Get Registered to Vote

The tools you’ll find on this site will help you to use the power of your voice at the ballot box. We provide the basics to get you started, along with answers to common questions. And the journey begins with getting registered to vote.

Getting “registered” means that you’re signing up to be on the official list of voters in California. You must register before you can vote.

Photo of Central Michigan University student at Voter Registration table

Requirements to Register to Vote

Be a United States citizen and a resident of California
Be 18 years of age on or before the day of the election.
You can pre-register at 16 and will be able to vote when you turn 18.
Not currently be serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony. Learn more.
Not found by a court to be “mentally incompetent.” Learn more.

You do not need to know how to read or write in English or any other language. No tests are given when you register to vote.

Make sure you visit VOTE411 to view your ballot after you register.

woman registering to vote

How to Register to Vote

  • The deadline to register is no later than 15 days before the election. People who sign up on time will be placed on the voter list before the election, receive a ballot in the mail, and get voter guides from the state and county.
  • If you are registering or re-registering less than 15 days before an election, you will need to complete the Same-Day Voter Registration process and request your ballot in person at your county elections office or polling location. 
  • Fill out the form online at If your signature is on file the system can use that to process everything online. If not, you will be asked to print the form, sign it, and mail it back.
  • Once you are a registered voter, you only need to re-register if you change your address, change your name, want to change your political party, need to update your signature, or are no longer serving a state or federal prison term for the conviction of a felony.
  • You can also pick up a voter registration form at your library, post office, public assistance office, or any government office that serves people with disabilities. Or call 1-800-345-8683 to have a registration form mailed.
  • It is important to fill out the card completely. You will be asked to include your driver’s license number or other identification. Here’s a video about how to fill out a paper voter registration card.

Video Instructions for the Paper Form

YouTube video

Frequently Asked Questions

Missed the Deadline? No Problem!

You can still register and vote in the election at any voting location up to and through Election Day. If you look up and go to your assigned voting location, then your ballot will be sure to include all the contests on which you’re allowed to vote.

If you need to register after the deadline and want to vote from home, contact your County Elections Office to find out how to register and get a vote by mail ballot through Election Day. Learn more from the Secretary of State.

What Happens After I Register?

You will receive a Voter Notification Card four to six weeks after you register to notify you that your application is approved. You may hear from your county earlier if more information is needed to confirm your eligibility.

But you don’t have to wait for the card to arrive. You can call your County Elections Office to make sure you’re registered or check your voter registration status online.

Will I Ever Have to Re-Register?

You must re-register if you:
  • Move to a different address.
  • Change your name.
  • Wish to change political parties or to register with no party preference.
  • Were removed from the registration rolls while in state or federal prison for the conviction of a felony.

If you are re-registering less than 15 days before an election, you will need to complete the Same-Day Voter Registration process and request your ballot in person at your county elections office or polling location. 

Do I Have to Register as a Member of a Political Party?

You have a choice:
  • You may choose among qualified political parties or choose “other,”
  • OR If you do not want to register as a member of a political party you can mark the box next to “No, I do not want to disclose a political party preference” on the voter registration form.
  • Your choice to register with no party preference may affect your ability to vote in a March Primary Election for U.S. President and County Central Committees for political parties, but you will still be able to vote for other offices and measures on the ballot.
  • In a Presidential Primary Election, if you are registered to vote with a political party, you will receive a ballot that contains presidential candidates for your party only. ​
  • If you are not registered with a political party, also known as a “No Party Preference” voter, you will receive a nonpartisan ballot, which will not include presidential candidates. ​Some political parties will allow you to “crossover” and vote for their candidates. 
  • You may register with no party preference and still vote for any candidate on the ballot, including any presidential candidate, in the November General Election.

For more information, check How California Primary Elections Work: The Top-Two System and Fast Facts: How to Choose a Political Party.

Crossover Voting in Presidential Primaries

If you are registered with a political party:If you are registered as “No Party Preference” these political parties allow you to cast a crossover vote for the Presidential Primary Election:​​These political parties do not allow a “No Party Preference” voter to cast a crossover vote in the Presidential Primary Election.
You can vote for the Presidential candidates for your party only.• American Independent Party*
• Democratic Party
• Libertarian Party

If you want to vote for Presidential candidates for one of the three political parties listed above, you can request a “crossover” ballot by contacting your County Elections Office.

*American Independent Party is a political party and is not the same as No Party Preference.
• Green Party
• Peace and Freedom Party
• Republican Party

If you want to vote for Presidential candidates for one of the three political parties listed above, you must re-register with that political party.

How Do I Register if I Am Military, Overseas, or I Live Abroad?

Register to vote either using California’s online voter registration or by filling out a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) if you are a U.S. citizen who is:

  • a member of the Uniformed Services (on active duty) or an eligible dependent
  • a member of the Merchant Marine or an eligible dependent
  • a commissioned corps of the Public Health Service
  • a commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • residing outside the United States.

For more information on using or obtaining an FPCA, visit the California Secretary of State or this federal site.

Be sure to fill out and submit the online voter registration or FPCA as early as 60 to 90 days before an election. This will allow time for voter information and ballots to be sent to you and for you to return your ballot. The absolute deadline for your registration form to be submitted online, postmarked, or delivered in person to the county elections office is 15 days before an election.

When you register to vote you will have the option to choose to have your ballot sent to you by mail, fax, or email.

Each time you move you must fill out either a new online California voter registration form or FPCA.

How Do I Register If I Am a College Student?

As a Californian living away from home while attending a college, trade school or technical school, you may choose to register to vote using either the home away from home address you use while at school, or your traditional home address.

Choosing which address to use when you register to vote is a personal decision. Whatever you decide, you may not register to vote in two places during the same election cycle.

How Do I Register if I Am Unhoused Or Homeless?

You can register if you are unhoused or experiencing homelessness if:

  • You have a fixed location where you can be assigned to a voting precinct. You must describe your location using cross streets, landmarks, or other information to explain where you live.
  • AND you have a place where you can receive mail, such as a post office box or shelter.

If sharing your address could put you in a life-threatening situation then you may qualify for the Safe At Home confidential address program.

  • Victims of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault are able to use a free P.O. box instead of their home address to help them maintain their privacy when receiving first-class mail and registering to vote.
  • Safe at Home registrants can receive their voter information and sample ballots at this P.O. box.
  • While in the program, participants are required to vote by mail.
  • The program has recently been expanded to include people who face violence, harassment, or threats of violence from the public because of their work for a public entity.


For more answers to frequently asked questions about voting and elections, check out the Secretary of State Website or contact your County Election Official’s Office