Voting in California
Voting in 2014 Primaries
Ballot access for major and minor party candidates
Absentee voting • Early voting
Open Primary • Closed Primary • Blanket Primary
Online voter registration in the 50 states
California uses a blanket primary system, meaning that all candidates compete in the same primary election, regardless of party affiliation. The two who receive the most votes then advance to the general election. The blanket primary system is an open primary, meaning that citizens do not need to register for a specific party to vote in the primary.
To vote in California, you must meet the following requirements:
- A United States citizen,
- A resident of California,
- 18 years of age or older on Election Day,
- Not in prison or in county jail (serving a state prison sentence or serving a term of more than one year in jail for a defined "low-level" felony), or on parole, post release community supervision, or post-sentencing probation for a felony conviction (for more information on the rights of people who have been incarcerated, please see the Secretary of State's Voting Guide for Currently or Formerly Incarcerated Californians), and
- Not found by a court to be mentally incompetent.
SB1016 (effective January 1, 2006) requires voters to provide their driver's license number or state identification number. If they do not have either, they may use the last four digits of their social security card. If they also do not have a social security card number, the state will assign a unique number which may be used for voting purposes.
When and where
You can also acquire a voter registration form at your county elections office, library, or U.S. Post Office. The form must then be postmarked or delivered in person at least 15 days prior to the election.
As of July 2014, California is one of the 15 states that have implemented online voter registration. Residents can register online at this website
Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a same-day voter registration bill on August 24, 2012. The bill allows for voters to register up to and on Election Day in California. However, it will not take effect until 2016.
Voting on election day
Voters are only required to show an ID at the polls the first time they vote if they registered to vote without providing their ID.
- See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times
- See also: Absentee voting
All voters are eligible to vote absentee in California. There are no special eligibility requirements for voting absentee.
To vote absentee, an absentee ballot application must be received by the election office at least 7 days prior to the election. A returned absentee ballot must then be received by the elections office by close of polls on election day.
Military and overseas voting
For full details, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program here.
- See also: Early voting
California is one of 33 states that has early voting with no specific requirements as to who can vote early. Early voting dates in California are determined by the counties. Look up your county information here. The average number of days prior to an election that voters can cast an early ballot is 21 days in states with a definitive starting date.
- California Secretary of State, "Voter Registration," accessed June 9, 2014
- California Secretary of State, "Chapter 7: Voter Identification Requirements," June 9, 2014
- Sierra Sun Times, "California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Same-Day Voter Registration Law," September 24, 2012
- California Secretary of State, "Elections FAQ," accessed January 3, 2014
- California Secretary of State Website, "Vote by Mail," accessed December 18, 2013