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Voting in California

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This page has information relating to voting in California. For full information contact your state election agency.


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. This also means the primary 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:[1]

  • 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.[2]

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 February 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 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.[3]

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.

Poll times

See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times

All polls in California are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM Pacific Time.[4]

Absentee voting


All voters are eligible to vote absentee in California. There are no special eligibility requirements for voting absentee.[5]


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.[5]

Military and overseas voting

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

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.

See also

External links