California | Voting Guide

 
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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: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration/same-day-reg/.


2021

  • Gubernatorial Recall Election Registration Deadline: August 30

  • Gubernatorial Recall Election: September 15

 
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Official Election Websites
 
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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. If you are registered in one locaion, you cannot register in another location just bevause you want to participate in an election in the second location. Generally, voter registration is based on where you identify as your current address.


 
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What Type of ID Do I Need to Register?

California's online and paper voter registration forms ask for a California driver's license or ID number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

 
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What Type of ID Do I Need to Vote?

You do not need to provide an ID to vote in California. 

 
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Where Do I Vote?

Make a plan. Check your voter registration and absentee ballot status, look up your voting site and hours at: www.sos.ca.gov/elections/polling-place

 
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How Can I Vote?

2021

  • Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, California election officials will send all registered voters a mail ballot

  • If you will be away from the address associated with your voter registration during the election period, you must submit a vote-by-mail application to your county election officials no later than 7 days before Election Day

  • For all elections held prior to January 1, 2022, ballots returned by mail must be postmarked before or on Election Day and receivedby the 7th day following Election Day

  • For all elections held prior to January 1, 2022, several counties will operate vote centers beginning 10 days before Election Day and ending 4 days before Election Day. For more information, contact your county's election officials.  


By Mail

Any registered voter may vote by mail in California without an excuse. In most counties, voters must request to cast a mail-in ballot. Applications for a mail-in ballot must be received by your county election officials no later than 7 days before Election Day.


  • Track your absentee ballot at https://california.ballottrax.net/voter/

  • Note: Some counties automatically mail voters their ballots before Election Day. Contact your county election officials to determine if your county uses this procedure.


Completed vote-by-mail ballots must be returned by mail or postmarked on or before Election Day and received within three days of the election. Vote-by-mail ballots returned in person must be returned by the close of polls on Election Day. You can return your ballot in-person at your county's election office, a polling place, or a designated drop box in your county. Find a list of polling places and drop box locations here: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voters-choice-act/vca-voting-locations

 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.



Early In-Person

Some counties permit 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.


Election Day

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.

 
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Common Questions/Concerns

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


Tuition Status

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 June 2021