Election Code Q & A

Who is eligible to vote? EC §§ 2101, 2108

A voter must satisfy the following requirements: (a) 18 years of age [on or before Election Day] (b) U.S. citizen (c) Resident of California (d) Not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction. (e) Not currently judged by a court to be mentally incompetent.

What if I am a new citizen? EC § 3501-3503

A new citizen registering to vote after the close of the registration shall provide the county elections official with proof of citizenship prior to voting, and shall declare that her or she has established residency in California. Upon receipt of proof of citizenship and California residency, the county elections official shall instate the affiant as a registered voter and include his or her affidavit of registration in the permanent file of affidavits.

The ballots of new citizens shall be received and canvassed at the same time and under the same procedure as vote by mail voter ballots, insofar as that procedure is not inconsistent with this chapter.

The county elections official shall keep open to public inspection a list of all persons who have registered as new citizens.

What is the deadline to register to vote?

The deadline to register to vote is 15 days prior to each local and statewide Election Day. To be eligible to vote in the June 7, 2016, Presidential Primary Election, you must register to vote by May 23, 2016.

How do I know if I am registered to vote?

Call your county elections office. Find the office in your county at www.sos.ca.gov.

How do I change my current voter registration information? EC §§ 2101-2119

Contact your local Elections Officer or visit www.sos.ca.gov/elections/register-to-vote to download a registration form to complete and mail to your local Elections Official.

What if I am a new resident?

Registration for new residents shall be in progress beginning with the 14th day prior to an election and ending on the seventh day prior to election day. This registration must be executed in the county elections office and the new resident shall vote a new resident’s ballot in that office. EC § 3400

What do I do if I moved prior to an election?

A person registered to vote in any precinct in California who removes within 14 days prior to an election shall, for the purpose of that election, be entitled to vote in the precinct from which the person so removed until the close of the polls on the date of that election. EC § 2035

Whenever a voter, between the time of that person’s last voter registration and the time for the closing of registration for any given election, has changed his or her residence address by moving, the voter shall execute a new affidavit of registration or a notice or a letter of the change of address as permitted in Election Code 2119, in order to vote at the next election. EC § 2116 (a)

Notwithstanding subdivision, (a) a voter who has changed his or her residence address by moving may vote at the election immediately following the change of residence if he or she is entitled to vote under Elections Code 2035 or 14311. EC § 2116 (b)

How do I vote at the polls?

Polls are open from 7:00am to 8:00pm EC § 14212

Some counties also allow you to vote in person at selected locations before Election Day.

  • When you arrive at your polling place, a poll worker will ask for your name and check an official list of registered voters for that polling place.
  • After you sign next to your name on the list, the poll worker will give you a paper ballot, unique pass code, or computer memory card, depending on the voting system your county uses.
  • Go to a private booth and begin voting.

What if I am at the polls during closing time? EC § 14401

When the polls are closed, the precinct board shall proclaim that fact aloud at the place of election. After the proclamation no ballot shall be received. However, if at the hour of closing there are any other voters in the polling place, or in line at the door, who are qualified to vote and have not been able to do so since appearing, the polls shall be kept open a sufficient time to enable them to vote.

What is the vote-by-mail process?

After you mark your choices on your vote-by-mail ballot, put it in the official envelope provided by your county elections office and seal it. Place the proper postage on the envelope and sign the outside of the envelope as directed. Vote-by-mail ballots must be received by county elections offices no later than 8:00pm on Election Day, so be sure to mail your vote-by-mail ballot in plenty of time. EC §§ 3011, 3020

What if I change my mind and want to vote at the polling place instead of by mail?

Even if you receive your vote-by-mail ballot, you can change your mind and vote at your polling place on Election Day. However, you must bring your vote-by-mail ballot to the polling place and give it to a poll worker to exchange for a polling place ballot. If you do not have your vote-by-mail ballot, you will be allowed to vote on a “provisional” ballot, which will be counted after elections officials have confirmed that you are registered to vote and you did not already vote in that election. EC §§ 3015, 3016

If I deliver the vote-by-mail ballot for someone other than myself, does the voter have to sign the absentee ballot return envelope?

YES. The elections official, by comparing the signature on the absentee ballot return envelope to the signature on your voter registration card, can determine that you are the authorized voter. This is an important protection for you. Your signature will not allow anyone to determine how you voted. To preserve the secrecy of your ballot, once your signature has been verified, the ballot is separated from the envelope and the ballot becomes as anonymous and secret as any other ballot. If the ballot is rejected because the signatures do not compare, the envelope shall not be opened and the ballot shall not be counted. EC § 3019

How do I cast a provisional ballot

If the precinct board is unable to find a voter’s name on the index of registration, it shall inform the voter that he or she may cast a provisional ballot. If the voter elects to cast a provisional ballot, the precinct board shall furnish the voter with a provisional ballot, in accordance with Elections Code Section 14310. EC § 14217

At all elections, a voter claiming to be properly registered but whose qualification or entitlement to vote cannot be immediately established upon examination of the index of registration for the precinct or upon examination of the records on file with the county elections official, shall be entitled to vote a provisional ballot. EC § 14310(a)

Once voted, the voter’s ballot shall be sealed in a provisional ballot envelope, and the ballot in its envelope shall be deposited in the ballot box. All provisional ballots voted shall remain sealed in their envelopes for return to the elections official in accordance with the elections official’s instructions. The provisional ballot envelopes specified in this subdivision shall be a color different than the color of, but printed substantially similar to, the envelopes used for vote by mail ballots, and shall be completed in the same manner as vote by mail ballot envelopes. EC § 14310(b)

If the time for closing the polls is extended pursuant to a court order, all votes cast during the time that the closing of the polls is extended shall be by provisional ballot. Any provisional ballots cast pursuant to this section shall be separated and held apart from other provisional ballots cast by voters prior to the time the closing of the polls was extended. EC § 14402.5