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AARP AARP States California Voters

How to Vote in California's 2024 Elections

En español

Essential info:

  • Key dates: The presidential primary election will be Tuesday, March 5, 2024. The general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2024.
  • Key races: Statewide elections include races for seats in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state Legislature. 
  • Voting by mail: All registered voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot before the primary and general elections.
  • Early in-person voting: Some California counties offer early in-person voting up to 10 days before every election. Check with your county elections office for more information.  
  • Voting at the polls: Find your polling place on the state elections website. You may be asked to show ID if you didn’t do so while registering to vote online. 

How do I register to vote?

  • Online: Use California’s online portal to register, check your registration status or change your party preference. Include your California driver’s license or ID card number, your date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. The online registration deadline is Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, for the primary and Monday, Oct. 21, 2024, for the general election.
  • By mail and in person: Forms are available at county elections offices, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and some public libraries and U.S. post offices. Completed forms must be postmarked or hand-delivered to your county elections office by Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, for the primary and by Monday, Oct. 21, 2024, for the general election. 

    California offers automatic voter registration to eligible residents when they receive or renew their driver’s license or state ID, unless they opt out.
  • By phone or email: Call 800-345-8683 or send an email to the California Elections Division to request a registration form. Completed forms must be returned by mail or hand-delivered by the deadline listed above. 

If you miss the registration deadline, you can register conditionally (also known as same-day registration) and vote at your county elections office, polling place or county vote center. Your ballot will be counted after your county elections office completes the voter registration verification process.

Does my party preference matter when I vote?

It depends. For many primary races, including those for state legislative offices and U.S. congressional offices, voters use the same ballot, regardless of party preference. The top two candidates in each race then move on to the general election.

But for presidential, county central committee and local office races, a political party can choose to close its ballot, only allowing voters who share that political party preference to participate. Or a party may have a “modified-closed” primary, in which voters without a party preference may participate.

How can I get a vote-by-mail ballot? Are there important deadlines?

All registered voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot by the state elections office before Election Day. If your mail ballot is lost or damaged and you’re unable to vote at the polls, you can request a replacement:

How do I return my vote-by-mail ballot?

By mail: Mail your ballot to your county elections office. It must be postmarked by Election Day and received no later than seven days after that.

In person: Return your ballot to any polling place, county vote center, ballot drop box or county elections office. Ballot drop-box locations close Election Day at 8 p.m. Someone else can return your ballot for you, but you must complete the authorization section on the outside of your ballot envelope.

Can I track my vote-by-mail ballot?

Use the state election office’s online tool to track your ballot.

Can I vote in person before Election Day?

This depends on the county. If you live in a Voter’s Choice Act county, you may start in-person voting up to 10 days before an election at a local vote center. Locations can be found on the state elections website closer to the election. At these centers, voters can drop off their ballot, get a replacement ballot, cast a ballot with a voting machine, register to vote or update an existing registration, and find voting material in multiple languages.

More information about vote center locations and ballot drop boxes will become available on the state elections website closer to the election.

What do I need to know about voting at the polls on Election Day?

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, for the primary and on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2024 for the general election.

Find your polling place at the state elections website.

Do I need identification to vote at the polls?

No, unless you didn’t provide your California driver’s license or state ID and/or the last four digits of your Social Security number when you registered online. If that’s the case, you may need to show an approved form of ID, such as your California driver’s license or U.S. passport.

Find a complete list of acceptable forms of ID at the state election’s website.

Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Oct. 12, 2023. The guide was first published on July 30, 2020. 

Also of Interest:

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