What to know about voting in California for the Nov. 8 general election
- Registering to vote
- Help with voting
- How to vote
- Special circumstances
- Ballot incidents
- More help and resources
How do I register to vote?
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.
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.
You’ll need to re-register to vote.
CalMatters is nonpartisan and nonprofit.
We are dedicated to keeping Californians informed on critical state news. We can’t do that without support from people like you.
What if I need help with voting?
The statewide voter information guide will be available online on Sept. 9. The Secretary of State’s office will mail it to voters between Sept. 29 and Oct. 18. County election offices will mail their local guides during the same time. Voter guides will be available in audio and large-print.
How do I vote?
Yes. In September 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that makes vote-by-mail ballots permanent for every registered voter.
Counties will begin mailing ballots by Oct. 10.
- 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
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.
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.
You’ll also be voting on seven ballot measures.
Six parties qualified for the primary: Democratic, Republican, American Independent, Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom. Some candidates are also running with no party preference.
Go online then select “My Voter Status” to check if your vote was counted and if not, what the issue was.
What if I have special circumstances?
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.
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.
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.
Yes. In a general election in California, you can vote for any candidate regardless of how you’re registered. You are only bound to vote for candidates within your party in a presidential primary (so not until 2024).
What if I make a mistake on my ballot?
The safest bet is to get a new ballot. Contact your county elections office, or take your ballot to your local polling place or voting center, when they open, and request a replacement. Remember to bring the old ballot – otherwise you won’t be able to vote in person.
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.
Contact your county elections office.
Don’t worry – the county will pass it on to the correct elections office.
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.