howtovote logo
How to
in
California mails a ballot to every registered voter a few weeks before the election. Keep an eye on the mailbox, and be sure to mail it back or drop it in a drop-box before Election Day! You can also vote in person if you prefer to do so. California offers early voting.

Who can vote

To register in California you must:
  • be a United States citizen
  • be a resident of California
  • be at least 18 years old or older on Election Day
  • not be currently in state or federal prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony
  • not be currently found to be mentally incompetent to vote by a court
  • You can find more information on voting rights restoration here

Vote in person

Due to COVID-19, in-person services may have limited availability. Contact your local election office to confirm. See CDC guidance on safe in-person voting.

Vote on Election Day

Voters in California can look up where to vote on California's site.

Vote early

California does offer early voting. There are no dates available right now, please check back later.

What to bring

  • If you choose to vote in person and you’ve voted in California before, you don’t need to show ID.
  • If you’re a first time voter who registered by mail, and didn’t include your driver’s license number, California ID number, or the last 4 digits of your Social Security number on your registration, you may be asked to provide ID when you vote. If voting by mail, send a photocopy of your personal identification to your county elections official. If you are requesting a vote-by-mail ballot using the Vote-by-Mail Ballot Application, you can send a photocopy of your personal identification along with your application. If you do not do this prior to voting, you will be contacted by your county elections official upon receipt of your voted ballot to request the required proof of identity. If voting in person, you may be asked to provide an acceptable form of identification prior to receiving your ballot. Acceptable forms include: a copy of a recent utility bill, the sample ballot booklet you received from your county elections office or another document sent to you by a government agency, a US passport, driver license, official state identification card, or student identification card showing your name and photograph.
  • Voters without ID: If you are unable to provide ID, you will be able to vote a provisional ballot.
  • For more information, please visit VoteRiders.

Vote by mail

  1. Fill out your ballot
  2. After you have voted, insert your ballot in the envelope provided, making sure you complete all required information on the envelope.
  3. You may return your voted ballot by mail, in person, or to a drop box
    • If you are returning your ballot by mail, it must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 17 days after Election Day.
    • If you are returning your ballot in person or dropping it in a drop box, it must be delivered no later than the close of polls at 8:00 p.m. on election day.
    • Anyone may return your ballot for you, as long as they do not get paid on a per ballot basis. In order for your ballot to be counted, you must fill out the authorization section found on the outside of your ballot envelope.

Election Day registration

California does offer registration on Election Day.

See what's on the ballot

Learn more about what will be on your ballot by visiting Ballotpedia.

Get step-by-step help

TurboVote can help you start the absentee/mail-in ballot request process, send you election reminders, and more. If you’d like more help planning how to vote, we can walk you through the process!

Military and overseas voters

Active-duty military, their families, and overseas citizens can register to vote and request their absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). The FPCA process is done by mail, but your state may offer other options to request and return ballots. Please contact your election official for more information about delivery and return methods, including email, fax, and state online portals. To follow the FPCA process:
  1. Fill out the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), or download a copy. Your election official may have questions, so please provide an email address or phone number where they can reach you.
  2. Send the application to your election official.
  3. It is never too early to submit an FPCA! Please do so as soon as possible. .
  4. Please fill out and send back your ballot as soon as you receive it.
  5. States begin mailing absentee ballots at least 45 days before Election Day. If you haven't received your ballot by 30 days before Election Day, contact your local election office.
If after submitting your FPCA, your ballot does not arrive, contact your election official first. Then: 
  • You can still vote using the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Print, sign, and mail your FWAB to your local election office.
  • If you mail a FWAB and then receive your regular absentee ballot, you should complete and mail your absentee ballot also. Election officials will ensure that only one ballot is counted.The Federal Voting Assistance Program
FVAP.gov offers additional information on military and overseas voting in California. You can also call 1-800-438-VOTE or email vote@fvap.gov

Check your voter registration status

You can look up your voter registration record and verify that your information is correct using California's voter registration lookup tool.

Election contact information for California

Address:
Secretary of State
1500 11th Street, 5th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone Number:
(916) 657-2166

Do you have feedback on the content you see here? From an incorrect date to insight on a rule change, we’d love to hear from you! Please fill out this form to share with us. Thank you!