec. Code, and Penal Code relating to election, voter registration, petition, and voter fraud. The Unit has the authority to investigate all possible Elec. Code, related violations but must turn its findings over to the Attorney General or local district attorney for possible prosecution of any case.
If you witness activity that you suspect may be improper or illegal or if you have questions, please contact the Secretary of State’s Elections Division at (916) 657-2166.
Revised January 2021
Chapter I. Planning A Voter Registration Drive
Contact Your Local Elections Office
Planning is the first step of a successful voter registration drive. You must decide if you will conduct your drive using paper voter registration cards or the California Online Voter Registration application (RegisterToVote.ca.gov), or a combination of the two.
Your county elections office can provide you with the materials you need to get started, as well as offer advice about how to conduct a successful registration drive. Please refer to the Secretary of State’s website for a list of county elections offices.
Develop a Plan
After consulting with your county elections office and getting the appropriate materials, you may wish to gather important data. While it is possible to distribute voter registration cards at any location, you may wish to develop a plan to reach the largest number of unregistered citizens in your area.
Two questions you may wish to ask to help you develop a plan include:
- How many people in the area where you want to conduct your voter registration drive are already registered to vote?
- How many of those who are not registered to vote will be 18 by the time of the next election, are U.S. citizens, and are residents of California?
Information to help you answer these questions is available from various census publications and from the United States Census Bureau. Congressional district, city, and state information can be found in the Guide to State and Local Census Geography. These publications also may be available at your local library.
Answering these questions will help you define the scope of your voter registration drive, as well as identify the resources you will need to meet your goals. It may also make the way you approach your efforts more effective and your drive more successful.
Any person, group or organization requesting more than 50 voter registration cards from a county elections official or the Secretary of State’s office must complete a distribution form and state the distribution plan on the form. The distribution plan should describe how the drive will be organized, what groups will be targeted, what methods will be used to distribute cards, and an acknowledgement that organizers know and will follow the laws and rules relating to voter registration. (Cal. Code Regs, title 2, § 20001(g).)
A Voter Registration Card Statement of Distribution form is available on the Secretary of State’s website and in Appendix A.
Paying People to Register Citizens to Vote
Elec. Code, section 2159.5 sets forth the requirements relating to any person, company, or organization that is paying people to help register citizens to vote, by receiving completed affidavits of registration1 or by assisting with the submission of an electronic affidavit of registration through the Secretary of State’s website. A summary of Elec. Code, section 2159.5 can be found in Appendix B.
One of the requirements that a registration drive organizer should aware of is the requirement that a circulator be provided with a written statement setting forth all of their personal responsibilities and liabilities under various Elec. Code, sections. (Elec. Code, § 2159.5(a).) A Sample Statement of Circulator’s Responsibilities and Liabilities can be found in Appendix C.
Failure to comply with any of the requirements set forth in Elec. Code, section 2159.5 is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), up to one year in jail, or both. The fine and imprisonment time increase upon a third or subsequent conviction. (Elec. Code, § 18108.5.)
As a registration drive organizer, you should be mindful of the potential for voter registration fraud. A list of possible voter registration fraud indicators can be found in Appendix D.
Please contact the Secretary of State’s Elections Division at (916) 657-2166 for more information.
 The Elec. Code,, in most places, refers to completed voter registration cards as affidavits of registration. For purposes of this guide, completed voter registration cards are referred to as affidavits of registration.
Chapter II. Training Your Team
Training Is Important!
It is critical that everyone working or volunteering for you understands the procedures and laws relating to voter registration. Before being sent out to register people to vote, be certain that each person knows the eligibility requirements for registration and how important it is for registrants to correctly complete the voter registration card.
If your workers or volunteers give out incorrect information, they and you, as the drive organizer, may inadvertently deny a qualified citizen the ability to register to vote or register a person who is not qualified to register to vote. There are criminal penalties for intentionally denying qualified citizens the opportunity to register to vote or for registering someone to vote who is not eligible to register to vote.
