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AARP AARP States California Voters

How to Vote in California's 2024 Elections

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Important dates and election information

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  • Last day of regular registration: Monday, Oct. 21
  • First day of conditional registration: Tuesday, Oct. 22
  • Last day to apply for replacement absentee ballot: Tuesday, Oct. 29
  • General election: Tuesday, Nov. 5

Voting at a glance

  • Voter registration: Regular registration closes Monday, Oct. 21, for the general election. Check your registration status using the state’s voter status tool.
  • Early voting: Voters can cast an absentee ballot at their county clerk’s office starting Monday, Oct. 7. If you live in a Voter’s Choice Act county, you have additional early voting options starting Saturday, Oct. 26.

Recent voting changes in California

Laws that took effect in 2023 may change how you vote in the 2024 elections. Among them:

  • State referenda will be worded differently on your ballot. Instead of choosing between “Yes” and “No,” voters can choose between “Keep the law” and “Overturn the law.”
  • All polling places statewide must offer curbside voting. Tables at each polling place must have magnifying glasses and signature guide cards for those with vision issues. 
  • Vote-by-mail ballots returned at a polling place may be counted and processed the same as ballots cast in person.
  • Voters can request a replacement vote-by-mail ballot without providing a statement under penalty of perjury that the ballot was either not received, lost or damaged.

How to register to vote

Nation Goes To The Polls In Contentious Presidential Election Between Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump
Voters visit a polling place in Los Angeles.
David McNew/Getty Images

  • Online: Use the secretary of state’s online portal to register by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21. Include your California driver’s license or state identification card number, your date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. 

California offers automatic voter registration to eligible residents when they receive or renew their driver’s license or state ID, or change their address with the DMV, unless they opt out.

Check your registration status

Use the state’s voter status tool to check your voter registration status.

Conditional registration

California offers conditional registration (also known as same-day registration) if you miss the deadline to register or update your voter registration information. This means you can register and vote at your county elections office, county vote center or polling place from Tuesday, Oct. 22, through Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 5) at 8 p.m.

How to request a vote-by-mail ballot

County elections officials begin sending all registered voters a vote-by-mail ballot on Monday, Oct. 7. You can apply for a replacement ballot if needed.

Your county elections office must receive your completed replacement ballot application — either by mail or in person — by Tuesday, Oct 29.

Military and overseas voters follow different procedures to request and return a ballot. More information is available on the secretary of state’s website.

Returning a vote-by-mail ballot

Return your completed ballot by mail or in person.

  • ​​By mail: Mail your ballot to your county elections office. Prepaid postage is provided. It must be postmarked by Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 5) and received by Tuesday, Nov. 12.
  • In person: Return your ballot to any polling place, county vote center, ballot drop box or county elections office. Ballot drop-box locations open on Tuesday, Oct. 8, and close Election Day at 8 p.m. Someone else can drop off your ballot for you, but you must complete the authorization section on the outside of your ballot envelope.   

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

Voting in person before Election Day

Any registered voter can vote early and in person by casting a vote-by-mail ballot at their county clerk’s office starting Monday, Oct. 7. If you live in a Voter’s Choice Act county, you have additional early voting options, which become available Saturday, Oct. 26.

Voting at the polls on Election Day

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find your polling place at the state elections website.

Voter ID requirements on Election Day

You will not need to provide identification, unless you didn’t provide your California driver’s license, state ID or the last four digits of your Social Security number when you registered by mail as a first-time voter. 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. For more information, call the secretary of state’s voter hotline at 800-345-8683.

Voting with a disability

Registered voters with disabilities can request to vote from home using their own technology and a remote accessible vote-by-mail system, which together can help voters read and mark their ballot.

The state offers curbside voting at all polling places and vote centers, and polling places are equipped with accessible voting machines.

If you need help marking your ballot, as many as two people can help you do so, as long as they aren’t an employee or employer at your workplace, or part of your labor union.

Editor’s note: This guide was originally published on Dec. 15, 2023, and has been updated with new information.

Elissa Chudwin covers federal and state policy and writes the podcast Today’s Tips from AARP. She previously worked as a digital producer for The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, California, and as an editor for Advocate magazines in Dallas.

Research on Women Voters Ages 40-plus

Did you know that nearly 80% of women voters are highly motivated to vote? She's the Difference: California is a statewide survey that examines the priorities an concerns of women voters ages 40-plus. The survey explores views on voting and electoral priorities, housing, long-term care, financial security and federal programs, such as Medicare and Social Security. To learn more, click HERE.

Also of Interest:

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