Know Your Rights: Every Vote Counts!

Feb 14, 2024

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Voting is a fundamental right and a cornerstone of American government. Our democracy works best when all voices are represented, but some politicians still try to use voter suppression tactics to silence underrepresented communities. Don’t let them!

When voters turn out for federal, state, and local elections, we can hold politicians accountable and make critical decisions about where our tax dollars get spent and what we want for our communities.

Vote like your rights depend on itRegister to vote today.

Eligible voters meet the following requirements:

  • a United States citizen and a resident of California,
  • 18 years old or older on Election Day,
  • not currently in state or federal prison for the conviction of a felony, and
  • not currently found mentally incompetent to vote by a court.

Can I vote if I have a criminal conviction?

Yes! You can vote if you are:

  • In county jail:
    • Serving a misdemeanor sentence (a misdemeanor never affects your right to vote)
    • As a condition of probation (misdemeanor or felony)
    • Serving a felony jail sentence
  • On probation, parole, mandatory supervision, post-release community supervision, or federal supervised release
  • Pre-trial or awaiting trial for any crime

You are NOT able to vote if you are:

  • Currently serving a state or federal prison sentence. Once you are released from prison your right to vote is restored, but you must register (or re-register) to vote. You can register to vote online or by filling out a paper voter registration form.

Can I vote if I am unhoused?

Yes! You may register to vote at a location where you spend most of your time. You must describe the location clearly enough for the elections official to establish your right to vote in a specific precinct or county. This ensures accurate election materials can be provided to you. A mailing address (if available) should be provided in order for you to receive election materials; this can be any place you receive your mail.

Can I vote if I am 16 or 17 years old?

No, but you can pre-register to vote if you are 16 or 17 years old. Pre-registration does not change the voting age, which is 18. Youth who pre-register to vote will have their registration become active once they turn 18 years old.

Learn more about pre-registering to vote.

Can I bring someone to help me vote?

Yes! You have the right to bring up to two people you choose to assist you in casting your ballot. The individuals assisting the voter may not be the voter’s employer, an agent of their employer, or union representative.

Can I get a ballot in my preferred language?

Yes! Depending on the languages covered by your county, you can request a translated or reference (facsimile) ballot in your preferred language. You can make the request by telephone, mail, online, or when requesting a vote-by-mail ballot from the county.

View language assistance availability by county.

Do I need a California Driver's License or California Identification Card to register or pre-register to vote online?

No, all Californians who are eligible to register to vote may fill out a voter registration application online. If you do not have a California Driver’s License or identification card number, but you enter your other information, the website will create a pre-filled voter registration application for you to print, sign, and mail. Voters who do not provide a state identification number when registering may need to provide some form of identification when voting for the first time.

I've moved since the last election. Do I need to re-register to vote?

Yes, you must register to vote again if you:

  • Move
  • Change your name
  • Wish to update your political party preference
  • Have recently regained the right to vote
  • Change your preferred language

You can update your voter registration online. Not sure if you need an update? Check your voter registration status and register to vote online.

Can Military, Overseas, and Out-of-State California Residents Vote?

Yes! The Secretary of State’s office recommends that military and overseas voters start early and get registered to vote online at to ensure they receive their voting materials on time. Get more information about voting in California elections for people temporarily living outside of California, including students and military personnel.

Can I vote by mail? 

Any registered voter can vote by mail in California. 

To ensure your ballot is counted, your vote-by-mail ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day. You may also deliver your voted ballot to your county elections office, ballot drop box, voter center, or any polling place in your county before 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Remember to sign your vote-by-mail envelope. You can track your ballot here to make sure it’s counted.

Click here to learn more about your voting options.

What happens if my signature doesn’t match or I forget to sign my vote-by-mail ballot envelope?

Before your ballot is rejected due to a missing or mismatched signature, the county must notify you before the election results are certified and allow you to correct the issue to ensure your ballot is counted.

Someone else offered to drop off my ballot, is that okay?

Yes! You can let someone else return your ballot for you if they aren’t being paid based on how many ballots they return. Just fill out the authorization section on your ballot envelope.

How can I be sure my ballot is counted?

You can track your ballot by visiting the California Secretary of State Where’s My Ballot page.

Can I get time off work to vote?

Yes! California law allows workers to take time off with pay to cast their ballot on Election Day if they do not have sufficient time outside of their normal working hours. Your employer can require advance notice and is allowed to ask that you take time at the beginning or end of your shift.

Check out the California Voter Bill of Rights to learn more about your right to vote.