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, a vote center, or a satellite office designated by your county elections official during the 14 days prior to, and including Election Day to conditionally register to vote and vote a provisional ballot. This process is called Same Day 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.
Qualifications to Register to Vote
To register to vote in California, you must be:
- A United States citizen and a resident of California (for information on voters in the military or overseas, please see Military and Overseas Voters),
- 18 years old or older on Election Day,
- Not currently serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony (for more information, please see Voting Rights Restored: Persons with a Prior Felony Conviction), and
- Not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court (for more information, please see Voting Rights: Persons Subject to Conservatorship).
Qualifications to Pre-register to Vote
To pre-register to vote in California, you must:
- Be 16 or 17 years old, and
- Meet all of the other eligibility requirements to vote.
You will automatically be registered to vote on your 18th birthday.
How do you register to vote by the deadline?
- Go to online voter registration to complete an application, or
- Register to vote using a paper voter registration application.
To Obtain a Paper Voter Registration Application
If you would like to register using a paper voter registration application, you can pick one up at your county elections office, library, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, or U.S. post office. It is important that your voter registration application be filled out completely and be postmarked or hand-delivered to your county elections office at least 15 days before the election.
To request a paper voter registration application be mailed to you, please call (800) 345-VOTE(8683) or email Elections Division staff.
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.
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. or more information, please refer to A New Citizen’s Guide to Voting (PDF). Contact your county elections office for more information
Same Day Voter Registration (Conditional Voter Registration)
In elections conducted by your county elections official, you can “conditionally” register and vote at your county elections office after the 15-day voter registration deadline. For more information please go to Same Day Voter Registration.
College Students and Voters Living Abroad
If you are a Californian living away from home while attending a college, trade school or technical school, or a voter living temporarily outside the United States, please see College Students and Voters Living Abroad.
Are You Already Registered to Vote?
To find out if you are currently registered to vote, visit Check Status of Your Voter Registration.
Re-register to vote when:
- You change your residence address or mailing address,
- You change your name, or
- You change your political party choice.
As a California voter, be aware that local elections in some areas are held on dates that do not coincide with statewide election dates. The 15-day close of registration deadline for these local elections varies depending on the actual date of the election. If you need to know a deadline for a local election, contact your county elections office or visit County Administered Elections.
How to Cancel My Registration
If you are currently registered to vote in California and would like to cancel your voter registration, you can complete the California Voter Registration Cancellation Request Form (PDF) and submit it to your county elections office. If you have any questions, you can contact your county elections office or the Secretary of State's Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683).