How to register to vote in California

Election guide
A man carries a "register to vote" sign during a demonstration on June 6, 2020 in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A man carries a “register to vote” sign during a demonstration on June 6, 2020 in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

California makes it easy to register to vote.

The Golden State has more than 21 million registered voters as of September 2020 — that’s more than the entire population in every other U.S. state except Texas and Florida.

This year, California has joined less than half of American states that allow same-day voter registration, meaning you can both register to vote and cast a ballot on Election Day.

Still, it’s smart to register early so you can get a ballot sent to you by mail, and so you’ll be able to track your ballot after you cast it.

And registering ahead of the Nov. 3 election means you’ll have plenty of options for deciding how, when and where you’ll vote.

You can check your voter registration status at voterstatus.sos.ca.gov.

You can register to vote at registertovote.ca.gov.

‘Traditional’ deadline to register to vote: Oct. 19

If you’re registered by Oct. 19, you’ll get a mail ballot automatically sent to you.

You can register several ways:

  • Fill out the form on registertovote.ca.gov
  • Fill out a paper voter registration application from a DMV field office, post office, public library, or from your county elections office
  • Request a voter registration application be sent to you by mail by calling the state’s toll-free voter hotline at 800-345-8683

Applications must be filled out online or postmarked by Oct. 19. Those who register by the deadline will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot.

After the Oct. 19 deadline

If you miss the Oct. 19 deadline, fear not. You’ll still be able to vote if you’re eligible. Here’s how:

  • Go to your county elections office in person and register to vote there (check with your county to find out about coronavirus-related office closures)
  • On Election Day, go to a vote center or polling place and register — and cast your ballot — there
  • caearlyvoting.sos.ca.gov will have a list of early voting locations where you can register and vote on Election Day

If you moved

As your address may have been affected by changes related to the coronavirus pandemic, you should register to vote at the place where you’re currently living, California Voter Foundation President Kim Alexander told Capital Public Radio. The California secretary of state’s office advises: “Your voter registration record should always reflect your current residence.”

If your move is permanent, you can re-register to vote at your new address at the state voter registration site: registertovote.ca.gov.

Teens can pre-register to vote

If you’re 16 or 17, you can register to vote to ensure you’ll get a ballot for elections once you turn 18 and are eligible to cast a ballot.

Teens can pre-register to vote at covr.sos.ca.gov.

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