Voting FAQ

What you need to know about the June 7 primary

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Registering to vote

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How do I check if I’m registered?

You can check on the Secretary of State’s website: You’ll need to enter your name, date of birth and either your California driver license or identification card number, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you don’t have those available, contact your county elections office or the Secretary of State via email or phone at (800) 345-8683.

If you’ve changed your name since the last time you voted, or if you moved and didn’t notify the Department of Motor Vehicles or U.S. Postal Service, you may have to register again. If you haven’t voted in several consecutive general elections, your registration may have been canceled.

How do I register to vote?

You can do so online here. You’ll need the same information as above.

If DMV has your signature on file, you’ll be able to complete the process online. If not, you’ll need to print, sign and mail your completed application to your county elections office. You can also pick up a paper application at elections offices, any DMV office and at many post offices, public libraries and government offices. You’ll be contacted when your application is approved, or if you need to provide more information.

What happens if I miss the voter registration deadline?

The last day to register online is May 23 for the primary election. If you are registering or re-registering less than 15 days before June 7, you must complete same-day voter registration and request your ballot in person at your county elections office or polling location.

How do I change my political party if I’m already registered?

You’ll need to re-register to vote.

Help with voting

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What if I need voter information in a different language?

The Secretary of State’s office has voter instructions in the following languages: Spanish, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese. Your county elections website may have additional languages. 

When will I receive my voter guide?

The statewide voter information guide is available online. The Secretary of State’s office will mail it to voters between April 28 and May 17. County election offices will mail their local guides during the same time. Voter guides are available in audio and large-print.

How to vote

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Does everyone get a ballot in the mail?

Yes. Last September, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that makes vote-by-mail ballots permanent for every registered voter. 

When will I receive my mail-in-ballot?

Counties will begin mailing ballots by May 9. 

How do I return my vote-by-mail ballot?

  • Mail it to your county elections official
  • Drop it off at a ballot drop box or location or at a polling location anywhere in the state
  • You can also ask someone you trust to return your ballot for you, but the Secretary of State’s office cautions that the person can only do so if they don’t get paid by the ballot

Can I vote in person? How do I find my polling place or vote center?

Yes. You can find out where to vote in California in any of the following ways: 

  • Check voterstatus.sos.ca.gov 
  • Text “VOTE” to GOVOTE (468-8683)
  • Call the Secretary of State’s voter hotline at (800) 345-VOTE 
  • Check the back of your county Voter Information Guide, or contact your county elections office

If you live in one of 26 counties, you’ll have increased options for voting, such as having as many as 10 days of-in-person voting.

What am I voting on?

Eight statewide offices: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller, treasurer, attorney general, insurance commissioner and superintendent of public instruction, plus Board of Equalization. Also, U.S. House member, state senator (depending on your district) and state Assemblymember. The U.S. Senate race will appear twice on your ballot – once for the term that ends Jan. 3, 2023 and once for the full term that expires Jan. 3, 2029. And local offices, depending where you live.

Which parties are on the ballot?

Six parties have qualified for the primary: Democratic, Republican, American Independent, Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom. Some candidates are also running with no party preference.

How can I track my ballot?

Go online then select “My Voter Status” to check if your vote was counted and if not, what the issue was.

Special circumstances

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I’m in the military, living abroad or out of state temporarily. How do I vote?

If you know where you’ll be, you can re-register and request a special absentee ballot, and you can choose if you want your ballot mailed, faxed or emailed to you. 

Will I get my ballot if my mail is being forwarded?

No, that’s not allowed. So if you plan to be out of state, make sure your county has your new address on file. If you suspect the ballot went to your California address, contact your county registrar’s office as soon as possible.

Can I vote if I don’t have a permanent address?

Yes. Under California law, whether you are unhoused, or in between residences for any reason, you can still use your last residence address. You can also use a business address, if that’s where you live.

If you don’t have a specific street location to fill out on your voter registration card, you can provide the city, zip code and closest intersecting cross-streets. This may be a public camp or park.

You must also provide a current mailing address where you can receive your voting materials, such as a P.O. box. The United States Postal Service offers general delivery mail services to customers with no fixed address and no identification.

Can I vote for a candidate not in my political party?

The short answer: Yes. In 2010, California voters enacted the top two open primary system, which means all voters can vote for any candidate of any party in statewide, congressional and legislative contests. The top two vote-getters proceed to the general election, even if they represent the same party.

Ballot incidents

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What if I make a mistake on my ballot?

The safest bet is to get a new ballot. Take your ballot to your local polling place or voting center and request a replacement. Remember to bring the old ballot – otherwise you won’t be able to vote in person.

What if the signature on my ballot doesn’t match the one on file?

County election officials check the signatures on the return envelope against signatures on your voter registration card to make sure no one tries to improperly cast your ballot. It still remains confidential – the ballot is separated from the envelope before it is counted.

Voters with ballots with missing signatures or ones that don’t compare accurately are notified and given an opportunity to correct the problem before the election is certified.

What happens if I don’t receive my ballot?

Contact your county elections office.

Help! I dropped off my ballot to a drop box in the wrong county.

Don’t worry – the county will pass it on to the correct elections office.

I forgot to detach the stub from my ballot. Can I open the sealed envelope and reseal it myself?

You can, but the Secretary of State’s office recommends contacting your local county elections office. They’ll ultimately be processing your ballot and they can offer the best guidance on whether you should reopen it or just leave the stub attached.

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