California | Voting Guide
Registration Deadlines and Election Dates
Voter Registration Deadline: 15 days before Election Day
Conditional voter registration is also available to eligible citizens who miss the registration deadline. For more information, visit
Primary Election Registration Deadline: Online or postmarked by February 17
Primary Election: March 3
General Election Registration Deadline: October 19
General Election: November 3
Official Election Websites
Register at School or Home
Students have a choice about where to register to vote.
Students attending college may register at their campus address or choose to remain registered or register at their permanent or home address.
You may only be registered and vote in one location.
What Type of ID Do I Need to Register?
California’s voter registration form asks for your California driver’s license or ID number, or the last four digits of your Social Security Number. Be sure to provide one of these numbers if you have it.
What Type of ID Do I Need to Vote?
You do not need to provide an ID to vote in California. For first time voters who did not provide a driver’s license number, state-issued ID number, or the last four digits of their Social Security number on their registration application, the Secretary of State’s office recommends bringing ID with you when you go to vote. Such ID can include, but is not limited to:
A California driver’s license
A California identification card
A copy of a recent utility bill
The county Voter Information Guide sent to you by your county elections office
Another document sent to you by a government agency
Where Do I Vote?
Make a plan. Look up your voting site and hours at: www.sos.ca.gov/elections/polling-place
How Can I Vote?
Any registered voter may vote by mail in California without an excuse. In most counties, to vote by mail you must fill out and sign a Vote-By-Mail Ballot Application. Applications for a mail-in ballot sent by mail must be received by your county election official no later than seven days before the election. Any time after that, you must apply in person at your county elections office to receive a vote-by-mail ballot for that election.
You can find a Vote-By-Mail Ballot Application in your county Voter Information Guide. A downloadable version is also available at https://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/vote-by-mail/pdf/vote-by-mail-application.pdf.
Note: Some counties automatically mail voters their ballots before Election Day. Contact your county election officials to determine if your county employs this procedure.
Completed vote-by-mail ballots must be returned in person by the close of polls on Election Day, or, if mailed, postmarked on or before Election Day and received within three days of the election.
Some counties permits voters to cast their ballots in person before Election Day.
You may wish to contact your county election officials to determine if your county offers early in-person voting. Contact information for county election official is available at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/county-elections-offices
Voting sites will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you are in line by the closing time, then you have a right to vote.
Registering to Vote Does Not Affect Your:
Federal Financial Aid
Where you register to vote will not affect federal financial aid such as Pell Grants, Perkins or Stafford loans, or your dependency status for FAFSA
Status as a Dependent on Your Parents’ Taxes
Being registered to vote at a different address from your parents does not prevent them from claiming you as a dependent on their taxes
Being deemed out-of-state for tuition purposes does not prevent you from choosing to register to vote in your campus community
Will registering to vote in California affect my driver’s license or car registration?
Registering to vote in California does not necessarily change your driver’s license and motor vehicle registration. However, as a full–time student in California, you may have to make these changes regardless of whether you register to vote in California. For more information, you may wish to contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Fair Elections Center and Campus Vote Project intend the information contained herein to be used only as a general guide. This document should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a licensed California professional.
Last updated April 2020