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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

Key dates

  • Primary election: Tuesday, March 5
  • General election: Tuesday, Nov. 5

Voting at a glance

  • Mail voting: All registered voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot before the primary and general elections.
  • Voting at the polls: Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You may be asked to show an ID if you didn’t do so while registering to vote online.

How to vote in California

What to know about recent changes

A law that took effect in 2023 may change how you vote in the 2024 elections:

  • State referendums 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.” A short summary of each measure also will be included.

Voter registration

Register online, by mail or in person:

  • Online: Use the secretary of state’s online portal to register or check your registration status. 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 when registering. The deadline is Tuesday, Feb. 20.

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

Conditional registration 

California offers conditional registration (also known as same-day registration) if you miss the regular registration deadline. This means you can register and vote at your county elections office, polling place or county vote center within 14 days of an election. For the primary, conditional registration runs from Wednesday, Feb. 21, through Election Day (Tuesday, March 5) at 8 p.m.

Primary voting and party affiliation

Your party preference may matter in the presidential primary race and some others. In these races, political parties can hold either a closed primary (allowing only voters affiliated with a party to vote) or a “modified-closed” primary (which also allows voters with no party preference to participate).

If you want to change your political party preference, you must reregister to vote. 

Your party preference doesn’t matter in U.S. congressional and state legislative races.

Nation Goes To The Polls In Contentious Presidential Election Between Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump
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Ways to vote

Requesting a vote-by-mail ballot

County elections officials began sending all registered voters a vote-by-mail ballot on Monday, Feb. 5. You can apply for a replacement if your ballot is lost or damaged:

Your county elections office must receive your completed ballot application — either by mail or in person — by Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Returning a vote-by-mail ballot

Return your ballot by mail or in person.

  • By mail: Mail your ballot to your county elections office. It must be postmarked by Election Day (Tuesday, March 5) and received by Tuesday, March 12.
  • In person: Return your ballot to any polling place, county vote center, ballot drop box or county elections office. Ballot drop-box locations opened on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 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

You can vote early and in person at your county elections office starting Monday, Feb. 5. Some counties may offer additional early voting sites, which open on Saturday, Feb. 24.

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 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.

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. More information is available at the state elections website.

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

Find more resources at the state elections website.

More information about candidates

Key races:

  • U.S. President
  • U.S. Senate: one seat
  • U.S. House: 52 seats
  • State Senate: 20 seats
  • State Assembly: 80 seats

More information about ballot measures is available at the state elections website. A list of candidates will become available closer to the election.

Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Feb. 5, 2024, with new information about voting in the 2024 presidential primary.

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.

Also of Interest:

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