California Voting Requirements & Information

U.S. Vote Foundation’s California Voting Requirements and Information directory informs you of California voting rules and options. It focuses on California-specific voting guidelines and information for all voters, including domestic, overseas, and military voters. Here you can find out about California voter eligibility, voter ID requirements, registration, absentee and early voting options, ways to transmit voting documents and links to specific-California voting tools. It's an all-in-one California voting resource.

Upcoming Election Dates & Deadlines

California Federal and State Elections

Tue Mar 5, 2024 - California Presidential Primary

Voter Registration Deadline

  • Received by
    Tue Feb 20, 2024
  • Same Day Registration & Voting
    From Wed Feb 21, 2024 to Tue Mar 5, 2024

Absentee Ballot Request Deadline

Tue Feb 27, 2024

Absentee Ballot Return Deadline

  • Received by
    Tue Mar 5, 2024
  • Postmarked On or Before Election Day and Received by
    Tue Mar 12, 2024

Early Voting Available

In-person Absentee Voting
From Mon Feb 5, 2024 to Tue Mar 5, 2024

Tue Nov 5, 2024 - California General Election

Voter Registration Deadline

  • Received by
    Mon Oct 21, 2024
  • Same Day Registration & Voting
    From Tue Oct 22, 2024 to Tue Nov 5, 2024

Absentee Ballot Request Deadline

Tue Oct 29, 2024

Absentee Ballot Return Deadline

  • Received by
    Tue Nov 5, 2024
  • Postmarked On or Before Election Day and Received by
    Tue Nov 12, 2024

Early Voting Available

In-person Absentee Voting
From Tue Oct 8, 2024 to Tue Nov 5, 2024

What's On My Ballot? Go to Sample Ballot Lookup for candidate names and to learn of any ballot measures and proposed state constitutional amendments on your ballot.

General Information

Registration

You can register to vote or update your registration information:

  • online
  • by mail
  • in person at your elections office
  • at some public assistance offices and motor vehicle offices
  • at public libraries
  • at polling locations on Election Day

All registered voters will receive mail-in ballots. If you register to vote within 29 days of an election, 5 days after you register an election official will mail you your ballot.

People who are unhoused can still register and vote. In the "home address" section of the registration form, homeless voters can describe where they spend most of their time, including cross streets and landmarks.

Election Day Voting

Polling places are open from 7am to 8pm on Election Day. You can return a mail ballot in person to any polling place or drop box within the state as well as at the office of your county elections official. Note that certain elections, such as stand-alone municipal elections, are conducted entirely by-mail.

Find my polling place

Early Voting

Any registered voter can go to a county elections office in person to receive a vote-by-mail ballot to vote prior to and on Election Day, but you will also have a mail-in ballot sent to you starting 29 days before the election. Some counties also offer in-person voting at vote centers and other locations before Election Day. You may also drop your ballot in any voting drop box/drop location in the state. New drop boxes have been added at UC and CSU campuses in 2022.

Absentee Voting

California offers permanent vote-by-mail status for any registered voter.

Please visit the US Vote Disability Voting Guide to see accommodations for the registration and voting process.

Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible to vote in California if you:

  • Are a U.S. citizen
  • Are a resident of California
  • Are at least 18 years old by Election Day

You are NOT eligible to vote in California if:

  • You are in prison for a felony conviction.
  • A judge has specifically ruled that you are not able to vote.

You can vote if you are currently incarcerated serving a felony jail sentence, and were not sentenced to prison time.

Restorative Requirements

  • If you have completed a felony prison sentence, even if you are still on parole or probation, then you are immediately eligible to register to vote.

You may preregister to vote in California

  • At the age 16

If you are a student, you are eligible to vote in California if:

  • You reside in California but are attending college in another state
  • You reside in another state but attend college in California

Identification Requirements

Voter Registration

To register to vote in California you should provide:

  • Your California Driver's License or State non-driver ID Number
  • Last Four Digits of your Social Security Number

If you are registering to vote for the first time by mail, you will need to provide a copy of a valid ID. Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • Valid Photo ID
  • Utility Bill, Bank Statement, Government Check, or Paycheck that Shows your current name and address
  • Government Issued Document that shows your current name and address

You can alternatively show one of these documents when you vote to complete your registration.

Voting In-Person

If you registered to vote in California, you may be required to present valid photo ID if you are voting for the first time or your registration is incomplete. You can use any ID from this list:

  • Valid US Passport
  • Insurance Plan ID Card
  • Public Housing ID Card
  • Health Club ID Card
  • Valid Employee ID
  • Valid California Driver's License
  • Valid Student ID
  • Out of State Driver's License or Non-driver ID
  • Valid Military ID
  • Debit or Credit Card
  • Valid California Issued ID
  • Valid Commercial ID

If you don't have any of these ID's, please look at the list of alternative ID's in California.

