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Politics

It’s National Voter Registration Day. Here’s how to register to vote in California

A file photo of a polling location ahead of the June 2012 primary election in California
In this June 2012 file photo, a voter is pictured at a polling location in California .
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, an unofficial holiday centered on clearing up questions about registration deadlines. Here’s a brief rundown of what California residents need to do to vote in future elections.

I’m not sure if I’m registered to vote. How do I check?

On the secretary of state’s website, you can look up your voter registration status or check through your county. This is also where you can confirm what your language preference is for election materials and choose where you want to receive state and county voter guides before the election.

Where can I register to vote?

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California residents can also use the site to register to vote online; the state application is available in 10 languages. You can also visit your county elections office (here are addresses and phone numbers), library, Department of Motor Vehicles office or federal post office to complete a paper form. To have an application mailed to you, you can call your county elections office or the secretary of state’s voter hotline: (800) 345-8683.

You can also fill out the national mail voter registration form, which is available in nine languages. The form can be filled out onscreen and printed out, or you can print the blank form and fill it out by hand. Remember to sign the form before mailing it to the address listed for California:

Secretary of State
Elections Division
1500 11th St., 5th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

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When is the deadline to register?

The deadline to register in California online or by mail is 15 business days before the election you want to vote in. For this year’s Nov. 5 election, that would be Oct. 21. For the March 3, 2020, primary election, your registration must be postmarked or submitted online by Feb. 17, 2020.

California also passed legislation that allows same-day voter registration, known as conditional voter registration, even if you missed the deadline to do it online. To vote on the same day, find your county’s election office, go there and cast a provisional ballot, which will be counted once your registration is verified. Here’s where to find your election office.

What will I need to register to vote?

Check your eligibility before filling out an application to register. You should have your driver’s license or state identification card on hand. You’ll also be asked for the last four digits of your Social Security number and your date of birth.

If you don’t have a California driver’s license or identification card, you can fill out the online application and complete an online interview at least 15 business days before the election in which you want to vote.

It’s recommended that first-time voters who applied without including a license or Social Security number bring some form of identification to a polling place. Beyond the driver’s license or state ID card, acceptable forms of identification include a passport, a copy of a recent utility bill, the county voter information guide you received from your county elections office, or another document sent to you by a government agency.

Here are key dates and events on the the 2020 presidential election calendar, including dates of debates, caucuses, primaries and conventions.

I’m not old enough to register. Is there any way to pre-register and vote when I turn 18?

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Yes, there is. If you are 16 or 17 years old and meet the other eligibility requirements to vote, you can sign up online to be automatically registered to vote on your 18th birthday.

Is there anything else I should know?

Make sure you register in the county where you live. You must re-register to vote if you change your name or your choice of political party. And if you’re registered to vote in another state but live in California, you must cancel your registration in that state.

If you have any other questions, contact the California voter hotline — (800) 345-8683 — or your county elections office.

You can learn more about voting as a California resident at sos.ca.gov/elections.

OK. You’re registered, and election day is almost here. Now what?


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