Contact Your Local Elections Official
Be sure to contact your local elections official about training everyone involved in your registration drive. Many local elections officials conduct voter registration training programs and have printed material or other resources that might be useful in training your workers and volunteers. Please refer to the Secretary of State’s website for a list of county elections offices.
The following information should be shared with your workers or volunteers to ensure they are aware of the voter registration laws and regulations, and to help them answer questions about voter registration. Each worker or volunteer must understand that if a person asks a question and the worker or volunteer is unsure of the answer, they should refer the person to the appropriate elections official.
Workers and volunteers should have a copy of the “Voter Registration - Frequently Asked Questions” information in Appendix F when registering voters.
Voter Registration Card (VRC) - The Basics of Voter Registration
State Voter Registration Card vs. County Voter Registration Card
State Voter Registration Card
The state VRC is pre-printed with a mailing address to the Secretary of State’s office in Sacramento. These cards come to the Secretary of State’s office, are sorted by hand and then forwarded to the appropriate county elections office where the voter is actually placed on the voter rolls.
The state VRC is printed in English, as well as in Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese, as required by the federal Voting Rights Act.
The benefit of using the state VRC is it can be used in any of 58 counties. However, it will take a person longer to be registered to vote, given that the cards are mailed to one central location, and then mailed out to the appropriate county where the person is registering to vote.
County Voter Registration Card
The county VRC is identical to the state VRC except the pre-printed mailing address on the front is that of a specific county elections office, so these VRCs can be mailed directly back to the specific county elections office.
Counties are only required to provide election materials in certain languages other than English when the number of residents that speak a minority-language exceeds a certain percentage of the population. Therefore, most counties do not print county VRCs in all nine federally required languages.
The benefit of using the county VRC is the person will become a registered voter much quicker, since the card is mailed directly to their local county elections office.
Which Card to Use
If you are planning a statewide voter registration drive, you should use the state VRC, especially if you plan to register voters at an event or activity that will attract people from different counties.
If you are conducting your drive exclusively in one county, you should use that county’s VRC. This will ensure county elections officials will receive the VRC more quickly. Even if you are conducting a regional voter registration drive involving several counties, you may wish to use VRCs that are specific to each county.
If you are conducting a voter registration drive using RegisterToVote.ca.gov, the California Online Voter Registration application, you do not have to make a determination as to which card to use. The electronically submitted affidavits of registration are automatically sent to the appropriate county.
Where to Obtain Voter Registration Cards
VRCs must be provided in sufficient quantities to anyone who wishes to distribute the cards. However, elections officials are precluded by law from giving cards to anyone who has been convicted of violating voter registration laws within the last five years. (Elec. Code, § 2158.)
To obtain county VRCs, contact the appropriate county elections office. Please refer to the Secretary of State’s website for a list of county elections offices.
To obtain state VRCs, contact the Secretary of State’s Elections Division at (916) 657-2166.
Anyone requesting more than 50 VRCs from a county elections official or the Secretary of State’s office must complete a distribution form, which includes a plan of distribution, in order to obtain the registration cards. A Voter Registration Card Statement of Distribution form is available on the Secretary of State’s website and in Appendix A. In order to receive state VRCs, the completed statement and plan of distribution can be faxed to the Secretary of State’s office at (916) 653-3214 or mailed to:
Secretary of State
1500 11th Street, 5th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Upon receiving a completed request by fax or mail, the Secretary of State will process the request within 48 hours.
If you will be conducting a mass mailing of VRCs without targeting unregistered, eligible citizens and without the intended recipients having asked for the cards, the Secretary of State will help you design a distribution plan to ensure cards are not unnecessarily wasted.
Can a Voter Registration Card from One County be Used to Register a Resident of Another County?
Yes. If a resident of one county uses another county’s VRC to register, the county that receives the completed card (affidavit of registration) will forward it to the proper county elections office. (Elec. Code, § 2114.) However, it is best to use the county-specific cards whenever possible to avoid delays in getting the citizen registered to vote.
