Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer

California Voting Guide

Voting is one way to participate in our society. Find answers to your questions about voting in California in FindLaw's California Voter Guide. On this page, you will find information regarding eligibility to vote, voter registration and registration deadlines, where to vote and what to bring to the polls, absentee ballots, any special accommodations for California voters, and what you can do if you see illegal activity occurring at the polls.

Voting In California

Californians have several options when selecting their civic leaders. California holds the following types of elections:

  • General election
    • Presidential elections
    • U.S. Senate elections
  • Primary elections
    • Voters select their preferred candidate to represent a political party (Democrat, Republican, or Independent) for a general election
  • State-wide elections (includes ballot measures and initiatives)
  • Previous ballot measures include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Legalizing sports betting, dice games, and roulette at tribal casinos
    • California voters selecting representatives for their state senate and state assembly 
    • Reproductive freedom (includes access to contraceptives)
    • New regulations for dialysis clinics
  • Local elections

Can I Vote in California?

You can vote in California if you meet the following criteria:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • Resident of the State of California
  • At least 18 years of age on Election Day
  • Registered to vote

Teens and Voting

If you are 16 or 17 and meet the other eligibility criteria, you can pre-register to vote. Your voter registration will go into effect on your 18th birthday.

Other Voter Registration Criteria

You can register and vote if you are:

  • Under guardianship due to a disability (unless specifically disqualified)
  • In a county jail for any of the following:
    • Misdemeanor
    • As a condition of probation
    • Waiting for trial or while serving a felony jail sentence
  • Currently on any of the following:
    • Probation
    • Mandatory supervision
    • Post-release community supervision
    • Federal supervised release

In California, you cannot register and vote if you are:

  • Disqualified from voting due to disability or incompetency as specifically determined by a judge or a jury
  • Currently serving a felony sentence in a correctional facility or jail awaiting transfer to prison for a felony
  • Currently in a county jail for a parole violation
  • Currently on parole for a felony conviction

Restoring Your Voting Rights

You can regain your voting rights after you have completed parole by re-registering online or by completing and mailing in a voter registration card. Restore the Vote can help you determine your eligibility if you have questions about restoring your voting rights.

Disability and Mental Competency

The State of California presumes that a person is competent to vote even if they are under conservatorship because of a mental illness or developmental disability. Only a judge or jury can disqualify this person if either of the following is true:

  • There is clear and convincing evidence that the person cannot communicate a desire to participate in the voting process
  • The person is under conservatorship or is gravely disabled

See Elections Code section 2208 to learn more about voting rights for persons with disabilities and Elections Code section 2150 to learn about completing the voter registration affidavit.


Where Do I Vote?

Registered voters in California receive a postcard with the location of their polling place. If you live in one of the 15 counties participating in the California Voters' Choice Act, you can vote by mail or at any polling station in your county.

How To Register in California

There are several ways to register to vote in California. These options include registering:

In Person

You can pick up your voter registration application from one of your county election offices.

Over the Phone

Call the toll-free Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683) to have an application mailed to you.

At the DMV

Pick up a paper application at any DMV office, post offices, libraries, and government offices.


Register online using your California driver's license or California Identification Card. 

California Voting Resources

Your vote counts. Take time to learn how and when to vote.


You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Protect Your Voting Rights

Contact a qualified attorney if you suspect your rights have been violated.

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options