On this page:
Voting at your polling place on Election Day
LOCATION: The location of your polling place is printed on the back cover of your Sample Ballot. You can use Smart Voter to lookup your polling place online. The Secretary of State's toll-free Voter Hotline at (800)345-VOTE can also help you find your polling place. Your polling place location may not be the same for every election. Make sure you check the address on your Sample Ballot before you go to vote. Note that voting precincts with very small numbers of registered voters may be declared "Mailed Ballot Precincts" and all voters in those precincts will automatically be mailed a vote by mail ballot for that election. See "Provisional Ballot" for information about voting at a precinct that is not the one you are assigned.
HOURS: The polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- You will be asked your name and a poll worker will find your name on the list of registered voters.
- You do not have to produce any identification unless you are a first time voter who registered by mail. In this case, bring your California drivers license or identification card.
- You will be asked to sign your name in the list of registered voters.
- If a primary election, you will be given a ballot for a political party or a nonpartisan ballot. Read about your choices.
- You may vote only once in any election.
- See "Provisional Ballot" for what you can do if your name is not on the list.
BRING YOUR SAMPLE BALLOT: You may bring your Sample Ballot with you into the voting booth with your choices marked. Bring the sample ballot which was mailed to you, not someone else's sample ballot. Only the sample ballot mailed to you will correspond exactly with the ballot you are given when you go to vote.
Your sample ballot will tell you how to use the voting system at your polling place. Many counties have new voting systems.
Your time in the voting booth is limited. If you have marked your Sample Ballot before election day you will be able to vote quickly and correctly.
ASSISTANCE: You may bring one or two people to help you vote or you may ask a poll worker for assistance. No one may tell you who to vote for. You may ask for help using the voting machine, reading the ballot, and marking the ballot.
PROVISIONAL BALLOT: If the poll worker will not let you vote and you believe that you are properly registered to vote and want to vote at the polling place where you are, demand that you be given a provisional ballot so that you can vote. (Read more about a provisional ballot). Then check with your County Elections Official to correct the problem.
PRIVACY: No one has the right to see how you voted or to ask you how you voted. You may put your marked ballot into the locked box yourself.
IN LINE AT CLOSING: If you are in line waiting to vote at 8 p.m. when the polls close you will be allowed to vote.
CAMPAIGNING AT THE POLLS: There may not be any campaign material or campaigning (either for candidates or for measures) in the polling place or within 100 feet from the entrance to the polling place. Take off your campaign buttons!
EXIT POLLS: Someone may be conducting an "exit poll" as you leave the polling place. You do not have to talk with this person or give them any information about how you voted or why.
VOTERS' RIGHTS: Read the "Voters' Rights" section for more information about your rights.
COMPLAINTS OR COMPLIMENTS: If you have any complaints (or compliments) about the voting process speak to the person in charge at the polling place and contact your County Elections Official. To report suspected fraud or misuse of election information, call the Secretary of State's Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683).
You should go to the polling place in the precinct in which you believe you are entitled to vote, but you may go to any precinct in the county where you reside.
If the poll workers check the roster and cannot locate your name they will assist you to try to find your correct polling location. If you believe you are registered to vote and want to vote at the polling location where you are, you are entitled to a provisional ballot. (Because registration is allowed up to 15 days prior to the election some registrations may be processed after the roster for that election has been printed and so some names may not appear on the list of registered voters at the polling place.) You do not have to show any ID in order to vote provisionally.
After you vote, your ballot will be placed in a special provisional ballot envelope. Your vote will be counted if:
- The county elections official can verify that you are, in fact, registered to vote and
- You have not already voted
- If you go to a precinct other than the one you are assigned, only the votes for the candidates and measures on which you were entitled to vote in your assigned precinct will be counted.
You have a right to know if your vote was counted. Contact your county elections office to ask if the ballot with your voting receipt number was counted.
The California Secretary of State's Web site explains more about the process for casting a provisional ballot.
You may vote in person at the office of your County Elections Official or at another early voting location before election day. There may be early voting on the weekend which will be more convenient for you. The locations and hours are published in your county's Sample Ballot. Or key in your zip code to find information about voting in your county and contact information for your County Elections Office.
If you are voting by mail you may drop off your completed vote-by-mail ballot at an early voting location or any elecion day polling location. If you do not wish to use your vote-by-mail ballot, you may give it to a pollworker and vote a regular ballot. Your surrendered vote-by-mail ballot will not be counted. If you requested a vote-by-mail ballot but did not receive it or lost it, you may vote a provisional ballot at the early voting location or at your regular polling place on election day.