Deadline for Voter Registration
Even though citizens can register to vote at any time, if they want to vote in an upcoming election, the deadline to register or re-register is no later than 15 days before that election. A completed affidavit of registration must be postmarked or delivered in person to the county elections office no later than 15 days before an election. (Elec. Code, §§ 2102, 2119.) If an affidavit of registration is postmarked or received past the deadline, it will not be valid for the current election; however, the person will be registered to vote for future elections.
New citizens can register up to and including on Election Day and vote a non-provisional ballot. (Elec. Code, §§ 331, 3500.)
Additionally, if the deadline has passed, citizens have the opportunity to “conditionally” register to vote and vote provisionally. (Elec. Code, § 2170.) Information about Conditional Voter Registration, also known as “Same Day” voter registration, can be found at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration/same-day-reg/.
In order to register to vote, a person must be:
- A United States citizen and a resident of California,
- 18 years old or older on Election Day (or 16 or 17 years old for pre-registration),
- Not currently serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony,
- Not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court.
United States Citizenship
The most basic requirement for registering to vote is United States citizenship. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” A person is not a citizen simply because they live in California or are married to a U.S. citizen.
Both federal law and state law require the applicant to check a box on the affidavit of registration to indicate that they are a U.S. citizen. If an applicant has not checked the "Yes" box to indicate U.S. citizenship and instead left the U.S. citizenship check box blank, the affidavit of registration will not be accepted. Elections Code section 2111 states that an affidavit of registration is proof of citizenship for voting purposes only; it cannot be used to prove citizenship for any other purpose.
A voter’s residence, for purposes of voter registration, is the address specified by the voter. A voter may have more than one residence but may only register to vote at the residence the voter considers to be their domicile. For example, a voter may have homes in Red Bluff and San Diego, spending a portion of their time in each. In this case, the voter should register at the address they consider to be their principal residence, at which they have the intention of remaining, and to which they, when away, intend to return.
A person’s residence status depends on their action and intent. If a person moves to another state or another country but intends to return, they may still claim residency in California. However, they cannot register to vote in another state and also continue to vote in California.
If a person is in the service of the United States or the State of California, that person may retain residency in California for voting purposes if stationed elsewhere. (Elec. Code, § 2025.)
A student who is going to school away from home may register to vote either at the address where they live when going to school or at the address where they live when they are not going to school. If a student is re-registering to vote at their school address, they should fill out the prior registration portion of the card to update their previous registration.
Courts have ruled that a person who is experiencing homelessness may register to vote at a location they state is the place where they spend most of their time. The person must provide a description of the location that is clear enough for the elections official to establish that person’s right to vote in a particular precinct. This ensures accurate elections materials can be provided to this voter. In these instances, a mailing address should (but is not required) to be provided in order for the voter to receive election materials.
Citizens who will be at least 18 years of age at the time of the next election may register and vote.
The pre-registration of 16- and 17-year olds, who meet all of the other eligibility requirements to vote, is also allowed. Those citizens will automatically be registered to vote on their 18th birthdays. (Elec. Code, § 2102.)
Serving a state or federal prison term for a felony conviction
A person loses the right to register and vote while they are serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony. Once they are out of state or federal prison (or county jail or other correctional facility for serving a state prison sentence) the person’s ability to vote (if they were previously registered) or to register and vote is restored. (Elec. Code, §§ 2101, 2212.) For more information on the rights of people who have been incarcerated, please see the Secretary of State’s Voting Rights: Persons with a Criminal History.
A person declared by a court to be mentally incompetent, and therefore disqualified from voting, may not register to vote. The registration of any voter found by a court to be mentally incompetent for voting purposes must be canceled by the county elections official. (Elec. Code, §§ 2208, 2209, 2210, 2211.) For more information on the rights of people who have been incarcerated, please see the Secretary of State’s Voting Rights: Persons Subject to Conservatorship.
