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

What key changes should voters know about?

Key changes to voting requirements in California:
  • California now conducts all elections primarily by mail. All active registered voters will receive a mail ballot.
Learn more by visiting the California Secretary of State's website or contacting your local election office.


Who can register to 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 serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony
  • not be currently found to be mentally incompetent to vote by a court

How do I vote in person?

Where can I vote on Election Day?

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

Can I vote early?

  • Yes, California does offer early voting. You can choose whether to vote on Election Day or during the early voting period, whichever is easier for you. This can be especially helpful if it would be difficult or not possible for you to vote on Election Day. Early voting locations may be less crowded, as well.
  • There are no dates available right now, please check back later.

What do I need 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 in a federal election 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.

Acceptable forms include:
  • copy of a recent utility bill
  • sample ballot booklet you received from your county elections office or another document sent to you by a government agency
  • US passport
  • driver license
  • official state identification card
  • 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.

How can I check the status of my ballot?

You can check the status of your ballot on California’s site.

Can I vote early?

Yes, California does offer early voting.
  • You can choose whether to vote on Election Day or during the early voting period, whichever is easier for you. This can be especially helpful if it would be difficult or not possible for you to vote on Election Day. Early voting locations may be less crowded, as well.

When can I vote early?

  • There are no dates available right now, please check back later.

Where can I vote early?

  • There are no locations available right now, please check back later.

What do I need 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 in a federal election 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.

Acceptable forms include:
  • copy of a recent utility bill
  • sample ballot booklet you received from your county elections office or another document sent to you by a government agency
  • US passport
  • driver license
  • official state identification card
  • 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.

How do I vote by mail?

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.

What should I do if I don’t get my ballot?

If you don’t receive your ballot in the mail, then contact your local election office.

How do I return my ballot?

  • Read the instructions carefully on how to mark and return your ballot. After you have voted, insert your ballot in the envelope provided, making sure you complete all required information on the envelope.
  • 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 local election office no later than 7 days after Election Day. USPS recommends that voters mail their completed ballots at least one week before the due date. Find a USPS location near you.
  • 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. Find your closest drop box on California's site.
  • 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.

What do I need to do if I’ve moved?

What’s on your ballot depends on where you live, so your voter registration is tied to your exact address. If you’ve moved, you need to re-register with your new address.

How can I check the status of my ballot?

You can check the status of your ballot on California’s site.

Can I register to vote on Election Day?

California does offer in person registration on Election Day.

How do I see what's on my ballot?

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

How do I get help registering to vote?

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!

How do I vote if I'm in the military or live overseas?

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 local election office 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 local election office may have questions, so please provide an email address or phone number where they can reach you.
  2. Send the application to your local election office.
  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 local election office 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 offers additional information on military and overseas voting in California. You can also call 1-800-438-VOTE (8683) or email vote@fvap.gov

How can I check my 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.

How do I contact my state election office?


Which election office should I contact?

  • In California, your local election office runs the elections in your area. They can help you with questions about registering to vote, voting by mail, and local elections.
  • The Secretary of State oversees elections and election administration in California. They can help you with questions about voting in your state, election security, or issues you might have at the polls. If you have concerns about voter intimidation, reach out immediately.

How do I contact my local election office?

Visit your state’s site to find your local election office.

Can I trust this information?

These guides are researched, written, and updated by Democracy Works, a non-partisan 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization, to inform voters via partners including Google and TurboVote. The information in these guides originates from official state sources and is reviewed by state election offices. The guides also link to authoritative state and local resources to provide additional information.

How do I report an issue with the information provided on this page?

Email htv@democracy.works with questions, concerns or feedback about the voting information on this page.