Voting in California

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California permits online voter registration, early voting and no-excuse absentee voting. Voters in California are only required to present photo identification on their first time at the polls if the registered to vote without one.

For full information about voting in California, contact the state election agency.


California utilizes 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 be the following:[1]

  • A United States citizen,
  • A resident of California,
  • 18 years of age or older on Election Day,
  • Not in prison, on parole, serving a state prison sentence in county jail, serving a sentence for a felony pursuant to subdivision (h) of Penal Code section 1170, or on post release community supervision (for more information on the rights of people who have been incarcerated, please see the Secretary of State's Voting Rights for Californians with Criminal Convictions or Detained in Jail or Prison), and
  • Not found by a court to be mentally incompetent.[2]

—California Secretary of State

SB1016 (effective January 1, 2006) requires voters to provide their driver's license number or state identification number to register to vote. 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 voter registration.[3]

When and where

The deadline for voter registration is currently 15 days prior to the election. You can fill out a voter registration form online here.[1]

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.

Online registration

See also: Online voter registration in the 50 states

As of April 2015, California is one of 20 states that have implemented full online voter registration. Residents can register online at this website.

2012 developments

Governor Jerry Brown (D) 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.[4]

Voting on Election Day

Voter identification

See also: Voter identification laws by state

Every voter is required to provide a driver's license number or state identification number. If a voter does not have a driver's license or state ID, he or she may use the last four digits of his or her Social Security number. If the voter does not have a Social Security number, the state will assign a unique number which may be used for voting purposes.

Poll times

See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times

All polls in California are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time.[5]

Absentee voting

See also: Absentee voting


All voters are eligible to vote absentee in California. There are no special eligibility requirements for voting absentee.[6]


To vote absentee, an absentee ballot application must be received by the election office at least seven days prior to the election. An absentee ballot must then be returned in person to the elections office by close of polls on Election Day, or by mail postmarked no later than Election Day and received no more than three days after Election Day.[6]

Military and overseas voting

For full details regarding military and overseas voting, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

Early voting

See also: Early voting

California is one of 34 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 nationwide 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.

Election policy ballot measures

Voting on
elections and campaigns
Ballot measures
By state
By year
Not on ballot
See also: Elections and campaigns on the ballot and List of California ballot measures

Ballotpedia has tracked the following ballot measures relating to election and campaign policy in California.