Who Can Register Citizens to Vote?
You do not need to be a registered voter, be a particular age or even be a resident of the area in order to register voters. However, if you help someone fill out an affidavit of registration, you do have to fill in and sign the affidavit in the spaces provided for that purpose.
Partisan Political Activity While Registering Voters
Any person may, while registering voters, conduct partisan political activity. The law does not restrict your free speech rights when conducting a voter registration drive. Common courtesy and common sense, however, should be practiced.
Give a Voter Registration Card to Anyone Who Requests One
Even if you are conducting a partisan voter registration drive, California law requires you to give a blank VRC to anyone who asks for one and turn in any completed affidavits of registration, regardless of the person’s party preference. (Elec. Code, § 2158; Cal. Code Regs, title 2, § 20001(g)(1).) Failure to do so is punishable by a fine. (Elec. Code, § 18107.)
A Citizen Need Not Be Able to Speak and/or Write English in Order to Register to Vote
There is no literacy requirement for participation in the elections process. If a citizen cannot read or write in any language, they may be assisted in completing a VRC.
Whenever a person, who is being paid to register citizens, provides assistance to a citizen registering to vote, the person assisting must also sign and date the completed affidavit of registration and provide their full name, telephone number, and address, and the name and telephone number of the person, company or organization, if any, that agrees to pay money or other valuable consideration for the completed affidavit of registration. (Elec. Code, §§ 2150, 2159.) Failure to do so is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both. (Elec. Code, § 18108.)
You Cannot Charge a Citizen a Fee to Register to Vote
The 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the use of any poll or other tax as a way to deny people the right to vote. Additionally, Elec. Code, section 2121 states, “No fees may be charged for registration.” A person may, however, solicit campaign contributions while registering voters, as long as that is not a condition for allowing an eligible citizen to register to vote.
Change of Address, Voter's Name, or Political Party Preference
Voters need to re-register to vote whenever they move to a new address, change their name, or change their political party preference. When completing a new affidavit of registration, they should provide both their new and previous registration information. (Elec. Code, §§ 2115, 2152.)
The Circulator May Not Fill in the Blanks on Affidavits of Registration
The circulator may not fill in the blanks on an affidavit of registration unless the citizen registering to vote asks for that help. If asked for assistance, the circulator must complete the affidavit exactly as the citizen requests. The circulator assisting in filling out the affidavit must also provide all required information on the affidavit (sign and date the affidavit, provide their full name, telephone number, address, and the name and telephone number of the person, company or organization, if any, that agrees to pay money or other valuable consideration for the completed affidavits of registration). Affidavits with any pre-filled “blanks” may not be used. (Elec. Code, §§ 2159, 2162.)
Affidavits of Registration are Signed Under Penalty of Perjury
To be valid, an affidavit of registration must include the signature of the voter indicating they certify under penalty of perjury that the information on the affidavit is accurate. Perjury is punishable by imprisonment for up to four years. (Penal Code §§ 118, 126.)
Information on Affidavits of Registration is Confidential
Personal information provided on an affidavit of registration is confidential, but is required by law to be released to people who intend to use that information for election, scholarly, journalistic, or political purposes, or for governmental purposes, as determined by the Secretary of State. However, the driver license, identification card or social security number is confidential and will not be released, even for the uses listed above. The voter’s signature is also confidential and can only be disclosed in limited circumstances. (Elec. Code, § 2194.)
The voter registration file may be purchased from the county or from the Secretary of State for the above-listed purposes only. The voter registration file may not be used for commercial purposes. (Elec. Code, § 2194.)
A person wishing to order a copy of the voter registration file must complete an application that requires them to provide their driver license or state identification card number. The person applying must also show their identification to the elections office to verify their identity.
