When individuals register to vote on a paper voter registration application, through the Secretary of State’s online voter registration website, or through the Department of Motor Vehicles registration process, the information provided is known as “voter registration information.” Voter registration information is stored by the Secretary of State in the statewide voter registration database.
State laws govern the following:
- who is authorized to access voter registration information,
- the application process for obtaining voter registration information,
- how and by whom voter registration information may be used, and
- the responsibility of authorized recipients of the voter registration information for the security of all voter registration information provided to them.
Who Is Authorized to Access Voter Registration Information
State law allows the following individuals or groups of individuals to access, with some exceptions*, voter registration information:
- any candidate for federal, state, or local office,
- any committee for or against any initiative or referendum measure for which legal publication is made,
- any person for election, scholarly, journalistic, or political purposes, and
- any person for governmental purposes, as determined by the Secretary of State.
*Some voters’ registration records are deemed confidential and are not provided to the above-listed individuals or groups of individuals.
Voter Registration Information File Request
Qualified individuals or groups of individuals can apply to access voter registration information. Applications can be made to the Secretary of State's office or to a specific county. These requests are known as either a Voter Registration Information File Request or a Public Voter Registration Data Request (PVRDR). Depending on the type of request, the file with voter information can contain information for all California voters, or it can contain information for up to 10 voters.
A qualified requestor can request the statewide voter registration information file from the Secretary of State. This file contains voter registration data for all California voters. The requestor can specify if they want the file to also include voter history and/or political district data. The application fee for a statewide voter registration information file is $100.
Single Voter Request
A qualified requestor can request voter registration information for specific voters, up to 10 per application, from the Secretary of State. The requestor must specify the full name, date of birth, county of residence and residence address for each identified voter. The fee to obtain a specific voter registration record is $30.00 per record, up to a maximum of $100.00. Each request for specific voter registration records is limited to 10 records. Specific voter registration information requests can also be made to a county elections official. The application fee for this type of county request varies from county to county.
County Specific Request
A qualified requestor can request a county specific voter registration information file directly from a county elections official. A county file will contain voter registration data for voters ONLY from that specific county. The requestor can specify if they want the file to also include voter history and/or political district data. The application fee for a county specific voter registration information file varies from county to county.
Information Included in a Voter Registration Information File
When access to voter registration information is allowed, only certain voter information is provided in a voter registration information file.
The voter information that is included in the voter registration information file is provided in a specific layout (PDF) and is divided into the following three (3) plain text tab-delimited files:
- Voter Registration Data File (Voter File):
- The following information is contained in this file: the voter’ name, date of birth, registration date, residential and mailing address, precinct, contact information, and political party preference.
- This file is always included for an approved request.
- Data on active voters is automatically included in this file.
- Data on inactive voters must be specifically requested on the application.
- Voter Participation History File (History File):
- The following information is contained in this file: information identified with an election in which a voter has cast a ballot, such as the election type, election date, and voting method (such as at a polling place, via conditional registration, or voting by mail).
- The information does NOT include the voter’s selections when casting their ballot.
- This data must be specifically requested on the application.
- Political Districts File (District File):
- The following information is contained in this file: information identifying the relationship between a precinct and its associated political districts, such as precinct number, district number, and district type,
- This data must be specifically requested on the application.
Information Not Included in a Voter Registration Information File
Even when a requester receives a voter registration information file, they do not receive all the voter registration information that is collected in the statewide voter registration database.
Specific Personal Information - NOT Included
The following specific personal information is excluded under Elections Code section 2194(b) and is not included in any voter registration information file: CA Driver’s license number, CA Identification card number, last four digits of the Social Security Number, unique identifier, and signature or digitized signature image.
Confidential Voter Registration Records - NOT Included
Information on voters who have been granted confidential voter registration status under Elections Code sections 2166, 2166.5, 2166.7, or 2166.8 is declared confidential, and will not be provided to any requestor, including those who are authorized to purchase voter registration information.
Pre-Registration Records - NOT Included
Voter registration information for individuals who pre-register to vote (16- and 17-year-olds) is not included in any voter registration information file because those individuals are minors and are not considered registered voters until they reach the age of 18.
Voter Registration Information File Application
To request voter registration information, the California Voter Registration File Request application (PDF) must be completed and submitted to the Secretary of State. Please read the information and guidelines included in the application. Follow all instructions prior to submission of the application to prevent delays in processing time or potential denial of the request.
Voter Registration Information File Application Review Process
California Voter Registration File Request applications will be processed in the order received.
Once received, requests can take 7-14 business days to review and process. The Secretary of State will determine whether the application is complete and whether state law permits the proposed use of the voter registration information.
Pertinent Statutes and Regulations
The California Voter Registration File Request application, the contents of the voter registration information file, and the review of each submitted application are governed by California statutes and regulations including Elections Code sections 2188 and 2194, Government Code section 7924.000, and California Code of Regulations sections 19001-19013.
Questions can be directed to:
VoteCal Help Desk