How to Vote in California

FT Contributor
A man putting a ballot in a box with the California state flag in the background.
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How to Register to Vote in California

If you’ve never voted before, you’ll need to register first. California recommends you register at least 15 days before the election. The Presidential election is on November 3, 2020. If you’re registering in advance, the fastest way to do it is by registering online. You’ll need your California ID card or driver’s license number, your date of birth, and the last four digits of your Social Security number to complete the process.

You’ll need to print your online application, sign it, and mail it to the address provided. If you don’t have a printer, you can click on “I don’t have the ability to print” and your application will be mailed to you to sign and return. Printed voter registration forms are also available at public libraries, post offices, or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices.

You can also register on Election Day. Fill out and sign the Same-Day Voter Registration form and take it with you to request your ballot to vote at your polling location or county elections office.

Am I Registered to Vote in California?

If you’re not sure whether you’re registered to vote in California, you can quickly look up the information using California state’s MyVoterStatus page. Enter your name, California driver’s license or ID number, date of birth, and last four digits of your Social Security number. The page will confirm if you’re registered to vote and the location of where you may vote on Election Day.

Early Voting in California

California provides early voting to make voting more convenient for those who may not be able to vote on the day of the election or who would prefer to avoid the long lines. Counties have varying early voting dates, so it’s best to check the MyVoterStatus page for information of when the county you’re registered in will hold early elections.

Unregistered voters can also participate in the early voting dates by filling out the Same Day Voter registration form and showing up on the day they wish to vote with their California photo ID.

Voting in California on Election Day

The California Voter’s Choice Act allows you to vote at any polling location available in your county. So as long as you know what county you’re registered in, you may vote at whichever polling station you choose. The MyVoterStatus page will detail where your polling location is.

You could also cast your vote in the mail by requesting a vote-by-mail ballot no later than seven days before the election. Download and mail the completed form as instructed in the application. The mail ballot must be completed, mailed, and postmarked by Election Day or the day before. Or you can drop it off at a polling place on the day of the election between the voting hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Why Voting Is Important

There are many important initiatives and measures up for a vote in California on Election Day. Besides the opportunity to vote for a President and your Congressional representatives, Californians will have the opportunity to vote on:

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