If a person or an organization in charge of the voter registration drive discloses a driver license number, identification card number, social security number, and/or signature from an affidavit of registration to someone other than an elections official or the person or organization in charge of the voter registration drive, that person is guilty of an infraction. The infraction is punishable by a fine of up to five hundred dollars ($500). (Elec. Code, §§ 2138.5, 18111.)
Duplicated Voter Registration Cards Cannot Be Used
Only official state or county-issued VRCs may be used. If your voter registration drive runs out of cards, you may obtain more from the county elections office or from the Secretary of State’s office.
You may not print VRCs in the newspaper, in newsletters, or elsewhere. You may, however, print and publish a request for a VRC which, when filled out and returned by the citizen, would trigger a voter registration card to be mailed to that citizen for them to complete and return.
Returning the Completed Affidavits of Registration
Completed affidavits of registration may be returned either in person to the county elections official or by depositing them in the mail. If a person accepts a completed affidavit from a voter, that affidavit must be returned in person, to the county elections official or Secretary of State, or deposited in the mail within three days of receiving it (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and state holidays) or before the close of registration, whichever is earlier. (Elec. Code, § 2138.) Failure to submit completed affidavits of registration within this time frame is a misdemeanor. (Elec. Code, § 18103.)
The circulator must allow a voter to return their own completed affidavit of registration; the circulator cannot interfere with the prompt transfer of a completed affidavit from a voter to the elections office. (Elec. Code, § 2138.) Refusal to return a completed affidavit to the voter or interference with the prompt transfer of a completed affidavit is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine. (Elec. Code, § 18103.)
Offering Incentives for Registering Voters
Federal law makes it unlawful in an election in which there is a federal contest on the ballot (e.g., President, U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative) to knowingly and willfully pay, offer to pay, or accept payment for registering to vote or for voting. (52 U.S.C. § 10307(c).) Violations are punishable by a fine up to $10,000 or imprisonment for up to five years, or both. Any type of incentive is considered “payment,” even things as seemingly innocent as cookies or admission to an entertainment event.
Completing a Paper Affidavit of Registration
There Are Two Portions to Each Affidavit
The registration portion. This section is used to register the voter, is detachable, and can be mailed to the elections official without the need for postage.
The voter's receipt. A number is printed on the receipt, which corresponds to the number under the signature block on the registration portion of the affidavit. Anyone helping a person register to vote and returning the completed affidavit to the elections office on behalf of the newly registered voter must fill out the information required on the receipt and give it to the person who is registering to vote. (Elec. Code, § 2158.)
The card should be filled out with black, blue, or other dark ink colored pen.
All of the information on the affidavit must be legible. If an elections official cannot read the information on the affidavit, they may not be able to enter the voter’s name into voter registration file and assign them to the proper precinct and district.
Complete the Entire Affidavit of Registration
Make sure the person registering to vote fills out the affidavit of registration completely. Any omission of required information may delay or invalidate the registration. A one-page summary, “Basics for Completing Voter Registration Cards (VRCs)” is attached as Appendix E.
Most common omissions and/or mistakes
Citizenship and Age: There are “Yes” and “No” check boxes where the person must check both their citizenship and age eligibility (Item 1).
County: People are accustomed to writing their city and state, but not identifying the county in which they live when writing their address. Information about a person’s county is requested in two places on the affidavit: the residence address portion and the prior registration portion. (Items 4, 6)
Birthplace: Many people list a city rather than the state or foreign country where they were born. (Item 3)
Missing Identification Information: Failure to provide the required driver license number, state identification card number, or the last four digits of the social security number may cause delays. A person should fill in the proper identification number if they have one. (Item 3)
Prior Registration: This section must be completed if the voter has been registered before, whether in California or in another state. (Item 6)
Signature and Date: Local elections officials cannot process unsigned affidavits of registration. The person must put the date the affidavit of registration was completed and signed. (Item 10)
What Happens if the Affidavit of Registration is not Filled Out Completely?