  1. California Age to Vote in Primary Amendment (2016)
  2. California Fair Political Practices Commission
  3. California Non-Profit Donor Disclosure Initiative (2014)
  4. California Open Presidential Primaries (2014)
  5. California Proposition 1, Direct Primary Law (October 1915)
  6. California Proposition 10, Ban on Poll Taxes (1914)
  7. California Proposition 10, Disqualification of Some Voters (1974)
  8. California Proposition 10, Majority Vote Required to Change Borough Boundaries (1918)
  9. California Proposition 11, Imposition of a Poll Tax (1920)
  10. California Proposition 12, Voting Eligibility Rules for "Infamous Crime" Felons (1954)
  11. California Proposition 13, Aliens Ineligible for Citizenship Shall Not Vote (1926)
  12. California Proposition 13, Levy of Poll Tax (1924)
  13. California Proposition 13, Property Owners Only Allowed to Vote on Bond Propositions (1914)
  14. California Proposition 13, the "Anti-Cross-Filing Initiative" (1952)
  15. California Proposition 131, Ethics, Term Limits and Campaign Finance Act (1990)
  16. California Proposition 136, Taxpayers Right-to-Vote Act (1990)
  17. California Proposition 137, Rules Governing Initiatives (1990)
  18. California Proposition 14, Rules for Absentee Voting (1914)
  19. California Proposition 14, Top Two Primaries Act (June 2010)
  20. California Proposition 14, Voter Registration (1930)
  21. California Proposition 15, Older Voters Relieved of Educational Requirement (1966)
  22. California Proposition 15, Public Funding of Some Elections (June 2010)
  23. California Proposition 16, Repeal of the Educational Poll Tax (1946)
  24. California Proposition 16, Supermajority Vote Required to Create a Community Choice Aggregator (June 2010)
  25. California Proposition 168, Elections on Low-Rent Housing Projects (1993)
  26. California Proposition 17, Absentee Voting Allowed (1920)
  27. California Proposition 17, Rules for Adopting City Charters (1932)
  28. California Proposition 17, Timing of Elections on Initiatives (1938)
  29. California Proposition 18, Absentee Ballot Rights (1928)
  30. California Proposition 18, Rules for Adopting County Charters (1932)
  31. California Proposition 18, Voting Rules for Electors Who Recently Moved (1924)
  32. California Proposition 19, City Charter Provisions for Nomination and Election of Officers (1932)
  33. California Proposition 198, the Open Primary Act (1996)
  34. California Proposition 2, Increase in Length of State Assembly Term (1960)
  35. California Proposition 2, Laws Regarding the Form of the Ballot (October 1915)
  36. California Proposition 20, Congressional Redistricting (2010)
  37. California Proposition 20, County Charter Provisions for Nomination and Election of Officers (1932)
  38. California Proposition 20, Political Candidates Who Defame Their Opponents (1984)
  39. California Proposition 208, Campaign Contribution and Spending Limits (1996)
  40. California Proposition 21, Elections of Superior Court Judges (1962)
  41. California Proposition 212, Campaign Spending and Contribution Limits (1996)
  42. California Proposition 219, Uniform Application of Ballot Measures (1998)
  43. California Proposition 22, Absentee Voting Allowed (1922)
  44. California Proposition 22, Municipal Charter Amendment Elections (1930)
  45. California Proposition 226, the "Paycheck Protection" Initiative (1998)
  46. California Proposition 23, Election at Primary (1926)
  47. California Proposition 23, Elections Settled by Plurality of Votes (1914)
  48. California Proposition 23, the "None of the Above" Act (2000)
  49. California Proposition 25, Campaign Contribution Limits (2000)
  50. California Proposition 25, Residency Requirement for Voting Eligibility (1930)
  51. California Proposition 26, Approval of Local School Bonds by Majority Vote (2000)
  52. California Proposition 27, Elimination of Citizen Redistricting Commission (2010)
  53. California Proposition 3, the Closed Primaries Act (1998)
  54. California Proposition 32, Direct Election of U.S. Senators (1914)
  55. California Proposition 32, the "Paycheck Protection" Initiative (2012)
  56. California Proposition 34, Limits on Campaign Contributions (2000)
  57. California Proposition 4, Absentee Voting for Those in Military Service (1918)
  58. California Proposition 4, Charter Provisions Governing Election of Local Officials (June 1978)
  59. California Proposition 4, Election Returns for Governor and Lieutenant Governor (1940)
  60. California Proposition 4, Eligibility to Vote in the Event of a Pre-Election Move (1950)
  61. California Proposition 4, Low-Rent Housing Amendment (June 1980)
  62. California Proposition 4, Open Presidential Primary (June 1972)
  63. California Proposition 4, the Direct Primary Law Referendum (1916)
  64. California Proposition 40, Campaign Contribution Limitations (1984)
  65. California Proposition 41, Bonds for Modern Voting Equipment (March 2002)
  66. California Proposition 43, Constitutional Right to Have One's Vote Counted (March 2002)
  67. California Proposition 49, Political Parties Forbidden to Endorse Non-Partisan Candidates (1986)
  68. California Proposition 52, Election Day Voter Registration (2002)
  69. California Proposition 59, Elections of County District Attorneys (1986)
  70. California Proposition 6, Elected County Sheriffs (June 1978)
  71. California Proposition 6, Publication of State Bond Proposals (1958)
  72. California Proposition 6, Selection of State and County Boards of Education (June 1970)
  73. California Proposition 6, Voting Rights of Naturalized Citizens (June 1972)
  74. California Proposition 60, Political Party Election Rights Act (2004)
  75. California Proposition 62, "Modified Blanket" Primaries Act (2004)
  76. California Proposition 62, Voter Approval of Local Taxes (1986)
  77. California Proposition 66, Elected County Assessors (June 1988)
  78. California Proposition 68, Campaign Spending Limits (June 1988)
  79. California Proposition 7, Ballot Designation of Partisan Affiliations (1952)
  80. California Proposition 7, County Boards of Education (1946)
  81. California Proposition 7, Day of Precinct Residence Required for Voting Eligibility (1948)
  82. California Proposition 7, Open Presidential Primaries (1972)
  83. California Proposition 73, Limits on Campaign Donations (June 1988)
  84. California Proposition 77, Rules Governing Legislative Redistricting (2005)
  85. California Proposition 8, Felons Not Allowed to Vote While Serving Sentence (1960)
  86. California Proposition 8, Registration of Voters (1936)
  87. California Proposition 8, Residency Requirement for Casting a Presidential Vote (1958)
  88. California Proposition 8, Superior Court Judicial Elections (1964)
  89. California Proposition 8, Superior Court Judicial Vacancies (1948)
  90. California Proposition 89, Public Funding for Political Campaigns (2006)
  91. California Proposition 9, Creation of the Fair Political Practices Commission (June 1974)
  92. California Public Vote on Bonds Initiative (2016)

Recent news

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See also

Elections in California

External links