If you do not have an ID from the above list, in California additional, acceptable forms of ID include:

  • Public Transportation Authority Senior Discounted Fare ID Card
  • Certificate of Vehicle Ownership
  • Discharge Certificates, Pardons or other Similar Documents Issued to you by a Government Agency
  • Lease or rental statement or agreement Issued by a Government Agency
  • Government Check
  • Sample Ballot mailed to you
  • Voter notification or confirmation card
  • Current Utility Bill
  • ID Issued by a Government Disability Agency
  • Insurance Plan or Discount Drug Plan Card Issued by a Government Agency
  • Property Tax Statement
  • A Government Issued Document that shows your Current Name and Address
  • Bank Statement
  • Other Official Elections Document
  • Valid California Vehicle Registration
  • University Tuition Bill Issued by a Government Agency
  • Identification Documents Issued by Government Homeless Shelters or Other Facilities
  • Government Paycheck
  • Drug prescription Issued by a Government Doctor or Health Care Provider

Your ID documents must show your Current Name and Address and be no older than the Date of the last Election.

Voter Materials Transmission Options

Domestic Voter

In-Person

Mail

Fax

Email

Online

Voter Registration
Absentee Ballot Request
Blank Ballot To Voter
Voted-Absentee Ballot Return

State Lookup Tools – Am I Registered?

State Elections Website

Can I Register to Vote Online?

Where is my Ballot Drop Box?

Where are my Early Voting Locations?

Where is my Overseas or Military Ballot?

Upcoming Election Dates & Deadlines

California Federal and State Elections

Tue Mar 5, 2024 - California Presidential Primary

Voter Registration Deadline

Postmarked by
Tue Feb 20, 2024

Absentee Ballot Request Deadline

Received by
Tue Feb 27, 2024

Absentee Ballot Return Deadline

  • Fax by
    Tue Mar 5, 2024 8:00PM PST
  • Postmarked On or Before Election Day and Received by
    Tue Mar 12, 2024

Tue Nov 5, 2024 - California General Election

Voter Registration Deadline

Postmarked by
Mon Oct 21, 2024

Absentee Ballot Request Deadline

Received by
Tue Oct 29, 2024

Absentee Ballot Return Deadline

  • Fax by
    Tue Nov 5, 2024 8:00PM
  • Postmarked On or Before Election Day and Received by
    Tue Nov 12, 2024

Eligibility Requirements

Overseas Voters

U.S. citizens living abroad have the right to vote as absentee voters, provided they are eligible to vote in their state. If you are living outside of the U.S. permanently, indefinitely, or temporarily, your voting rights stay with you, even if you never voted when you lived in the U.S. To vote from overseas:

  • Complete and send an overseas voter registration/ballot request form to your election office in the U.S. This is one specific form that will register you as an overseas voter and request your absentee ballot – simultaneously.

Many states allow children who were born overseas, but never lived in the U.S., to use their U.S. parents’ last residence address to register.

Military Voters

Service members and their eligible family members living outside their voting jurisdiction (within or outside the U.S.) are able to vote as absentee voters.

  • If you are a service member, or an eligible family member, there is a single form to file for both voter registration and ballot request. It is often called the “Federal Post Card Application” or the FPCA form. This form must be re-filed with your election office each time you change location.

To vote as a service member or eligible family member:

  • Complete and send a voter registration/ballot request form “FPCA” to your election office in the U.S. It is the same form in all states.

Identification Requirements

Voting Overseas

U.S. citizens living overseas may register and request a ballot using the overseas voter registration/ballot request form. You will have the following identification options when completing the form:

  • Last 4 Digits of your Social Security Number
  • U.S. State or Territory or District Issued ID
  • Option to Indicate that you do not have the Requested ID

Voting Military

Service members and their dependents may register and request a ballot using the federal voter registration/ballot request form ("FPCA"). You will have the following identification options when completing the form:

  • Last 4 Digits of your Social Security Number
  • U.S. State or Territory or District Issued ID
  • Option to Indicate that you do not have the Requested ID

Voter Materials Transmission Options

Overseas Voter

In-Person

Mail

Fax

Email

Online

Voter Registration
Absentee Ballot Request
Blank Ballot To Voter
Voted-Absentee Ballot Return

Military Voter

In-Person

Mail

Fax

Email

Online

Voter Registration
Absentee Ballot Request
Blank Ballot To Voter
Voted-Absentee Ballot Return

State Lookup Tools – Am I Registered?

State Elections Website

Can I Register to Vote Online?

Where is my Ballot Drop Box?

Where are my Early Voting Locations?

Where is my Overseas or Military Ballot?