If the affidavit of registration does not have all the required information, but the voter provided their telephone number, the elections official will call the person to collect the missing information. If the telephone number is not provided or cannot be read, the elections office will try to contact the person at their address to get the missing information. (Elec. Code, § 2153.)
If neither the telephone number nor the address is provided or readable, the affidavit will be rejected and the person will not be registered to vote.
Chapter III. Penalties for Failing to Comply with Voter Registration Requirements
Penalties for the Voter
There are many rights and responsibilities associated with registering to vote. A misuse of those rights and responsibilities can result in criminal fines and penalties.
An affidavit of registration is signed under penalty of perjury. Penal Code section 118(a) defines perjury, in pertinent part, as follows:
Every person who, having taken an oath that he or she will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly before any competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any of the cases in which the oath may by law of the State of California be administered, willfully and contrary to the oath, states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, and every person who testifies, declares, deposes, or certifies under penalty of perjury in any of the cases in which the testimony, declarations, depositions, or certification is permitted by law of the State of California under penalty of perjury and willfully states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of perjury.
False statements on an affidavit of registration about a voter’s name and place of birth are deemed willful and constitute perjury. (People vs. Darcy (1943) 59 Cal.App.2d 342, 348-349.)
Perjury is punishable by imprisonment for up to four years. (Penal Code § 126.)
Registration of a Person Not Entitled to Register
Any person who allows themselves or any other person to be registered as a voter, knowing that they or any other person is not entitled to registration may be imprisoned for up to three years, or in county jail for up to one year. (Elec. Code, § 18100.)
Any person who is not entitled to vote at any election (including people who are illegally registered) who votes or attempts to vote, or who tries to vote more than once, may be imprisoned for up to three years, or in county jail for up to one year. (Elec. Code, § 18560.)
Imposition of a Fine in Addition to Imprisonment
Upon a conviction for any crime punishable by imprisonment in any jail or prison, when a fine is not set forth, the court may impose a fine on the offender not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) in cases of misdemeanors or up to twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) in cases of felonies. This is in addition to the imprisonment prescribed. (Elec. Code, § 18001.)
Penalties for the Person Registering Voters
There are also penalties associated with violating laws pertaining to the registration of voters.
Registration of a Person Not Entitled to Vote
Anyone who knowingly registers to vote people who are not citizens, are currently serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony, or in any other way are not entitled to register, is guilty of a crime. This crime is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years, or in a county jail for up to one year. (Elec. Code, § 18100.)
Registration of a Nonexistent Person
Anyone who tries to register a nonexistent person (the definition includes deceased persons, animals, and inanimate objects) to vote is guilty of a crime. This crime is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years, or in a county jail up to one year. (Elec. Code, § 18100.)
Registration of a Person without Their Consent or Registration of a Fictitious Person
Anyone who tries to register or re-register a fictitious person or any person, who has not requested registration or re-registration as a voter, is guilty of a crime. This crime is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years, or in a county jail for up to one year. (Elec. Code, § 18101.)
Interference with Transfer of an Affidavit of Registration to County Elections Official
Any person who registers a voter and is entrusted by that voter with the responsibility of returning that voter’s affidavit of registration to the appropriate elections official must return the affidavit within three days, not including Saturdays, Sundays, and state holidays, of receipt from the voter or before the close of registration, whichever is earlier.
A voter is also free to return their own affidavit of registration to the county elections official, even when they received the card from a person involved with a registration drive.
Anyone who interferes with the prompt transfer of a completed affidavit of registration to the county elections official, retains a completed affidavit for more than three business days or after the close of registration, or denies a voter the right to return to the county elections official the voter’s own completed affidavit, is guilty of a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000). (Elec. Code, § 18103.)
Alteration of Party Preference
Anyone who tampers with a voter’s choice of political party preference contained in an affidavit of registration is guilty of a crime. The punishment is imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail for not more than one year. (Elec. Code, § 18106.)
