Instructions for voting

Unsure where to start? Follow the steps below.

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    How To: Register to Vote

    Voter registration requirements and deadlines. Register to vote

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    How To: Vote

    Find out how, where, and when to vote. How to vote

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Get Out The Vote!

How to Register to Vote

Register Online

You’ll need your CA driver’s license or CA ID card number, last 4 digits of your Social Security number, and your birthday to register online.

Register Online


Check if you’re registered to vote

sos.ca.gov

1. Get the voter registration form.

Call your county elections office or call 1-800-345-VOTE (8683) to have a form sent to you.


2. Fill out the form

Step 1 · Mark the boxes to indicate you’re a US citizen and will be 18 by Election Day, Nov 8

Steps 2–4 · Provide your full name

Steps 5–7 · Provide your address. If you don’t have a street address, use the space to describe where you live.

Steps 8-9 · Provide your mailing address, if different from above

Step 10 · Provide your birthday

Step 11 · Provide the state (or foreign country) where you were born

Step 12 · Provide your California driver’s license number or state ID card number. If you don’t have either of these, provide the last 4 digits of your social security number if you have one.

Step 13 · (Optional) provide your email address

Step 14 · (Optional) provide your phone number

Step 15 · Provide your political party preference, or check the box to indicate you don’t have a political party preference

Step 16 · (Optional) If you want to receive a ballot to vote by mail instead of at the polls on election day, initial the space provided

Step 17 · If you’re reporting a change in name, address, or political party, provide your previous information

Step 18 · Sign and date the form

Step 19 · If you’re registering for the first time in California, include a copy of a photo ID, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address

  • If you don’t submit the ID with your application, you’ll have to show ID when you vote


3. Send the form.

Mail the form by Oct 24 to your county elections office.


Check if you’re registered to vote

sos.ca.gov

1. Get the voter registration form.

Pick up the form at your county elections office, any Department of Motor Vehicles office, and many post offices, public libraries, and other government offices.


2. Fill out the form

Step 1 · Mark the boxes to indicate you’re a US citizen and will be 18 by Election Day, Nov 8

Steps 2–4 · Provide your full name

Steps 5–7 · Provide your address. If you don’t have a street address, use the space to describe where you live.

Steps 8–9 · Provide your mailing address, if different from above

Step 10 · Provide your birthday

Step 11 · Provide the state (or foreign country) where you were born

Step 12 · Provide your California driver’s license number or state ID card number. If you don’t have either of these, provide the last 4 digits of your social security number if you have one.

Step 13 · (Optional) provide your email address

Step 14 · (Optional) provide your phone number

Step 15 · Provide your political party preference, or check the box to indicate you don’t have a political party preference

Step 16 · (Optional) If you want to receive a ballot to vote by mail instead of at the polls on Election Day, initial the space provided

Step 17 · If you’re reporting a change in name, address, or political party, provide your previous information

Step 18 · Sign and date the form


3. Return the form.

Submit the form by Oct 24 to your county elections office.


Check if you’re registered to vote

sos.ca.gov

Registration requirements

  • Be a US citizen
  • Live at a California address
  • Be 16 years old in order to register, and be 18 by Election Day, Nov 8, in order to vote
  • Not serving a sentence (including parole) for a felony conviction
  • Not currently found to be mentally incompetent by a court of law
Online
October 24

Mail
October 24

In Person
October 24

How to Vote

Vote early

Dates vary by county. You may vote early in person at your county elections office or at other early voting locations before Election Day.

Bring an accepted form of ID, if required.


Vote on Election Day
Nov 8

Polls are open 7 AM–8 PM. If you’re in line at your polling location by 8 PM, you’re allowed to vote.

Bring an accepted form of ID, if required.


Who can vote early

Any voter registered in California can vote early in person.

Who can vote by mail

Any voter registered in California can vote by mail.


1. Get your ballot application

You can use the application printed in the sample ballot booklet that is automatically mailed to you by your county elections official; or download and print the California ballot application.

Get the form


2. Fill out the application

Step 1 · To vote by mail in the general election on Nov 8, enter “11/08/2016” for the date and “General” for the type of election

Step 2 · Provide your name

Step 3 · Provide your birthday

Step 4 · Provide the address where you live

Step 5 · Provide the address where you’d like the ballot to be mailed (if different from Step 4)

Step 6 · (Optional) Provide your telephone number to allow the elections office to contact you if more information is needed

Step 7 · Sign and date the application


3. Return the application

The signed and completed application must be received by your county elections office no later than Nov 1


4. Vote
  • Once you receive your ballot, follow the instructions to fill out the ballot and all required information on the return envelope
  • Include a copy of an accepted form of ID, if required
  • Mail your voted vote-by-mail ballot to your county elections office. Your ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day, Nov 8.
  • Check the status of your ballot through your county on sos.ca.gov
Absentee ballot received by

November 8


Vote on Election Day

November 8

Polls are open 7 AM–7 PM. If you’re in line at your polling location by 7 PM, you’re allowed to vote.