Mailing Voter Registration Cards
Anyone who mails a VRC to a person who does not request one must include a cover letter or other notice instructing the recipient to disregard the card if the person is already registered. Failure to include a cover letter or other notice will subject the mailer to a fine of up to two hundred dollars ($200). (Elec. Code, §§ 2158, 18107.)
Failure to Provide a Voter Registration Receipt
Anyone who helps a citizen register to vote and fails to complete and provide to that citizen the receipt portion of the affidavit of registration is subject to a fine of up to two hundred dollars ($200). (Elec. Code, §§ 2158, 18107.)
Failure to Complete the Blue Box (“Did Someone Help You Fill Out or Deliver This Form?”) on the Affidavit of Registration
Any person who, in exchange for money or other valuable consideration, helps a citizen register to vote by receiving the completed affidavit of registration from the citizen, must sign and date the affidavit of registration and provide their full name, telephone number, address, and the name and telephone number of the person, company or organization, if any, that agrees to pay money or other valuable consideration for the completed affidavit. Anyone who fails to complete the blue box is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Elec. Code, §§ 2150, 2159, 18108.)
See Chapter I, Paying People to Register Citizens to Vote, page 2 and Election Code section 2159.5 for the duties of the drive organizers and Elec. Code, section 18108.5 for penalties associated with any breach of the duties of the drive organizers.
Failure to Give a Voter Registration Card to a Person Requesting One
Anyone who distributes VRCs must provide a VRC to anyone requesting one. (Elec. Code, § 2158.) Anyone who violates this law is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of up to two hundred dollars ($200). (Elec. Code, § 18107.) Any person requesting 50 or more registration cards must sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, that reasonable steps will be taken to ensure that people distributing such cards to potential registrants will give a card to any person requesting one for the purpose of registering to vote. (Cal. Code Regs, title 2, § 20001(g)(1).)
Voter Registration Lotteries, Prizes, Contests
Privately sponsored contests to promote voter registration are outlawed under 52 U.S.C. § 10307(c), which is part of the Federal Voting Rights Act.
You may not offer food, prizes, discounts, or any other form of compensation to encourage voter registration or to encourage people to vote in elections in which there is a candidate for federal office on the ballot (e.g., President, U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative).
Subornation of Perjury
Every person who has another person commit perjury is guilty of subornation of perjury, and is punishable in the same manner as they would be if personally guilty of the perjury. (Pen. Code, § 127.) If an individual knowingly helps an ineligible person register to vote, they are also punishable for perjury and could be charged with this crime.
Printed Statements on Affidavits of Registration
It is a crime for a person, other than the voter, to write on an affidavit of registration any statement supporting or opposing any candidate or measure. Any person, other than the voter, who writes such a statement is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Elec. Code, § 18105.)
Misrepresenting Information on Circulator Section of Affidavits of Registration
Anyone who misrepresents themselves as having registered another person to vote is guilty of a misdemeanor. This crime is punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment in county jail for up to six months or by both the fine and imprisonment. However, upon a third or subsequent conviction of this crime, a person shall be punished by a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), by imprisonment in county jail for up to one year or by both the fine and imprisonment. (Elec. Code, §§ 2159, 18108.1.)
Disclosing Driver License Number, Identification Card Number, Social Security Card Number, or Signature
If a person or an organization in charge of the voter registration drive discloses a driver license number, identification card number, social security number and/or signature from an affidavit of registration to someone other than an elections official or the person or organization in charge of the voter registration drive, that person is guilty of an infraction. The infraction is punishable by a fine for up to five hundred dollars ($500). (Elec. Code, §§ 2138.5, 18111.)
Imposition of a Fine in Addition to Imprisonment
Upon a conviction for any crime punishable by imprisonment in any jail or prison, when a fine is not set forth, the court may impose a fine on the offender for up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) in cases of misdemeanors or up to twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) in cases of felonies. This is in addition to the imprisonment prescribed. (Elec. Code, § 18001.)