Bring an accepted photo ID

Registration requirements
  • Be registered to vote in Alabama. Check if you’re registered to vote.
  • Be a US citizen
  • Be at 18 on Election Day, Nov 8
  • Live at an Alabama address
  • Not have been convicted of a disqualifying felony (unless your civil and political rights have been restored)
  • Not have been determined to be mentally incompetent, unless the declaration has been lifted

ID requirements

If you’re not voting for the first time in California, you don’t need to show ID

If you’re a first-time voter, registered by mail, and didn’t include your driver’s license number, California ID number, or the last 4 digits of your Social Security number on your registration, you need to include a copy of accepted ID with your mail-in ballot and you may be asked to provide ID if you vote in person

Acceptable forms of ID include a current and valid photo ID that includes your name and photograph. Examples:

  • Driver’s license or ID card of any state
  • Passport
  • Employee ID card
  • ID card provided by a commercial establishment
  • Credit or debit card
  • Military ID card
  • Student ID card
  • Health club ID card
  • Insurance plan ID card
  • Public housing ID card

You can also use any of the following documents that includes your name and address as long as the document is dated after Nov 4, 2014:

  • Utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Government check
  • Government paycheck
  • Document issued by a governmental agency
  • Sample ballot or other official elections document issued by a governmental, agency dated for the upcoming election
  • Voter notification card issued by a governmental agency
  • Public housing ID card issued by a governmental agency
  • Lease or rental statement or agreement issued by a governmental agency
  • Student ID card issued by a governmental agency
  • Tuition statement or bill issued by a governmental agency
  • Insurance plan card or drug discount card issued by a governmental agency
  • Discharge certificates, pardons, or other official documents issued to you by a governmental agency in connection with the resolution of a criminal case, indictment, sentence, or other matter
  • Public transportation authority senior citizen and disabled discount cards issued by a governmental agency
  • ID documents issued by governmental disability agencies
  • ID documents issued by government homeless shelters and other government temporary or transitional facilities
  • Drug prescription issued by a government doctor or other governmental health care provider
  • Property tax statement issued by a governmental agency
  • Vehicle registration issued by a governmental agency
  • Vehicle certificate of ownership issued by a governmental agency

Frequently Asked Questions

California is one of the few states in the nation that offers permanent absentee status to all voters. You can use the California absentee ballot application to sign up for the permanent by-mail voter list. (There’s a checkbox on the right side of the form.) California will then mail you an absentee ballot for every eligible election. This is a great way to make sure you never miss another election. You will retain permanent absentee voter status as long as you vote in all statewide primary and general elections. If you fail to cast a ballot in two consecutive statewide general elections, you will be removed from the permanent absentee voter list and will need to reapply in order to restore status.

If you have any questions, please contact your Local Election Official.

You must include your California driver’s license number, or your CA identification card number, on your voter registration form. If you don’t have either of these numbers, you should include a copy of your ID with your voter registration form. Acceptable forms of ID include a current and valid photo identification OR a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or other government document that shows your name and address. Note: military voters, overseas voters, and elderly or handicapped voters are exempt from these requirements.
You do not need to provide ID if you’ve already voted in California at least once. If you are a first-time California voter and you registered to vote by mail and you did not include identifying information with your voter registration form (such as your driver’s license number, your state ID number, or a copy of your ID), then you then you must submit a copy of one of the following documents with your absentee ballot application: a current and valid photo identification OR a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and California address.
If you’re in state, there are two things you can do:

  • You can vote an emergency vote-by-mail ballot at your Local Election Official’s office (see above).
  • California offers no excuse in-person voting at various locations throughout the state. Visit our Early Voting page to learn more.
  • During the 6 days before the election – and on election day – you may go to the office of your Local Election Official, apply for and vote an emergency vote-by-mail ballot at that office.
  • Emergency Vote-By-Mail ballots are issued in person, not by mail (the name is slightly misleading).
  • Please contact your Local Election Official to learn more.emergency vote-by-mail ballot
YES! You must bring your non-voted by-mail ballot and give it to the polling place worker before voting on a regular ballot.